90 Amazing Facts About the '90s

MarkPiovesan/ iStock, Getty Images Plus
MarkPiovesan/ iStock, Getty Images Plus

As we near the 20th anniversary of the end of the ‘90s, it’s only appropriate to look back at the music, movies, TV shows, and unfortunate fashion trends that helped make the decade what it was. For those who lived through it, these 90 facts about the ‘90s should bring a nostalgic smile to your face. For everyone else, try not to judge the decade too harshly for its Hanson albums, love of pogs, and PalmPilots.

1. People believed Furbies were spying on them.

In 1999, people believed that Furbies contained computer chips so they could record words and repeat them. Obviously that wasn't true, but the National Security Agency still banned people from bringing their Furbies to work.

2. Jennifer Aniston hated her Friends haircut.

Jennifer Aniston haircut. 90 facts about the '90s.
NBC Television/Getty Images

Jennifer Aniston's haircut on Friends, known as "the Rachel," was just as big of a hit as the show itself. But in later years, the actress has admitted she wasn't a fan—in fact, she called it “the ugliest haircut I've ever seen."

3. Alanis Morissette's hit song, "Ironic," got irony wrong.

No, "a traffic jam when you're already late" isn't actually irony, but Morissette does note that it's ironic that a song call "Ironic" is not filled with ironies. Touché.

4. Napster was on millions of computers around the globe.

The music-sharing program launched in 1999, and within two years, it had 26.4 million users.

5. AOL Instant Messenger became a sensation.

AOL Instant Messenger launched in 1997 and gained 53 million users in less than 10 years and wasn't full discontinued until December 2017.

6. Pagers were one of the most important ways to communicate.

In 1994, 61 million people were sporting pagers.

7. Hillary Clinton slighted a country music legend.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. 90 Facts About the '90s.
Simon Bruty /Allsport

In 1992 during a 60 Minutes interview about Bill’s infidelity, Hillary Clinton said, “I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.” Hillary later gave an apology to the singer.

8. The '90s book Who Moved My Cheese? was big everywhere. 

The 1998 self-help book even sold a couple million copies in China, where it inspired books like Whose Cheese Should I Move? and No One Can Move My Cheese! This is especially weird when you consider that cheese does not really have a place in Chinese cuisine.

9. Jackie Chan was a beast.

Well, for Disney, anyway. He voiced the Beast for the Chinese release of Beauty and the Beast.

10. Those chokers everyone wore during high school? There's a lot of history there. 

You may remember that choker necklaces made a comeback in the '90s. Throughout history they've had different implications, like during the French Revolution, some women wore red ribbons around their neck to pay tribute to those who had been executed. In the 1800s, it was a way to identify prostitutes.

11. Doc Martens became popular again in the '90s grunge community.

Doc Martens became a huge fashion trend in the 1990s.
Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images

The inventor, Claus Martens, came up with the idea when he needed a low-impact shoe after a ski accident.

12. Miss Cleo told people their futures (but probably not).

Miss Cleo was the spokesperson for Psychic Readers Network Inc. and was known for making psychic readings on her pay-per-call service to people who would dial in. She later got a $5 million fine from the FTC for making deceptive claims, you know, like about being psychic. The amazing thing is that they didn't see it coming.

13. In 1990, NC-17 became an official movie rating.

The first movie to get the rating? 1990's Henry & June.

14. Slap Bracelets noisily adorned wrists in high schools everywhere.

This short-lived fad was invented by a high school shop teacher who was playing with steel ribbons.

15. Billy Crystal missed out on Toy Story.

Billy Crystal at the premiere of Monsters University.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Pixar's hit 1995 animated film raked in an astounding $373 million worldwide, so it shouldn't come as a shock that Crystal has publicly said turning down the role of Buzz Lightyear was one of his biggest regrets. 

16. Pulp Fiction wasn't sponge-worthy.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus turned down the role of Mia in Pulp Fiction due to her Seinfeld commitment.

17. The "show about nothing" had one rule.

Larry David made a “no hugging, no learning” rule for Seinfeld scripts. Basically, he didn't want the characters to have sentimental, Full House-y revelations.

