Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill’s beauty captured in long range weather calendar


The spectacular beauty of the Hudson Valley, including three views of Peekskill, are featured in the 2024 edition of the Hudson Valley Weather Calendar. The iconic long range weather calendar from meteorologist Jim Witt is a work of art that also provides hope for a child.

For just $10 at participating retailers, folks can purchase the calendar and support Witt’s Hope for Youth Foundation, which works to improve the lives of children in the Hudson Valley by raising funds for local charities and programs that help those who need physical, educational or emotional support. The testimonials on the Foundations’ website attest to the difference the Foundation has made in the lives of children.

“The work is so good; it makes me so happy,” Witt said, as he was about to start writing personal thank-you notes to folks who had recently bought his calendars. He had spent a busy December weekend signing the art work.

The calendar not only tells you when the next storm might be (and he was spot on about recent “intense storminess”) or give you a heads up about the weather for spring break, or maybe a kid some hope for a snow day, but it’s also adorned with gorgeous photographs.

January features a luscious and dreamy “Winters Color Palette” of Depew Park, February is the “The Sound of Calm” at Annsville Creek Preserve, a spot where bald eagles nest their young, and June spotlights “Friday Night on the Hudson,”  All those photos were taken by Giuliano Sista who immigrated from the capital city of L’Aquila in the Provence of Abruzzo, Italy and settled in Peekskill.

The calendar’s cover features a spectacular shot of the Bear Mountain Bridge, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024.That image is titled “Autumn in all its Beauty”.

These photos make you want to leave your house right this moment and take a walk to appreciate nature in all her glory.

The Hope for Youth Foundation began in 1986 with Gary Pease, the former owner of radio station WHUD where Witt has been the “weather guy” for decades. The Hope for Youth Foundation has raised nearly $ 6 million, benefitting more than 40 organizations throughout the Hudson Valley. New York Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, which sponsors the Foundation’s annual Golf for Hope fundraiser, buys 1,000 calendars a year. Witt has been a member of the hospital’s Foundation Board for more than 20 years.

Others organizations receiving funds from the Foundation include the Field Library, the Peekskill Rotary, Arts 10566 which provides arts instruction to Peekskill’s diverse youth community and is a featured recipient in this year’s calendar.

Funds are also used to provide scholarships to local students. In 2022, seven students from the Peekskill, Lakeland, Putnam Valley and Haldane school districts were honored for their academic and civic accomplishments. Recently, John Jay High School and Roy C. Ketchum High School in Dutchess County were added to the list.

Last year the foundation donated more than $200,000 to good causes – up from $1,000 that first year when the funds were given to Friends of Karen, an organization which helps families care for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Last month, Witt gave Bruce Lindenbaum, president of the Foundation’s 15-member Board of Directors, $8200 from calendar sales at local stores and businesses. In Peekskill you can buy them at The Field Library, Peekskill Coffee House, Dain’s Lumber, Scott Camera, and The Central.

About 20,000 calendars are printed each year with work beginning in December when the weather forecasts are completed for the following year. The majority of sales are bulk purchases by companies and organizations while others are distributed to local stores and businesses. The calendars are distributed in September.

For years, the photographs were donated by renowned Peekskill photographer Joe Deutsch, who passed away in 2018. Then the word went out asking local photographers, who sometimes submit dozens of pictures, to help the cause. The photos are chosen by the Foundation’s board based on each month’s weather.

“It’s a tough job,” Witt confirmed.

Best of all, every single dollar raised goes to the charities. There is no office, and no paid employees. The 70 or so stores that sell them do not make even a dollar from the sales. And every board member is a volunteer, Jim said, praising its members for their dedication to the cause.

“Nobody makes a penny; it all goes to the kids.” Charity Navigator recently awarded Hope for Youth Four Stars, the highest rating any organization could earn.

Jim, who got the weather bug after watching a hurricane at age 7, has had an illustrious career. It began in 1962 when he joined the faculty and then chaired the science department in the Lakeland School District and immediately established the nationally famous weather club. He would arrive at the crack of dawn and stay till early evening to help his students analyze maps and predict the weather. In those days Lakeland High School had two sessions and he didn’t want either group of students to be shortchanged.

