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    Bryan Norcross: Weatherman catapulted into spotlight

    By Times staff writers
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 20, 2002

    On Aug. 23, 1992, Bryan Norcross was just another TV weatherman. A day later he was the most trusted voice in South Florida.

    When Hurricane Andrew ripped through the region, Norcross' calming presence helped storm victims hold it together. The WTVJ-Ch. 6 meteorologist stayed on the air 23 hours straight, even while he and the crew crowded into a small area called "The Bunker" with a handheld camera.

    He won a national Peabody Award. Officials in three cities declared a "Bryan Norcross Day." There was even a TV movie, with his role played by actor Ted Wass (best known as the dad on Blossom).

    His salary shot up, of course. But he turned down opportunities to cash in big -- offers to go to New York and be a corporate spokesman for various products. "Too cheesy," he said.

    Instead, the 51-year-old Melbourne native stayed in Miami. He made some changes -- tried anchoring the news, took an 18-month hiatus from daily broadcasting, changed stations -- but 10 years later he's still doing the weather, now for WFOR-Ch. 4.

    Lately, he has been busy preparing the station's Hurricane Andrew 10th anniversary special. It renewed his drive to improve South Florida's emergency communication system, which he says remains as woefully inadequate today as it was in 1992.

    He's also being interviewed a lot. Originally he told reporters his most vivid memory was a helicopter ride after Andrew, when he realized how many familiar landmarks had been blown away: "I know the South Dade landmarks like the back of my hand and I couldn't figure out where we were."

    But in reviewing all the old tapes recently, he realized, "I had forgotten about the depth of the anguish that existed in people in the first three, four, five days. People were truly abandoned by their government. Maybe you forget about that because you don't want to remember it."

    -- CRAIG PITTMAN and CARYN BAIRD

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