18. Microsoft Office ... for Mac?

You probably associate Microsoft Office with your '90s PC, but the program was actually first released in 1989 for Apple Macintosh computers. The Windows version came in October 1990. 

19. The voice behind your mail unveiled.

The voice who announced "You've Got Mail!" whenever you received an e-mail was Elwood Edwards. He recorded the saying in his living room on a cassette deck.

20. The PalmPilot was the precursor to an ipad.

Jeff Hawkins developed the PalmPilot’s look by cutting a block of wood to the right size and using a short chopstick as the model for the writing utensil.

21. "I'll Be There For You" Reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Rembrandts stand on stage before performing on the "Today" show at Rockefeller Plaza May 6, 2004
Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

The Rembrandts can thank the television program Friends for their only hit, "I’ll Be There for You," which was co-written by the show's producers.

22. NSYNC owes their name to Justin Timberlake's mom. 

Justin Timberlake's mom came up with the name *NSYNC, which was the last letter of each band member’s name. 

23. The Backstreet Boys owe their name to, well, a flea market. 

The Backstreet Boys, on the other hand, were named after a flea market in Orlando: the Backstreet Market.

24. Nintendo's Game boy slipped The Surly Bonds of Earth.

In 1993, a Russian astronaut brought his Game Boy to space. He was allowed to bring only one game, and he chose Tetris.

25. Anthony Hopkins Turned to two unlikely sources for his Hannibal Lecter voice. 

You will no doubt remember Anthony Hopkins’s distinct voice for Hannibal Lecter in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs—he called it a combination of Truman Capote and Katherine Hepburn.

26. Warheads candy made everyone pucker up.

Did you know that the mascot on Warheads candy actually has a name? It's Wally Warheads.

27. Power Rangers was banned in New Zealand. 

The Power Rangers at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for Saban Brands

While many Power Rangers shows were filmed in New Zealand during the '90s, the show itself was banned there for violence until 2011.

28. Pogs were Banned from schools around the country. 

Those little circles of cardboard were banned at many schools in the '90s because people thought they promoted gambling. Little did they know, Pogs are worthless.

29. The Massive Mall of America Opened in 1992 in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Seven Yankee Stadiums could fit inside this mammoth monument to shopping.

30. Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" wasn't supposed to be a hit.

Vanilla Ice rapping with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

"Ice Ice Baby" was originally a B-side, and the song only caught on when a radio deejay in Georgia played it, possibly by accident.

31. The bucket hat made a valiant comeback.

In Australia, bucket hats are known as "giggle hats."

32. There was originally an entire song in The Lion King about eating bugs.

The 1994 animated film wound up grossing over $950 million worldwide, so it certainly didn't miss this tune too much. 

33. And by the way, young Simba was voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

The older Simba was voiced by Matthew Broderick. 

34. And here's the most '90s fact we've got.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas won the first-ever Nickelodeon Kids Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on the sitcom Home Improvement.

The cast of TV's 'Home Improvement.'
Getty Images.

35. eBay launched in 1995.

The pioneering auction site was originally called AuctionWeb.

36. The Perks of Being a Wallflower hit shelves in 1999.

Author Stephen Chbosky got the idea for the book's format because he once wrote an anonymous letter to professor who gave a seminar at USC.

37. Michael Jordan won six NBA titles in eight years (1991-1993, 1996-1998).

A close-up photo of Air Jordans during a '90s NBA game.
Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

Jordan may have gotten rich off of Nike Air Jordans, but he wanted to wear Adidas. In fact, he brought them his Nike contract and said if they could come close to matching it, he'd sign with them. But they didn't.

38. One '90s myth to debunk: Jordan was cut by his high school basketball team.

This myth blew up during his '90s title streak, but it's not true. It is true, however, that he was put on the JV team, which was still probably a mistake in retrospect, but yeah.

39. Another '90s myth: the Taco Bell Chihuahua commercial stopped when the dog died.

In fact, they stopped when we collectively realized that those commercials were unbelievably annoying.

