On the day before his final appearance on ' Good Morning America," weather anchor Sam Champion called ABC "my heart and my home" but said his new opportunity at the Weather Channel was too "amazing" to pass up.
"This will always be home, but to run to a place that is changing the way we do weather forecasts, and to be around complete weather geeks like me, it's an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Champion, 52, said today on "GMA."
Champion confirmed that, in addition to his role as the channel's managing editor, he will begin hosting a morning show on the Weather Channel after the first of the year.
"Every day my show will be on and I'll have you guys right down there, watching as I talk about the weather," Champion told his fellow "GMA" anchors. "I'll be watching. I love you guys more than I can express."
Champion began his career with WABC-TV in New York in 1988 and joined the "GMA" team in 2006.
Since then, he has broadcast more than 7,000 weather forecasts, and has traveled to nearly every major weather event, nationally. His reporting on Superstorm Sandy in 2012 contributed to ABC's Peabody Award for coverage of that historic storm.
"I grew up here. I know every face in the hall, in the building and this will always be my home," Champion said. "I've had the extreme joy that I don't think very many people know of working with your friends and your family and what happens on this set is incredibly real and natural every morning."
"It's what happens here before the show that makes the show," he said.
Champion will join colleagues including Jim Cantore and Al Roker at the Weather Channel, a factor he said played a major role in his decision to leave ABC News.
"The Weather Channel is like the holy grail of weather," Champion said. "What they're doing right now is changing the way that we'll all get our weather."
Champion's last day on 'GMA' will be Wednesday, Dec. 4, and his co-anchors promised that they will send him off with a fitting tribute.
"Just so everybody knows, today is not it," said Josh Elliott. "We are getting extra special ready for you…It will be a day of Sam."
"What is Sam known for? That gorgeous laugh, and tomorrow you'll see some highlights," added Lara Spencer. "He's made us laugh. We might cry. You might cry tomorrow because we're going to have a little stroll down memory lane for you."
"GMA" weekend meteorologist Ginger Zee will take over weather reporting responsibilities for ABC News and "GMA."