Column: The forecast is sunny for retired KUSI TV meteorologist Dave Scott


When KUSI TV’s Paul Rudy interviewed Dave Scott ahead of Scott’s farewell show on March 27, Rudy joked that the station’s weatherman was just days away from his sunset.

But the sun actually rises on another longtime passion of the 30-year weather veteran. Scott, who turns 65 this month, will devote his full attention to his other career, music.

As a boy growing up in Hawaii, Scott saved his newspaper money to buy a trombone for Trummy Young, who played trombone with Louis Armstrong’s band Armstrong’s All Stars.

Prior to his weather career, Scott played jazz trombone gigs around San Diego, where his family moved when Scott was in high school. He performed in the 70s and beyond with the Fro Brigham Preservation Jazz Band in downtown San Diego. He also played for several years at the Holiday Inn at the Embarcadero five nights a week.

One day, after CNN was born in 1980, a corporate decision was made to install big screen televisions in the living room where Scott was performing. “We were replaced by CNN, and that got me thinking,” says Scott, who realized it was time to develop a second career.

A science enthusiast and longtime admirer of local TV personality and weatherman Bob Dale, Scott decided weather was what he wanted to do.

In fact, Scott’s signature bow ties, worn for two decades, were a tribute to the late Dale, known for his handmade bow ties. Even after switching to regular ties, Scott continued to wear a bow tie on Dale’s birthday. He resurrected his bow tie for his KUSI farewell show on March 27.

Scott began learning the trade by interning with Wilbur Shigehara at the local office of the National Weather Service. He also interned at Channel 10 (in sports), K-pop radio, and worked in the student-run News Scene newsroom at San Diego City College.

Armed with a videotape of his performance, Scott landed a job as a meteorologist in Yuma, Arizona, followed by six weeks of forecasting in Tucson before KUSI in San Diego made him a job offer.

In fact, it was at a small cafe in Yuma that Scott received an education from Imperial Valley farmers who made him realize the critical need for accurate weather reporting for their crops and livelihoods.

“When I came back to San Diego, I always took that lesson with me,” he says. Rain, temperature, wind speed and other weather factors are essential for landscapers, golf course operators, roofers, line pilots, boat operators, event planners and many other occupations. Forecasts must be accurate.

In 1997, Scott earned his certification in broadcast meteorology, followed by a degree in geosciences, and in 2001 received his broadcast meteorology seal of approval from the American Meteorological Society.

Scott has produced weekend morning and evening weather segments for years, in addition to reporting and developing his own shows.

His “On the Edge” series covered local breakthroughs in science and technology. For nearly three years, he produced and hosted “More of the Wild,” animal stories with San Diego Zoo Animal Ambassador Joan Embery. In recent years, “Dave’s World of Wonder” segments have provided glimpses of interesting or unusual people and places in San Diego.

He chose the name largely for its acronym, “WOW,” which is the reaction he hoped to elicit from viewers. He estimates that he produced 5,000-6,000 of these 3-4 minute mini-stories.

Contrary to some people’s description of San Diego’s weather as “boring,” Scott never viewed it that way. Fascinated by the underlying science, he delved into related phenomena – El Niño, Santa Ana winds, erosion, mysterious light trails in the sky, meteors, eclipses, red tides, bioluminescence, king tides, sea layers, flowing air, fog formation, green lightning and snowfall in the mountains of the county.

“In Fashion Valley, I was more than once in waist deep water to report flooded areas,” he recalls. In 2008, he covered a tornado that touched down in Poway. He also covered a waterspout entering the Carlsbad area. If San Diego’s weather was tame, he spoke of storms elsewhere in the country.

Among the highlights of his career in the news:

He was in La Jolla Shores interviewing SDSU geologist Pat Abbott about erosion when a huge piece of coastal cliff broke away.

Carol Channing taught her to tap dance during a WOW interview.

After reporting on Frankie Laine’s life, the crooner, who lived in Point Loma, occasionally dropped by and took the mic during one of Scott’s band sessions.

At the zoo, Scott found himself inside an elephant’s trunk and wrapped in a boa constrictor.

He developed lasting friendships with golfers Lee Elder and Billy Casper.

He found Robin Williams, who rides annual charity cycling events here, to be one of the funniest and easiest interviews.

“I just stood there and didn’t have to say much…Robin would just grab the mic and start talking.”

Scott was fascinated to share the stories of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and test pilot Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier.

Perhaps his greatest admiration is reserved for military heroes of the “greatest generation”. He interviewed World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors Stu Hedley and Ray Chavez, who died at 106, and Jerry Yellin, credited with flying the last Pacific combat mission in World War II.

Scott believes in the importance of reminding people of the sacrifices made by the military to preserve our freedoms.

For now, Scott and his bandmates play Tuesday and Thursday nights at Nick & G’s Restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, Wednesdays at Hacienda Casa Blanca in El Cajon, and Fridays at DiCicco’s in Escondido.

Scott says he will miss his KUSI “family”, but his goal now is to compose music for big band and orchestra and to record more albums. His previous albums include “In a Fog” and “Partly Sunny Day” (notice the weather connections).

“I’m going to do a Christmas album (in addition to his CD ‘Christmas With You’ available on Amazon), a Latin jazz album and a big band album”, promises the songwriter.

“The new ‘World of Wonder’ for me will be wonderful little stories with their own soundtracks.”


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