40. Chuckie from Rugrats was based on the lead singer of Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh.

Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh.
Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Mothersbaugh also worked as a composer on the show. 

41. The Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990.

According to the Space Telescope Science Institute, it was able to lock onto a target without deviating more than the width of a human hair seen at a distance of one mile.

42. Chris Wiggs invented the Polly Pocket after making a doll house for his daughter in a powder compact.

Though the popular toyline debuted in the late '80s, it owned the first half of the '90s. 

43. JNCO jeans made our pant legs far wider (and our public property much more colorful).

You can blame graffiti artists for the popularity of JNCO jeans—the company hired them to paint murals to advertise the jeans in LA.

44. A dog brought Jurassic Park's iconic roar to life.

To get the sound for the T. rex in Jurassic Park, the crew slowed down a recording of a Jack Russell terrier playing with a rope.

45. Carmen Sandiego has a full name. 

Her middle name is actually Isabella, so we know who she is—but do we know where she is?

46. Pepsi tested around 3,000 variations for Crystal Pepsi, which was still not enough.

A tub full of Crystal Pepsi.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Crystal Pepsi

All that effort for a drink that was launched in 1992 and gone by 1994. 

47. Britney Spears's cousin played her love interest in the "Baby One More Time" music video.

Ol' cousin Chad had a moment in the spotlight in the video that would go on to launch Britney Spears's career. 

48. The "Hamster Dance" website from 1998 is still live

Art student Deidre LaCarte created the Hamster Dance web page in 1998 to increase traffic to her website.

49. In 1997, people sold Tickle Me Elmos online for the reasonable price of $1500.

It retailed for $30, but the hottest toy of the 1997 Holiday season soon became a scalper's dream. 

50. Saved by the Bell started as a show about a teacher in Indianapolis called Good Morning, Miss Bliss.

It was retooled in 1989 into the familiar series that people still watch reruns of today. 

51. Tara Lipinski started out as a roller skater before she ever went on ice.

Tara Lipinski wins gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Mike Powell / Staff

She would go on to win a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

52. When the Hummer was released in 1992, it weighed 10,000 pounds and got less than 10 miles to the gallon.

Now, electric Hummers are being prototyped. 

53. Another popular 1992 invention: light-up sneakers.

LA Gear sold around 5 million pairs annually for the first few years.

54. The Matrix was a gamble for Warner Bros. 

1999 Carrie-Anne Moss Stars In "The Matrix." 1999 Warner Bros. And Village Roadshow Film.
Getty Images

Execs at Warner Brothers weren't sure about The Matrix, considering that the writers and directors, the Wachowskis, were unknowns, so they created a 600-page shot-for-shot storyboard to convince the studio to make the movie. It went on to gross more than $450 million. 

55. Mattel sued MCA records over the song "Barbie Girl" by Aqua for copyright infringement.

The case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals where judge Alex Kozinski said “the parties are advised to chill.”

56. Psychic Uri Geller sued Pokemon.

He believed that the character Kadabra, who also bent spoons with his mind, was based on him. The character has since been retired.

57. R.L. Stine wasn't a complete unknown before writing the Goosebumps series.

R.L. Stine speaks during "Make it Matter Day" in support of literacy and education at The New York Public Library.
Andy Kropa/Getty Images

He also wrote the novelizations for Spaceballs and Ghostbusters 2.

58. The toy Bop It was inspired by the games Simon and Whack-a-Mole.

And all these years later, you can still buy it on Amazon. 

59. Sabrina the Teenage Witch Has a Familiar ZIP code.

Sabrina, the teenage witch, lives in a fictional town, Westbridge, but its ZIP Code is the real ZIP Code for Salem, Massachusetts. She also lives at 133 Collins Road, the same address from Dark Shadows. By the way, Sabrina’s cat is also named Salem.

60. The Thighmaster was invented by Joshua Reynolds, heir to the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.

He also invented the mood ring.

61. speaking of innovators: '90s boy band Hanson has their own beer brand called mmmHops now.

