For the first time in 32 years, AccuWeather will be without one of its most celebrated and controversial lead forecasters.
Joe Bastardi announced Monday that he was leaving the company, with spokesperson Justin Roberti calling the departure as something of a "surprise." Reasons for his resignation were not given.
"This was [Bastardi's] choice," Roberti added. "We're appreciative of his great forecasts."
During his time at AccuWeather, Bastardi became a rising star — a path that eventually made him the top content creator for the company's subscription-based AccuWeather Pro website. Members pay $24.95 per month or $249.95 per year for access to this exclusive (and profitable) version of the free weather site.
His style of forecasting was both praised and scorned. Many enjoyed the humorous and brash predictions he made, seeing it as a refreshing alternative to the probability models used by others. Critics, however, thought his style "over-hyped" and heavy on the scare tactics.
"Bastardi seemed to lie at the other end of the spectrum, seeking to scare the bloody daylights out of viewers," wrote Scott Stevens of the Houston Chronicle after Bastardi badly predicted the path of Hurricane Rita. The Chronicle later named him "worst weather forecaster."
With Bastardi's departure, AccuWeather will now have to figure out how to retain members who looked to the entertaining veteran for seasonal forecasts and hurricane predictions. Already, some fans on the company's Facebook page were expressing dismay.
"For your sake, AccuWeather, lets hope Joe Bastardi leaving isn't the sounding of your death knell ringing," wrote one disgruntled commenter.
For the scientific community, Bastardi's resignation is probably being met with a bit of delight. For years now, the forecaster has railed against the idea of man-made climate change. He believes the entire process is natural, and has appeared on everything from Fox News to "The Colbert Report" to defend his position.
In a January 2011 article for the conservative journal National Review, Bastardi predicted that over the next decade, the Earth will cool rather than continue heating up.
“The scientific approach is you see the other argument, you put forward predictions about where things are going to go, and you test them,” he says. “That is what I have done. I have said the Earth will cool .1 to .2 Celsius in the next ten years, according to objective satellite data.”
Bastardi went on to list five reasons to back up his prediction; most of which run counter to the major themes of modern climate change science.
Whether you agree with him or not, don't expect him to go away. Bastardi's celebrity as a weather forecaster will certainly land him a gig somewhere else; though it will be interesting to see whether it's with a reputable weather company — or Fox News. Stay tuned.
Watch Bastardi battle it out with Bill Nye the Science Guy over Global Warming on "O'Reilly" below: