I always enjoy hearing from our viewers, listeners, and readers. Thanks to social media, broadcasting has become a two way conversation, and I do my best to give you easy access for weather questions, pictures you want to share, severe weather reports, and weather program requests.
Want to get in touch with me? Here ya go…
For weather program request for a school, or speaking request for a church or civic club, email is the best way.
EMAIL: I have a countless number of email addresses, but my “hub” is the GMail account…
Want to email the WeatherBrains crew (our weekly podcast about weather)? Use firstname.lastname@example.org
SOCIAL MEDIA: I dabble in this pretty heavily; here is what to expect if you “follow” me…
TWITTER: I am @spann. My twitter feed is special, not because of me, but because of the information my followers bring to the table. I have over 165,000 followers, and they share a rather eclectic array of information that I retweet. Following the @spann account is basically like subscribing to a newswire; if there is something big happening around here (Alabama), you will know about it first. Whether it is weather related, a big wreck shutting down a highway, a fire, explosion, “boom”, meteor, you will be in the loop.
It is also a place to find some remarkable photography. Sunrises and sunsets flow, along with a hodgepodge of sky scenes. And, of course, it is also about all things weather. Not just in Alabama, but nationally and globally. I am pretty quick to respond to questions, and since I don’t sleep much, the account is very active.
FACEBOOK: This platform is extremely frustrating since much of the content is filtered. Organic reach has dwindled to less than 10 percent, meaning of the 190,000 that follow me, only about 15,000 see most posts in their newsfeed. Find me here: http://www.facebook.com/jamesspann… and be sure and choose to receive notifications; that will increase your odds of seeing my content on a more regular basis. I respond to Facebook messages, and the page is open for you to post pictures or other content. You will find great weather information here, along with some really good pictures.
GOOGLE PLUS: Some call this platform “Facebook without the drama”… I find great engagement, and there is little filtering. The Google Plus feed here http://www.google.com/+JamesSpann is close to being a mirror of my Facebook feed, but occasionally I will post unique content.
INSTAGRAM: This is where I post the “best of the best” of the pictures sent to me via social media. It is a stunning collection of weather related photos… http://www.instagram.com/spannpix
With all of the time dedicated to social media and responding to email, I should mention you don’t need to call me; I have not answered my phone at work since 1998. I don’t know my number, don’t know how to get voice mail, and don’t even know where the phone is located. I have just “opted out”… I can’t talk on the phone at the station since I work in a studio, and when I have the time to call people back, it is close to midnight, and most folks just don’t appreciate calls that late!
An upper level disturbance to the west of Alabama has spread a nice layer of cirrostratus clouds across the northern third of the state this afternoon. It has resulted in some beautiful sun dogs, an optical phenomenon caused by the refracting of sunlight through ice crystals.
Here is an example I captured on I-20 near Talladega:
You can actually see both sides!
You can actually see a band of cirrocumulus over northern Mississippi extending into the Tennessee Valley caused by forcing ahead of the disturbance.
Temperatures are in the 50s. We will drop to near 40 overnight with mostly cloudy skies. Skies will become partly cloudy on Monday with highs in the 50s. Colder air will spread in behind the disturbance on Tuesday leading to below freezing overnight readings and highs in the 40s in spots Wednesday and Thursday. No rain expected next seven days.
-Credit Mark Bradley AJC http://markbradley.blog.ajc.com/2014/01/29/snowjam-2014-atlanta-at-its-absolute-worst/
Sorry for the late notice, but finding a venue for our last full chapter meeting was difficult this time. However, we have an outstanding speaker lined up for the meeting this coming Monday, November 17th at 7 p.m. at the Medical Forum Building at the Civic Center downtown.
Keith Stellman is the Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in Atlanta. He is responsible for forecasts and warnings for 96 counties in the northern part of Georgia. He will be speaking on a subject that is near and dear to our hearts: the January 28th winter storm in the Southeast U.S.
