WFLA chief meteorologist Steve Jerve is the calm before, during and after the storm. The weatherman’s even temper and smooth delivery have made him a reassuring fixture on Bay area television for 16 years.
Before arriving at News Channel 8, Jerve worked as a reporter and weekend news anchor in his home state of Minnesota before going on to forecast weather in Jackson, Miss., Orlando and St. Louis, Mo., where he won an Emmy in 1996 for Weathercasting in the Mid-America Region.
In Orlando he made a name for himself by broadcasting the weather from residents' backyards. The segment, aptly dubbed “Backyard Weather,” is how Jerve discovered some of Florida’s best-hidden jewels, including his favorite picnic spot, Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.
Jerve played college basketball at the University of Minnesota at Morris, which suited his 6-foot-6 frame. (Seriously, this guy is huge.) At 54, he still maintains the energetic presence of an athlete and the youthful zeal of a fresh-out-of-school broadcast meteorologist.
A jet setter and diehard motorcyclist (he spent his 40th birthday riding through New Zealand), the South Tampa resident is also a history nerd (his favorite local hangouts are steeped in lore) and a science buff who regularly breaks down arcane meteorological data into useful information for the everyman.
You can watch Jerve forecast the future in seven-day increments every weeknight at 5, 6, and 11 p.m. on WFLA-News Channel 8 in Tampa.
Best place to go unnoticed: Anywhere but here.
“I hop on a plane and go to another city. The truth is it’s tough. I’m that really tall guy with blonde hair no matter where I go. I’d have to walk around on my knees to not get noticed.”
Best way to spend the weekend: Riding his Yamaha FZ1 on Florida’s back roads.
“I go to Citrus and Hernando County, Dade City … it’s very hilly and un-Florida like up there. There are so many two-lane roads. It’s like flying. It’s just a blast.”
Best open road in Tampa Bay: Bellamy Brothers Boulevard in Pasco County
. “It’s winding and rural with a lot of oak trees. I think it’s named after the guys who had that hit song ‘Let Your Love Flow.’”
Best place to go out for drinks with broadcasters: Four Green Fields in Tampa
. “It’s an authentic Irish pub. They actually bring a guy in from Ireland to thatch the roof. It’s a great place to go with co-workers. We’ve had a lot of going-away parties there. I order the Black & Tan if I’m not working or driving.”
Best place to ride out a storm: Tampa Theatre
. “If the weather is really bad, I’m at the station. I have a duty to be here and I want to be here, but … if it’s your basic summer rainstorm, I’d say the beautiful air-conditioned Tampa Theatre for its Summer Classics movie series. The place is awesome.”
Best place to shop for art: Hyde Park Village Art Fair
. “There’s mainstream stuff and unusual stuff. I really like discovering local art by happenstance, whether I’m browsing a crowded art show or walking by a storefront.”
Best restaurant to take your family from Minnesota: Columbia Restaurant in Ybor
. “You get the café con Leche and fresh bread, then you sit at a bar that’s over 100 years old and feel like you’re in another world.”
Best place to go off the grid: Egmont Key
. “It’s fascinating out there. Did you know there’s a ranger who lives on the key in a little house? He guides the pilots into the port. Who knew?”
Best sunset in Tampa Bay: The northern tip of Anna Maria Island
. “It’s right where the sand comes to a point. There are no buildings. It looks like you’re in the Caribbean. There’s a great little restaurant at the end of the Anna Maria Island City Pier [City Pier Restaurant] where you can eat afte
Best place for a picnic: Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales
. “It’s a gem of a place. It’s not a theme park. There are no rides. It’s just this peaceful place with a huge garden and a tower with carillon bells. I know it’s going to sound crazy but there are views there. It’s one of the highest points in Florida.”
Best place to play 18 holes: Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando
. “It’s one of the best courses I’ve played. It’s meticulously maintained. There are rolling hills, a lot of water, a lot of challenging holes. It’s a pretty place to spend the day.”
Best place to get schooled on Tampa’s past: Tampa Bay History Center
. “I love knowing the stories behind the places I go. The Spanish landed here in the 1500s. Think about that. It’s fascinating! There’s also a Columbia restaurant there with a really nice outdoor patio overlooking Harbour Island.”
Best little-known Italian restaurant: Caffé Paradiso
. “It’s very nondescript, in a strip mall off MacDill [Avenue]. I’ve had food in Italy and I’d say it’s pretty authentic.”
Best taste of Thailand: Jasmine Thai & Sushi
. “It’s as good as I’ve had in Thailand.”
Best country cookin’: Maw's Vittles in Brooksville
. “If I’m out on my bike and I see some place different, I’ll get off and step inside. The next thing you know you’re having great inexpensive pancakes at a place called Maw’s Vittles.”
Best quintessential Florida dining: Woody's Waterfront Café on Blind Pass
. “It used to be a fishing shack. Now it’s this little beach joint with plastic tables and chairs and great mahi. I don’t need anything fancy. Woody’s is as good as it gets. You sit out on the water with a fish dinner as people in boats go by and wave.”