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Sam Champion‘s departure from “Good Morning America” for the Weather Channel was announced yesterday, and Champion got to say his first round of goodbyes on the morning talk show on Dec. 3.

“This will always be my home,” Champion tells his fellow “GMA” hosts in an emotional segment. “I’ve had the extreme joy that I don’t think many people will ever know of working with your friends and family.”

Champion defends his decision by explaining that the Weather Channel is the “holy grail” of his industry, so he couldn’t resist the chance to take a job there. “To be able to do something, the very best in weather … I had to try that,” he says.

But just because he’ll be gone doesn’t mean his loves at “GMA” will be forgotten. He promises that he’ll be watching them in the mornings when he’ reporting the news as managing editor on the Weather Channel.

“I love you guys more than I can express,” he says.

“GMA” will have a sendoff to Champion on Dec. 4. When he goes to Weather Channel, he will take over as anchor on a new flagship morning show, set to debut in early 2014.

Posted by:Terri Schwartz