Like Birmingham, Atlanta has rarely been exposed to the unique and devastating combination of dramatically below freezing temperatures at onset of frozen precipitation on a weekday. Like here, a humanitarian crisis ensued with tens of thousands of commuters stranded on area highways.
Keith will focus on the meteorological factors that made this event so significant, the forecasts and warnings and lessons learned from them as well as the human and government response.
The meeting will be held in Meeting Room F in the Forum Building at 950 22nd Street North. This is the building to the east of the Sheraton and has an entrance at ground level on 22nd Street. You can also access it from the 3rd level of the parking deck.
You can park in the 22nd street deck and we will have parking validation. Or you can park on the street around the complex.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting and presentation will start at 7 p.m.
The meeting is free to members of the Central Alabama Chapter of the National Weather Association. Visitors may attend for $10. You can join the chapter at:
The Chapter Holiday Party will be announced at the meeting.
This meting is being sponsored by the Westin and BJCC. Thanks to them for their support.
I have been doing weather on television since the summer of 1978… and over these 36 years I can clearly say the level of outrageous hyperbole in the weather business has never been this extreme. It is coming from many sources, and there are days when it seems like it overpowers logic and conventional forecasts.
On some days, I will spend one to two hours answering questions from people who want to know if “what they saw on Facebook” is true (and I assure you, I don’t have one to two hours to do this). Friday’s idiotic post of the day was from none other than CBS News…
Seems like the national media has gone loco when it comes to weather. This is what you are going to hear all season long, apparently (graphic from Mike Rawlins)…
Yep, every weather system this season it seems will be a “polar vortex monster storm with millions in the path that is unprecedented and struck without warning”.
Add to the mix people posting medium range (7 to 15 day) computer model voodoo snow forecasts, and the confusion gets out of hand. On almost any cold season day, I can find at least one global model that paints a North Alabama snow in the 7 to 15 day time frame. And, of course, there is no skill in a specific forecast at that range, and they hardly ever happen. Just like the medium range voodoo model hurricane forecasts in summer that are bogus.
When it comes to snow hysteria, and I have written before part of this is OUR problem after the botched January 28 snow forecast earlier this year. I don’t blame people for not trusting us; they will run to the most terrifying forecast that can find and believe it since we have to rebuild our credibility. And, they share that outrageous forecast like wildfire on Facebook.
We call this “clickbait”… people are looking for likes and clicks, and a wild good snow/winter storm forecast is a way to get them, whether the forecast is true or not. Truth doesn’t matter in this game… it is all about the battle for your eyeballs.
I ask that you think before you share any weather content on social media.
WHAT YOU GET FROM US: When I say “us”… I mean the meteorologists at ABC 33/40 and The Weather Factory. You will get a forecast product that is accurate as the science allows. I have been going the “Weather Xtreme video” for over 12 years now… a twice daily video that clearly explains WHY we are forecasting what you read and see. Open for the world to see, and easy to use. We have spent many long hours writing these blog discussions and forecasts… we will be wrong from time to time, but we stand by our verification history, which is very strong.
WHAT YOU WON’T GET FROM US: Forecasts of “polar vortex monster storms with millions in the path that is unprecedented and struck without warning”. Wild medium range voodoo snow forecasts. Clickbait.
Maybe I am fighting a losing battle, and the clickbait guys will win. But, as long as I am here expect the same content, level of service, and professional weather products without the hype. Thanks for being part of our “blog family”… I sincerely appreciate it, and your interest in real weather products that, while never perfect, is done with much care and sound science.
A friendly reminder that Daylight Saving Time ends tonight. We fall back on Standard Time at 2AM in the morning. Don’t forget to set your clocks back before heading to bed, and gain that extra hour of sleep tonight.
With the time changing, that means more sun in the mornings, while evenings will be dark. It will be getting dark closer to 5PM as the amount of daylight hours continues to get shorter until we reach the Winter Solstice just before Christmas.
