Lightning struck the local TV weathercasting business on Friday afternoon.

Mark Eubank, meteorologist with KUTV, Channel 2, for the past 22 years, has signed a contract with rival station KSL-TV, Channel 5, effective Jan. 1, 1991.Although he won't be appearing as an on-air KSL personality for 18 months, Eubank will still be busy. He'll complete the final six months of his current KUTV contract, then spend the next year moving his privately owned WeatherBank Inc. from the KUTV complex in West Valley City into KSL's Broadcast House in the downtown Triad Center.

According to the terms of his KUTV contract, Eubank is prohibited from providing any services for KSL for one year after his Channel 2 contract expires.

The staff at KUTV was informed about the change when memos were tacked to bulletin boards at the Channel 2 studios.

Eubank said, "I've had a terrific experience at KUTV, working with good friends and real professionals. I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that the move to Channel 5 will present."

What's the forecast for Bob Welti's position at Channel 5?

The longtime KSL weatherman was surprised but "delighted" by the announcement.

He was contacted at his daughter's home in Cambridge, Mass., where he had just arrived barely 10 minutes before for a vacation.

"I'm delighted," said Welti, who said he had just been notified of Eubank's new contract. "I've known Mark personally as a friend for many years, and even though we've been competitors, we've also palled around at many weathercaster/meteorologist conventions.

"He'll bring a tremendous amount of strength to KSL," Welti said.

Welti noted that by the time Eubank arrives, "I will probably have already retired or be awfully close to it, so the change doesn't affect me at all, that I can see."

Welti's colleague at Channel 5, Len Randolph _ who has long been considered the heir apparent to Welti's weathercasting job at KSL _ said he anticipates no major changes.

"Everything will remain as it is, as far as I know. Mark and his staff will be integrated into the KSL news organization, and a decision will be made later by the management about his on-air status."

Jeffrey B. Hatch, president and general manager of KUTV, told the Deseret News that "we've had a good relationship with Eubank and he's been a fine employee."

Hatch said Eubank's two on-air colleagues _ Steve Root and Barry Nielsen _ are part of the WeatherBank Inc. team but also have separate contracts with Channel 2 for their weathercasting services.

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"Shortly we'll be starting a national search for a new weathercaster," said Hatch, who noted that the Salt Lake market ranks 40th in size nationally.

Hatch said Eubank and WeatherBank Inc. "have been valuable players in providing high-quality weather information to our viewers. While we will miss Mark at KUTV, we are pleased that he can fulfill his desires to build his extensive weather business beyond television broadcasting."

Spence Kinard, vice president for news and public affairs at KSL-TV, added, "Mark Eubank brings a national reputation as a meteorologist to the News Specialists. We're pleased he's joining us."