It might have been tempting to blow the tornado sirens in his honor when Bud Kraehling resigned, but it wouldn’t have been apt.

Kraehling was low-key. He wasn’t the sort of man who’d shout about the danger. But when the sirens blew, Bud was the one you’d tune in to find out what was headed your way.

No fancy graphics. He drew on the map with a grease pencil. The pictures didn’t change behind him when someone flipped a switch; he strolled to the next map.

No breathless hype. A man in a TV studio whom you trusted to tell you what you needed to know, and possibly knew it first: WCCO had weather radar in the Twin Cities before the U.S. Weather Bureau. He had a 46-year run in an industry renowned for shoveling someone out the door when the numbers dipped, and he left on his own terms.

It’s been 19 years since he did the weather, but longtime Minnesotans still find themselves surprised sometimes to turn on the TV and see someone else.

In a deadpan interview with longtime WCCO anchor Dave Moore, Kraehling explained his methods for getting the forecast. “I call the weather bureau, and say hi, what’s the weather? And then I write it down and say it to the folks.” Not the audience, or the viewers. The folks.

His training? “Just living here in Minnesota,” he told Moore, “is an education in the weather.”

True. Experience is the best teacher, and Kraehling had half a century’s worth. But knowing what type of cloud is drifting overhead or what the barometer’s dip means — it’s just data. In clips of Kraehling as he strolls along the wall of maps, calling our attention to a cold front with those long conductor’s hands, it was a conversation.

He wasn’t a meteorologist. He was a weatherman.

James Lileks