Prater was raised in Prattville and attended Troy State University, Auburn University and Mississippi State University on his way to earning degrees in broadcasting and meteorology. He got his start in broadcasting at Troy's TSU-TV in 1989.
He worked as a television reporter at WTVY in Dothan and at WSFA-TV in Montgomery from 1992 to 1994 before moving to WBRC-TV in 1994. Part of his experience was reporting on United Nations food aid in war-torn Sarajevo and Split, Croatia.
In 1996 he left WBRC to become part of the original news staff at WBMA-TV (ABC 33/40) at its launch on September 1. He did weather segments for "Good Morning Alabama" and for the News at Noon, both of which he later co-anchored with Keisa Sharpe.
Prater was named Alabama's Best Weather Caster by the Associated Press in 1999. His coverage of a tornado in downtown Tuscaloosa in 2000 won him a regional Emmy and a national Edward R. Murrow award. He left 33/40 in 2004.
In March 2002 Prater was diagnosed with Type II Hepatitis C. He disclosed the diagnosis to the public and began chemotherapy treatment the next fall. 2005 he co-authored a book, Silent Storm about his successful physical and spiritual battle against Hepatitis. Former co-anchor C. L. Carden collaborated on the writing.
Prater has worked for WNCF-TV in Montgomery and WPGA-TV in Macon, Georgia. He was Chief and Managing Meteorologist for KLJB-TV and the Independent News Network in Davenport, Iowa. until 2008. That Summer he returned to Birmingham to replace David Sawyer as WIAT's chief meteorologist. In 2010, Prater was named "Weather Anchor Of The Year" by the Alabama Broadcasters Association at their "ABBY" award banquet. In April 2013 Prater moved to the morning newscast and was replaced by Gene Norman on the evening news. Prater left the station in April 2018.
Prater is married to the former Carol Willis of Prattville and has four children; Madison, Cole, Trinity and Fowler. They are members of the Church at Brook Hills. In December 2018 Prater was arrested for susp and charged with 2nd degree felony domestic violence. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of non-domestic violence harassing communications and was given a suspended sentence and $200 fine.
- Prater, Mark with C. L. Carden (2005) Silent Storm: Finding Spritual Shelter. Birmingham: New Hope Publishers. ISBN 1563099004
- Stroud, Laurie (February 2003) "Mark Prater: Forecasting a Bright Future." Birmingham Christian Family
- Gray, Jeremy (April 12, 2018) "Mark Prater, CBS 42 chief meteorologist, no longer with station." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 6, 2018) "Former television meteorologist jailed on felony domestic violence charge." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (August 29, 2019) "Former Birmingham meteorologist Mark Prater pleads guilty to misdemeanor." The Birmingham News
- Mark Prater page at cbs42.com