 The boy band Hanson. 90 facts about the '90s.
Brenda Chase / Stringer

Well, now that they're all of legal drinking age, of course. 

62. 80 members of the crew for the movie Titanic got sick on the same day.

Some were even hospitalized due to hallucinations. It turned out that someone had spiked the lobster chowder with PCP.

63. We know who's responsible for Budweiser's "Whassup" commercials. 

Justin Reardon came up with the "Whassup" Budweiser commercial, and for his hard work, the company gave him a $250 bonus and a baseball bat "that said something like, 'Way to go, slugger!'"

64. Nirvana released Nevermind and left Metallica gushing over it. (Though Lars still hates ... something.)

Nirvana once received the following fax: “We really dig Nirvana. Nevermind is the best album of the year. Let's get together soon, love, Metallica. P.S., Lars hates the band." Unclear whether the band in question was Metallica or Nirvana, but regardless, probably true.

65. The first Google server’s storage rack was made out of Legos.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Now the company makes over $100 billion a year.

66. The Doug Funnie character originated in Florida grapefruit juice commercials.

It wasn't until two years later that the character made his Nickelodeon debut in Doug

67. Super Soaker inventor Lonnie Johnson shot the water gun in the middle of a meeting with the president of Larami toy company.

Johnson is also a former engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

68. The Macarena made it to the DNC.

The Macarena was so popular during the 1996 Democratic National Convention that Al Gore made the following joke: “And if I could have your silence, I would like to demonstrate for you the Al Gore version the Macarena,” at which point he stood completely still.

69. The Magic School Bus Was Created to Keep Young Girls and Minorities Interested in Science. 

Producer Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment says they were inspired to create the Magic School Bus TV show after learning that many girls and minorities were opting out of science at young ages.

70. In the original Sonic the Hedgehog, the SEGA logo and sound at the beginning took up 1/8 of the cartridge's memory for the game.

The Sonic the Hedgehog balloon is seen during the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City.
Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Sega of America

Worth it.

71. Amy Heckerling, who wrote and directed Clueless, sat in on high school classes to get a feel for how real teens talk.

It paid off, as Clueless grossed more than $50 million at the box office. 

72. Hermione Granger's last name was almost Puckle.

Hey Puckle, we can't help but notice that your initials are H.P.

73. The Coca-Cola company released Surge to compete with Mountain Dew.

While the drink was in the creation stages, employees called it "Mountain Dew Killer."

74. The princess Beanie Baby raised over $15 million for the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

They now go for over $10,000 on eBay

75. David Lynch and Mark Frost once tried to make a biopic about Marilyn Monroe.

That project fell through, but they ended up making Twin Peaks, also about a beloved blonde who died tragically young, resulting in secrets being revealed.

76. 32 percent of the original iMacs were sold to first-time computer buyers.

Workers setting up Apple iMacs in 1999.
Getty Images

The original model went on sale August 15, 1998. 

77. Mike Myers got the inspiration for the Austin Powers film after hearing the Dusty Springfield song, "The Look of Love."

The original 1997 Austin Powers grossed more than $50 million against a $16 million budget. The sequel, 1999's The Spy Who Shagged Me, went on to gross more than $300 million worldwide. 

78. Destiny's Child was originally called Girls Tyme.

The group's debut album hit stores on February 17, 1998. 

79. Bridget Jones originated in a newspaper column in The Independent.

Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones Diaries have sold 15 million copies worldwide and have been made into two hit films.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The first book, Bridget Jones's Diary, came out in 1996. 

80. The most-remembered slogan in beverage history is "Got Milk?"

Remember that "Alexander Hamilton" commercial for the "Got Milk?" campaign? It was directed by Michael Bay. 

81. Will Smith knew that people would call him by his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air character name for the rest of his life, so he named the character Will Smith.

And yes, we still call him that. 

82. While Tupac was in high school, his friend got shot while playing with a gun.

Tupac then wrote his first rap, which was about gun control.

83. 1991's My Girl made Macaulay Culkin the first child actor to be paid $1 million for a film.

Home Alone 2 brought him $4.5 million just a year later. 

