You can look up the weather with a few taps on your smartphone, but Tampa Bay still loves watching its weather people on television. They’re the people we tune in to watch every day. They help us figure out what to wear, how to spend our weekends and whether or not to panic when a hurricane is forming.

In honor of National Weatherperson’s Day, we used Twitter to ask Times readers to tell us about their favorite forecasters from over the years. Here’s what you said.

Denis Phillips, chief meteorologist for ABC Action news (WFTS-Ch. 28 )

Denis Phillips of WFTS, Channel 28. [WFTS]
Denis Phillips of WFTS, Channel 28. [WFTS]

Denis Phillips has forecasted for over 30 years, and has scored “most accurate” in the nation for five years in a row. Suspenders have been the meteorologist’s signature outfit piece since he wore them for about 36 hours straight during Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Viewers appreciate his calm demeanor, especially during hurricane season.

“Denis Phillips of ABC Action News got me through Hurricane Irma," Times reporter Kathryn Varn said. "He was so honest about the destruction we were potentially facing that I had to laugh.”

Phillips gained an online following for his viral list of seven rules to follow during hurricane season. The guidelines were initially written during 2012 when Hurricane Isaac stirred anxiety among viewers.

Denis Phillips' seven rules for hurricane season. [Facebook screenshot]
Denis Phillips' seven rules for hurricane season. [Facebook screenshot]

Phillips is also the only local meteorologist with his own signature brew. After Safety Harbor’s Crooked Thumb Brewery adopted him as their house meteorologist during Hurricane Irma, the brewery produced Rule #7 Hurricane Saison in his honor. The can was decorated with — what else?— suspenders.

WFTS-Ch. 28 meteorologist Denis Phillips hangs out with a clutch of Rule #7 Hurricane Saison, which was brewed and canned at Crooked Thumb Brewing in Safety Harbor. [Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
WFTS-Ch. 28 meteorologist Denis Phillips hangs out with a clutch of Rule #7 Hurricane Saison, which was brewed and canned at Crooked Thumb Brewing in Safety Harbor. [Douglas R. Clifford | Times]

“He is knowledgeable and passionate about his job,” wrote reader Frederick Kranz. “He relates to everyday people.”

Don Germaise, reporter for ABC Action news (WFTS-Ch. 28 )

Don Germaise of WFTS, Channel 28.
Don Germaise of WFTS, Channel 28.

Germaise was the first reporter hired at WFTS-Ch. 28 and told the first story that the station broadcast in 1994, according to Times archives.

The reporter used the phrase “hunker down” so often during hurricane coverage that some viewers created a drinking game around it.

Germaise retired in 2012 as WFTS-Ch. 28’s longest-tenured reporter.

Roy Leep, chief meteorologist for Fox Channel 13, and Scud the Weather Dog

Roy Leep and Scud, his dog on the station's set. [Bruce Hosking | Times archives]
Roy Leep and Scud, his dog on the station's set. [Bruce Hosking | Times archives]

Roy Leep cemented his place in Tampa Bay history as the longtime weatherman at WTVT Channel 13. He left such a mark on WTVT that the station named its weather department the Roy Leep Weather Center in his honor. He also designed SkyTower, the first and most powerful privately owned Doppler radar in the world, according to Times archives.

Leep’s trusty companion was Scud the weather dog, a cairn terrier named after a type of cloud. She could be seen on Channel 13 from 1987 to 1997. She was almost 18 years old when she died in 2003.

Roy Leep presents a forecast on WTVT in 1960. He is pointing to a working wind gauge, one of the most advanced meteorological instruments ever seen in a televised local forecast in an era when most weather reports were given using only chalkboards, magnets, and drawings. [Courtesy of Roy Leep | Times archives]
Roy Leep presents a forecast on WTVT in 1960. He is pointing to a working wind gauge, one of the most advanced meteorological instruments ever seen in a televised local forecast in an era when most weather reports were given using only chalkboards, magnets, and drawings. [Courtesy of Roy Leep | Times archives]

Leep spent four decades at WTVT-Ch. 13 before retiring as chief meteorologist in 1997. But his love of weather led him to start his own weather station in 2003 — in his retirement home condo. He started forecasting for the other residents at University Village retirement community on the in-house TV station Channel 95. The general public can get his broadcast weather updates by following his Twitter account, @CW1018_UNIVLG.

Paul Dellegatto, chief meteorologist for Fox Channel 13

The Massachusetts native joined WTVT in 1990, working under Roy Leep for seven years before taking over as chief meteorologist when Leep retired in 1997. He’s the longest tenured meteorologist at the station and “was the first meteorologist in the country to show the various spaghetti models that illustrate the complexity of tracking tropical systems,” according to his bio on Fox 13’s website.

