Champion will fill in for ABC News' Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee the week of Jan. 11, during part of Zee's maternity leave, it was announced today. Zee, 34, gave birth last month to her first child, a son named Adrian Benjamin.
Zee, who joined "GMA" live by phone this morning with baby Adrian, wished Champion well and gave him a "to-do" list.
"He has to take full credit for the dip in the jet stream, all the cold air coming in right now," she joked. "Second, I have a tally of Lara's puns [in 'Pop News'], so if you can just keep that going. And finally, just take care of the audience because I am going to miss them probably just as much as anyone else."
Champion said he missed waking up in the morning for "GMA" and having Robin Roberts hand him a fresh cup of coffee. He is especially excited to see the Times Square audience –- even in January's cold temperatures.
"[The audience] is the most fun part of the entire show, to get outside and spend some time with the people who come to see us," Champion said today by phone. "I think I have to buy a winter coat."
ABC News' Senior Meteorologist Rob Marciano will also fill in while Zee is out on maternity leave.
Champion, 54, passed the torch to Zee during his last “GMA” broadcast on Dec. 4, 2013 by giving her a pair of rain boots -- a necessity for meteorologists, according to Champion.
The 25-year ABC veteran said goodbye to viewers during that broadcast with his familiar catchphrase: "That's the weather around the nation, ladies and gentleman." The longtime meteorologist later moved on to a role at “The Weather Channel."
When Champion returns to "GMA" he will be reunited with “GMA” family members Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer, as well as Amy Robach, who was named “GMA” news anchor after Champion’s departure.
Champion most recently appeared on "GMA" in November during the show's 40th reunion celebration that brought co-anchors, news anchors, meteorologists and contributors from the past 40 years of “GMA” together in Times Square.
During that show, Champion was presented with an award for one of the show's funniest moments in its history, the moment Stephanopolous mistakenly introduced Champion's weather segment by saying, "Look at this shrimp on a treadmill..."
"I’d like to thank you, George,” Champion said when accepting his trophy on the 40th anniversary show.