84. While the Nintendo 64 was in development, its code name was "Project Reality."

 A Nintendo 64 on the shelf in 1999.
Joe Raedle/Newsmakers

Its proposed final name was the "Ultra 64," and it was even referenced as such up until a few months before its release. 

85. Back in 1997, a band called Kara’s Flowers performed on Beverly Hills 90210

They're now called Maroon 5.

86. Simon Cowell wanted to sign the Spice Girls back in the day, but he approached them too late.

He calls this his biggest regret.

87. Marilyn Manson originally performed with friends like Madonna, Wayne Gacy, and Olivia Newton Bundy.

Marilyn Manson with Rose McGowan at the premiere of "Alien Resurrection."
Brenda Chase / Stringer

For what it's worth.

88. Tamagotchi comes from the Japanese words for egg and friend.

These things are still readily available if you're looking for a nostalgia fix. 

89. Lois Lowry wrote The Giver when her father was beginning to lose his memory.

The book has gone on to sell more than 10 million copies around the world. 

90. The United States spent around $100 billion dollars to prepare for Y2K.

And we're all still alive to talk about it. 

To learn more about the '90s, check out this video we did all about it:

7 Weird Super Bowl Halftime Acts

Al Bello, Getty Images
Al Bello, Getty Images

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez seem like natural choices to perform the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl, but the event didn’t always feature musical acts from major pop stars. Michael Jackson kicked off the trend at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, but prior to that, halftime shows weren’t a platform for the hottest celebrities of the time. They centered around themes instead, and may have featured appearances from Peanuts characters, Jazzercisers, or a magician dressed like Elvis. In honor of Super Bowl LIV on February 2, we’ve rounded up some of the weirdest acts in halftime show history.

1. Return of the Mickey Mouse Club

The era of Super Bowl halftimes before wardrobe malfunctions, illuminati conspiracy theories, and Left Shark was a more innocent time. For 1977’s event, the Walt Disney Company produced a show that doubled as a squeaky-clean promotion of its brand. Themed “Peace, Joy, and Love,” the Super Bowl XI halftime show opened with a 250-piece band rendition of “It’s a Small World (After All).” Disney also used the platform to showcase its recently revamped Mickey Mouse Club.

2. 88 Grand Pianos and 300 Jazzercisers

The theme of the halftime show at Super Bowl XXII in 1988 was “Something Grand.” Naturally, it featured 88 tuxedoed pianists playing 88 grand pianos. Rounding out the program were 400 swing band performers, 300 Jazzercisers, 44 Rockettes, two marching bands, and Chubby Checker telling everyone to “Twist Again."

3. Elvis Impersonator Performs the World’s Largest Card Trick

Many of the music industry's most successful pop stars—like Prince, Madonna, and, uh, Milli Vanilli—were at the height of their fame in 1989, but none of them appeared at Super Bowl XXIII. Instead, the NFL hired an Elvis Presley-impersonating magician to perform. The show, titled “BeBop Bamboozled,” was a tribute to the 1950s, and it featured Elvis Presto performing “the world’s largest card trick.” It also may have included the world's largest eye exam: The show boasted 3D effects, and viewers were urged to pick up special glasses before the game. If the visuals didn't pop like they were supposed to, people were told to see an eye doctor.

4. The Peanuts Salute New Orleans

Super Bowl XXIV featured one of the last halftime acts that was completely devoid of any musical megastars. The biggest celebrity at the 1990 halftime show was Snoopy. Part of the show’s theme was the “40th Anniversary of 'Peanuts,'” and to celebrate the milestone, performers dressed as Peanuts characters and danced on stage. The other half of the theme was “Salute to New Orleans”—not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the comic strip.

5. A Tribute to the Winter Olympics

Super Bowl XXVI preceded the 1992 Winter Olympics—a fact that was made very clear by the event’s halftime. The show was titled “Winter Magic” and it paid tribute to the winter games with ice skaters, snowmobiles, and a cameo from the 1980 U.S. hockey team. Other acts, like a group of parachute-pants-wearing children performing the “Frosty the Snowman Rap,” were more generally winter-themed than specific to the Olympics. About 22 million viewers changed the channel during halftime to watch In Living Color’s Super Bowl special, which may have convinced the NFL to hire Michael Jackson the following year.

6. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye

“Peace, Joy, and Love” wasn’t the only Disney-helmed Super Bowl halftime. In 1995, Disney produced a halftime show called “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” to tease the new Disneyland ride of the same name. It centered around a skit in which actors playing Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood stole the Vince Lombardi Trophy from an exotic temple, and it included choreographed stunts, fiery special effects, and a snake. Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett were also there.

7. The Blues Brothers, Minus John Belushi

The 1990s marked an odd period for halftime shows as they moved from schlocky themed variety shows to major music events. Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 perfectly encapsulates this transition period. James Brown and ZZ Top performed, but the headliners were the Blues Brothers. John Belushi had been dead for more than a decade by that point, so Jim Belushi took his place beside Dan Aykroyd. John Goodman was also there to promote the upcoming movie Blues Brother 2000. The flashy advertisement didn’t have the impact they had hoped for and the film was a massive flop when it premiered.

11 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of TV Meteorologists

nicoletaionescu/iStock via Getty Images
nicoletaionescu/iStock via Getty Images

The first weather forecast to hit national network television was given in 1949 by legendary weatherman Clint Youle. To illustrate weather systems, Youle covered a paper map of the U.S. in plexiglass and drew on it with a marker. A lot has changed in the world of meteorology since then, but every day, millions of families invite their local weatherman or weatherwoman into their living room to hear the forecast. Here are a few things you might not know about being a TV meteorologist.

1. SOME PEOPLE JUST NEVER MASTER THE GREEN SCREEN.

 A meteorologist working in front of a green screen.
eldinhoid/iStock via Getty Images

On-camera meteorologists might look as if they’re standing in front of a moving weather map, but in reality, there’s nothing except a blank green wall behind them. Thanks to the wonders of special effects, a digital map can be superimposed onto the green screen for viewers at home. TV monitors situated just off-camera show the meteorologist what viewers at home are seeing, which is how he or she knows where to stand and point. It’s harder than it looks, and for some rookie meteorologists, the learning curve can be steep.

“Some people never learn it,” says Gary England, legendary weatherman and former chief meteorologist for Oklahoma’s KWTV (England was also the first person to use Doppler radar to warn viewers about incoming systems). “For some it comes easily, but I’ve seen people never get used to it.”

Stephanie Abrams, meteorologist and co-host of The Weather Channel’s AMHQ, credits her green screen skills to long hours spent playing Nintendo and tennis as a kid. “You’ve gotta have good hand-eye coordination,” she says.

2. THEY HAVE A STRICT DRESS CODE.

Green is out of the question for on-air meteorologists, unless they want to blend into the map, but the list of prohibited wardrobe items doesn’t stop there. “Distracting prints are a no-no,” Jennifer Myers, a Dallas-based meteorologist for Oncorwrites on Reddit. “Cleavage angers viewers over 40 something fierce, so we stay away from that. There's no length rule on skirts/dresses but if you wouldn't wear it to a family event, you probably shouldn't wear it on TV. Nothing reflective. Nothing that makes sound.”

Myers says she has enough dresses to go five weeks without having to wear a dress twice. But all the limitations can make it difficult to find work attire that’s fashionable, looks good on-screen, and affordable. This is especially true for women, which is why when they find a garment that works, word spreads quickly. For example, this dress, which sold for $23 on Amazon, was shared in a private Facebook group for female meteorologists and quickly sold out in every color but green.

3. BUT IT’S CASUAL BELOW THE KNEE.

Since their feet rarely appear on camera, some meteorologists take to wearing casual, comfortable footwear, especially on long days. For example, England told the New York Times that during storm season, he was often on his feet for 12 straight hours. So, “he wears Mizuno running shoes, which look ridiculous with his suit and tie but provide a bit of extra cushioning,” Sam Anderson writes.