He always knew that he wanted to be a meteorologist, he told the Times in a 2012 interview.

“I was the science geek,” he said. “I used to always stare at the snow through the window at class in school.”

Before coming to Tampa he moved to Winston-Salem, where viewers were so displeased with his Boston accent that they mailed him one-way plane ticket vouchers to send him home. He spent two weeks at a speech school in Dallas to change his speech.

David Grant, chief meteorologist for WFLA-TV, Ch. 8

David Grant [Times archives]
David Grant [Times archives]

Grant spent four decades of his life as a meteorologist. He was a forecaster for the Air Force and went on to work in Atlanta, Houston, Seattle and Oklahoma before coming to Florida.

He was the chief meteorologist at WFLA-TV, Ch. 8 for 14 years before retiring in 1999. Two decades later, his former viewers still think fondly of him.

“His life was weather,” wrote Gayle N. Hages via Twitter. “Nobody did forecasting better... When power went out in the station, he improvised with drawings outside, as he trained his successor, Steve Jerve."

WFLA Channel 8 set up an outdoor studio in back of their building when they lost power in 1998. On the right, Steve Jerve and David Grant draw the graphics for their 5:00 pm weather show. [Fraser Hale | Times]
WFLA Channel 8 set up an outdoor studio in back of their building when they lost power in 1998. On the right, Steve Jerve and David Grant draw the graphics for their 5:00 pm weather show. [Fraser Hale | Times]
Former WFLA TV News Channel 8 weatherman David Grant and his wife Beverly pose for a portrait behind their home in Tampa on September 27, 2012. [Edmund D. Fountain | Times]
Former WFLA TV News Channel 8 weatherman David Grant and his wife Beverly pose for a portrait behind their home in Tampa on September 27, 2012. [Edmund D. Fountain | Times]

Grant was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010 and died two months after stopping treatment in 2012.

Friends and colleagues remembered him not just as a spectacular forecaster, but also for his spirit and kindness.

“I really liked his on-air, friendly appeal. … He was always so excited about what he was doing and I wanted to mimic some of that myself,” WFTS-Ch. 28 forecaster Wayne Shattuck told the Times in 2012. “He was a great meteorologist, but he was also a good person.”

Dick Fletcher, chief meteorologist for WTSP-Channel 10

Dick Fletcher was the weatherman for 28 years on Tampa Bay's 10 News. [Times archives]
Dick Fletcher was the weatherman for 28 years on Tampa Bay's 10 News. [Times archives]

Over Dick Fletcher’s 30-year career, he rose to become an icon in the Tampa Bay Area.

Fletcher gained a large following during his marathon coverage of Hurricane Elena in 1985.

“It lingered out in the Gulf for quite a while, with nobody sure which way it was going to turn,” wrote reader Jeff Patterson, who was a police officer in Clearwater at the time of the storm.

“I got on the police radio and asked if there was any official information about it, but they had none,” Patterson said. "So I went back to the house, knocked on the door, and asked if they had the TV on. They said yes, and they were talking about evacuations. Dick Fletcher was on Channel 10, talking about which evacuation zones were affected. So I got back on the police radio and told them, “Well, according to Dick Fletcher, there’s a mandatory evacuation for Zone A….”

Dick Fletcher at WTSP. [Mark Guss | Times archives]
Dick Fletcher at WTSP. [Mark Guss | Times archives]

Fletcher also was known for interacting with viewers. He answered questions during his “Weather Whys” segment and loved to educate children and senior citizens on weather preparation. He also stood by a “3-degree-guarantee,” giving out Channel 10 mugs and T-shirts when his forecast was off by more than 3 degrees.

After Fletcher died in 2008, hundreds of viewers sent cards and offered condolences online.

Other Tampa Bay favorites

Readers love to get the weather forecast from these local meteorologists.

Steve Jerve, chief meteorologist for WFLA-TV, Ch. 8

Steve Jerve of News Channel 8 [Times archives]
Steve Jerve of News Channel 8 [Times archives]

“Steve Jerve for ‘04 season of terror Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne,” wrote Gayle N. Hages via Twitter. “In ‘05 Steve guided us steady as Katrina scared the nation and Rita & Wilma inflicted more trauma.”

Leigh Spann, meteorologist for WFLA-TV, Ch. 8

Leigh Spann, meteorologist for WFLA-8 in Tampa. [Jay Nolan | Times archives]
Leigh Spann, meteorologist for WFLA-8 in Tampa. [Jay Nolan | Times archives]

Diane Kacmarik and the rest of the Bay News 9 weather team

Have another favorite local weatherperson, past or present? Let us know in the comments.

Contact Gabrielle Calise at [email protected] Follow @gabriellecalise.