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Longtime Pittsburgh meteorologist Joe DeNardo dies at 87

PITTSBURGH — Longtime Pittsburgh meteorologist Joe DeNardo has died at the age of 87.

DeNardo, of Moon Township, was the longest-serving chief meteorologist in the history of WTAE-TV, retiring in 2005, according to Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

He was with WTAE for 35 years, after having been at KDKA for 10 years.

To Severe Weather Team 11 Chief Meteorologist Stephen Cropper, DeNardo was like a second father.

PHOTOS: Remembering longtime Pittsburgh meteorologist Joe DeNardo

“From the life side of things, Joe taught me a lot about how to be a father, how to be a man, how to be a leader, and so I’ll always remember that,” Cropper said.

When it came to weather, DeNardo was a great mentor to Cropper during the years they worked together and beyond.

“Over the years I began to realize what he meant to the city and what he had done. He built himself from the ground up. He was not wealthy when he was growing up, got a math and a physics degree from Duquense and went on to get his masters in meteorology and just really loved the science aspect of weather, but was able to communicate that to viewers so that they understood,” Cropper said.

DeNardo was also an inspiration to Severe Weather Team Meteorologist Scott Harbaugh, who watched him on TV growing up.

“My parents would be watching one channel, and I would tell them about 6:15 every night, ‘Hey! We've got to turn on Joe. I have to watch Joe tonight.’ One of the many reasons I'm standing here today,” Harbaugh said.

While Harbaugh was attending Neil Armstrong Middle School in Bethel Park, DeNardo made one of his many school visits.

“I think the biggest thrill of my life -- and one of the reasons why I decided to do what I did today -- I got to present Joe with some forecasting dice. Roll the dice, make the forecast. And he was more than cordial about it. Very friendly,” Harbaugh said.

DeNardo’s sense of humor was undeniable. Cropper said his favorite story happened recently, when he turned 55 years old and received an early-morning voicemail from DeNardo.

“He said, ‘Congratulations, you’re now as old as the average overnight low temperature, 55 degrees,’” Cropper recalled.

Beyond his humor, DeNardo became known for his compassion and commitment to Pittsburgh.

DeNardo was responsible for starting WTAE's Project Bundle-Up, a coat and clothing drive.

“He was more than just the meteorologist. He was a fixture in the community. Family was number one to him, and the weather was his job, but he never put the weather above his family,” Cropper said.

Duquesne University President Ken Gormley released the following statement:

"Dr. John Murray, during his years as president of Duquesne, often spoke to me about the key role Joe DeNardo played in the success of the University during that special time of growth and rebuilding. Dr. Murray relied heavily on Joe's leadership as a member of the University board; he also turned to Joe to help spearhead the Spirit of the 90s Capital Campaign, one of the greatest fundraising efforts in the history of the University. Joe will be remembered as a giant among Duquesne alumni. He will be deeply missed by the entire University family and by the Pittsburgh community where he was an unforgettable figure, and where he left behind a rich, indelible mark."

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald issued the following statement on the death of DeNardo:

"Joe DeNardo was a staple of Pittsburgh airwaves for 45 years. Every Pittsburgher checked with Joe to decide how to dress, whether to carry an umbrella, or to find out if a snow day was in store. His skill in meteorology was matched by his heart, as one of the biggest champions for Project Bundle Up that still provides coats and winter accessories to children and seniors in our area. We were a better community because of Joe, and the phrase 'Joe Said It Would' still carries the same weight for Pittsburghers today as it did in the 90s when it was first coined. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time."