And occasionally female meteorologists will strap their mic pack to their calves or thighs rather than the more unpleasant option of stuffing it into their waistband or strapping it onto their bra.

4. THERE ARE TRICKS TO STAYING WARM IN A SNOWSTORM.

“In the field when I’m covering snow storms, I go to any pharmacy and get those back patches people wear, those heat wraps, and stick them all over my body,” explains Abrams. “Then I put on a wet suit. When you’re out for as long as we are, that helps you stay dry. I have to be really hot when I go out for winter storms.”

5. THERE’S NO SCRIPT.

Your local TV weather forecaster is ad-libbing from start to finish. “Our scripts are the graphics we create,” says Jacob Wycoff, a meteorologist with Western Mass News. “Generally speaking we’re using the graphics to talk through our stories, but everything we say is ad-libbed. Sometimes you can fumble the words you want to say, and sometimes you may miss a beat, but I think what that allows you to do is have a little off-the-cuff moment, which I think the viewers enjoy.”

6. MOM’S THE AUDIENCE.

A retro image of a weatherwoman.
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Part of a meteorologist’s job is to break down very complicated scientific terminology and phenomena into something the general public can not only stomach, but crave. “The trick is … to approach the weather as if you're telling a story: Who are the main actors? Where is the conflict? What happens next?” explains Bob Henson, a Weather Underground meteorologist. “Along the way, you have the opportunity to do a bit of teaching. Weathercasters are often the only scientists that a member of the public will encounter on a regular basis on TV.”

Wycoff’s method for keeping it simple is to pretend like he’s having a conversation with his mom. “I’d pretend like I was giving her the forecast,” he says. “If my mom could understand it, I felt confident the general audience could as well. Part of that is also not using completely science-y terms that go over your audience’s head.”

7. SOCIAL MEDIA HAS MADE THEIR JOBS MORE DIFFICULT.

Professional meteorologists spend a lot of time debunking bogus forecasts spreading like wildfire across Twitter. “We have a lot of social media meteorologists that don’t have necessarily the background or training to create great forecasts,” Wycoff says. “We have to educate our viewers that they should know the source they’re getting information from.”

“People think it’s as easy as reading a chart,” says Scott Sistek, a meteorologist and weather blogger for KOMO TV in Seattle. “A lot of armchair meteorologists at home can look at a chart and go ok, half an inch of rain. But we take the public front when it’s wrong.”

8. THEY MAKE LIFE-OR-DEATH DECISIONS.

People plan their lives around the weather forecast, and when a storm rolls in, locals look to their meteorologist for guidance on what to do. If he or she gets the path of a tornado wrong, or downplays its severity, people’s lives are in danger. “If you miss a severe weather forecast and someone’s out on the ball field and gets stuck, someone could get injured,” says Wycoff. “It is a great responsibility that we have.”

Conversely, England says when things get dangerous, some people are reluctant to listen to a forecaster’s advice because they don’t like being told what to do. He relies on a little bit of psychological maneuvering to get people to take cover. “You suggest, you don’t tell,” he says. “You issue instructions but in a way where they feel like they’re making up their own minds.”

9. DON’T BANK ON THOSE SEVEN-DAY FORECASTS.

A weatherman reporting during a storm.
pxhidalgo/iStock via Getty Images

“I would say that within three days, meteorologists are about 90 percent accurate,” Wycoff says. “Then at five days we’re at about 60 percent to 75 percent and then after seven days it becomes a bit more wishy-washy.”

10. THEY’RE FRENEMIES.

The competition for viewers is fierce, and local meteorologists are all rivals in the same race. “When you’re in TV, all meteorologists at other competitors are the enemy,” England says. “You’re not good friends with them. They try to steal the shoes off your children and food off your plate. If they get higher ratings, they get more money.”

11. THEY’RE TIRED OF HEARING THE SAME JOKE OVER AND OVER.

“There’s always the running joke: ‘I wish I could be paid a million dollars to be wrong 80 percent of the time,’” Sistek says. “I wanted to have a contest for who can come up with the best weatherman insult, because we need something new! Let’s get creative here.”

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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