Jack Elrod: Friend to the National Weather Service

Date Posted: February 4, 2016
Heather Wade, Coastal Planning Specialist
Jack Elrod, writer of the “Mark Trail” comic strip, recently passed away at the age of 91. Through his comic strip, he promoted the use of NOAA Weather Radio and was a partner – and a friend –of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

At its height, Mark Trail was syndicated by King Features with a reach of 175 newspapers and a readership of over 23 million people. Every Sunday, readers turned to the comic to pick up weather safety tips, learn about the environment, and discover how to help protect endangered species.

Elrod used his work to educate the public about staying safe during severe weather. Through the artistry of the Mark Trail strip, Elrod explained complicated weather phenomenon in terms that the general public could understand.

In 1997, Mark Trail became the spokesperson for NOAA Weather Radio. This was a partnership that brought Jack Elrod, King Features, and NOAA together to promote weather safety for the American public.

The Mark Trail awards, also initiated in 1997 were held annually on Capitol Hill for 11 years until 2007. The awards were created to acknowledge contributions to the NOAA Weather Radio program for noteworthy gifts, community actions, and responses to a NOAA Weather Radio warning that exemplified its lifesaving benefits.

Heather Wade, Coastal Planning Specialist
Elrod had the difficult task of presenting scientific information accurately while also telling a story. A key part of his work was research. Elrod visited NOAA facilities to gain a better understand the work of meteorologists and other scientists.

He will also be remembered for his kindness, particularly toward educators. Elrod graciously gave his time to be part of the NOAA Education Exhibit at the National Science Teachers Association annual meetings, where he signed Mark Trail comics for teachers. While the line would often be long, he greeted each educator with a warm, welcoming smile.

Elrod will be missed but never forgotten.

For More Information

Mark Trail and NOAA: The Comic Strips

NOAA Weather Radio