The club was so popular and the work so exciting that some of his students went on to have amazing careers – Mike Sternberg was a senior vice president at AccuWeather; Karl Silverman, a lead meteorologist at NASA; and Dr. Frank Marks, a director of research at NOAA, the National Hurricane Center. Dr. Jordan Alpert, also a meteorologist at NOAA, developed GFS, the Global Forecast System which generates data for atmospheric and land soil variables to accurately depict weather conditions while Dr. Jim Hack, a computational climate scientist, put together some of the fastest computers in the world.

Perhaps his most well-known student is “Mr. G” – Irv Gikofsky, (left) a meteorologist for television station WPIX in NYC who came to Lakeland and worked with Jim to set up a similar club for a NYC high school. Here they are analyzing weather maps. (Photo credit: Buzz Potential)

“Lakeland gave me a hell of a start,”said Witt. Ironically, one of his earliest evaluations as an earth science teacher by an administrator noted, “Mr. Witt is very unorthodox. But let him alone. He gets fantastic results.” Witt laughed as he recalled the review.

After retiring from Lakeland in 1977, he founded Fleetweather with Tore Jakobson to help commercial clients such as shipping companies and highway departments. He also joined the faculties of Columbia, Western Connecticut and Pace Universities and taught space science for NASA. He has visited all of the Rotary Clubs in the Hudson Valley, urging them to purchase the calendar while he continues to present programs at schools in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. He had nothing but kind words for all who have supported the Foundation over the years, the work he is most proud of.

And at age 86, Jim Witt shows no signs of slowing down. “I’m still kicking and will keep on going till the guy upstairs says ‘you’re done’,” he laughed.

He’s still “ the weather guy” on WHUD Saturday mornings and also broadcasts every day for WKIT, a station in Bangor, Maine which is owned by author Stephen King. They even got together to sign books and calendars. Fun fact: Witt is named as a character in one of King’s works.

“I’m very proud that I’ve done it for 47 years,” he said, noting that he hasn’t charged either station for his broadcasts in years; he just requests that they promote his calendars.

He’s always running around distributing and signing them. He was a ball of fire when I accidentally ran into him at B&L Deli in Cold Spring a few weeks ago, jumping up to greet and hug me when I stopped by for some lunch. On a recent weekend, he spent several hours at Jones Farm in Cornwall, where two of his former students, one from Virginia and another from Connecticut, drove up to meet him and stayed with him the entire time.

That’s the effect he’s had on his students.

In fact, some of these “kids” got together back in 2011, and petitioned the president of the Meteorological Society of America and Chief of the US Weather Bureau to recognize him for his work. And so that year he was “The Special Award” winner from the AMS for innovative leadership in teaching meteorology.

Belding “Pete” Clearwater, 98, (right) whose family has owned and operated the historic Jones Farm in Cornwall for generations. (Photo credit: Buzz Potential)

What else? He’s still studying, learning how to better predict storms closer to the event and teach others as well. And just last month, he sent the 2025 calendar to the printer. In fact, his forecasts are done through 2030, and he’s hoping to add another year or two after that, just in case, he says laughing.

“I’m very pleased with what I’ve done,” Witt said. “I look in the mirror and say to myself, ‘I didn’t waste my time on earth. I’ve been able to help kids’. “

Jim Witt also had an educational website where you can find long range weather forecasts for cities across the USA and internationally, as well as lesson plans for teachers. Visit

And for more information about The Hope for Youth Foundation and a list of places where the 2024 calendars can be purchased, visit Calendars are $10 at participating retailers and $16 if purchased online, which includes postage.

Wendy DeGiglio covered Westchester County and mostly Peekskill where she lived for nearly 20 years. She wrote ‘good news’ feature stories and was called the ‘warm-hearted’ reporter by former mayor Frances Gibbs. 

Editor’s Note:  This story was updated at 4:45 to reflect the correct town photographer Giulian Sista immigrated from in Italy.