Last Tuesday's KIEM-TV news was a sad day for Humboldt as weatherman Jim Bernard gave his last weather report. Bernard is what you'd have to call a North Coast institution. He's been informing local "weather fans" about our weather patterns and helping us plan out weekends for more than two decades.
Bernard provided solid continuity at what amounts to an entry level station where most on-air staff are looking to move up to a bigger market as soon as possible. A certified meteorologist, he started doing weather reports for KVIQ Channel 6 as a side job while serving as an air traffic controller for the Arcata/Eureka Airport. He was hired by KIEM in February 1996, soon after some KVIQ manager with not much sense laid him off. (That station subsequently dropped its news department.)
On Tuesday's farewell broadcast Bernard explained a mystery that's puzzled viewers in recent months. His once assured voice had become increasingly slurred by an unknown cause. His doctor finally identified it as ataxia, a neurological disorder characterized by instability and slurred speech that makes you sound like you're drunk when you're not. He said he plans to work with a foundation that helps the public understand ataxia.
Bob Dylan once told us, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but that's not totally true. Bernard's replacement, Cecilia Reeves, started work at KIEM this week. She earned her master's degree in geosciences from Mississippi State University earlier this year, so she's a trained meteorologist, but Jim Bernard's shoes will not be easy to fill. He will remain Humboldt's best weatherman -- ever.