We will stay on Standard Time until March 8th, 2015.
No, I am not talking about a “long winter” due to excessive cold/snow/ice, etc… but due to the extra work that will be required of us putting down bad information that is spread around on social media. It has already started, and it isn’t even November.
PARTIALLY OUR FAULT: Let me say up front that the problem is partially ours. The weather community, as you well know, missed the forecast on January 28, when a “dusting” turned into two inches, and “no major travel issues” turned into a traffic nightmare.
I don’t blame people for not trusting winter forecasts for a while; it will take time to earn that trust. Who cares what James Spann or the National Weather Service says? They were wrong last year, so rogue posts on Facebook are in fair play. I understand the temptation to share wild “worst case” winter forecasts. But, the point of this post is asking you NOT to do that for reasons I will explain.
YESTERDAY: I was about to leave for live weather on ABC 33/40 from Disney on Ice at the BJCC yesterday afternoon, when social media was lightning up about “James Spann forecasting a big snow for Alabama”. After some quick investigation, turns out this was floating around Facebook, and spreading like wildfire…
This, of course, was a forecast from a snow event we had back in February, and has absolutely nothing to do with current weather.
I honestly don’t know who started it; one person reported Facebook was pushing it into people’s newsfeed as a “related story” after a current post from me. Seems like folks just couldn’t resist the share button, and I spent considerable time setting the record straight.
AND… to make matters worse, another blog posted some rogue computer model run yesterday morning that suggested snow could fall over parts of Northeast Alabama as the weekend begins. This somehow came back later in the day to me as “James Spann is forecasting a snow storm this weekend in Alabama”.
This is another topic for another day, to be discussed within the weather enterprise, but after the January 28 snow “bust”, you won’t see any outliers like that posted from me on social media. Generally speaking, when I show model data that seems like it won’t verify, it is on my daily Weather Xtreme video, which has been produced for over 10 years twice daily, and long time viewers understand that product goes deep into the weather forecast explanation and how to use the products I show. You can watch it anytime here, and it doesn’t take very long.
MY PLEA: Simply think before sharing extreme weather forecasts you see on social media. Many “click bait” forecasts are produced by people that have no weather training, and honestly could care less what happens. They just want the clicks, which they turn into revenue. Our team spends long, hard hours producing content for this blog; you can basically see our heart and soul here with the discussions and video products. If you see some extreme snow/ice forecast, I just ask you check the blog before sending it on to your friends.
Yep, we have been wrong before, and we will be wrong again. Our skill in handling winter weather events is not as high as severe weather forecasting, but you might be surprised at the winter weather accuracy. People will always remember the bad ones, however, which is just human nature.
Let’s all take a deep breath and get through the winter weather season with good, solid information. Think before you hit that “share button”…
The sun will look like this in the western sky late this afternoon…
Partial eclipses occur when the moon blocks part of the sun from view. This one begins around 5pm CT. Maximum eclipse comes at 5:57p CT as the sun is setting on the horizon. The sky should be clear.
Remember, never look at the sun with the naked eye… see this from NASA on ways of viewing this event…
The Internet is a great equalizer. Website and blogging platforms have given everyone a voice. Social media is a powerful megaphone that is accessible to anyone. But the explosion of information on the web has become a double edged sword. One recent example is the Boston Marathon bombing. Photos released on the Internet within hours of the bombing wrongly implicated innocent people and made the job of finding the real perpetrators difficult for investigators.
In no area has this double edged sword reared its ugly side more than in the dissemination of weather information. The general public now has access in real time to nearly every piece of weather information available to professional meteorologists. It has become readily apparent that the other side of the sword can be detrimental when weather information is shared irresponsibly. One of the most common forms this takes is when a single model solution is represented as an absolute forecast and shared and re-shared as such. With many different models and resolutions, you can find a solution for any solution you can imagine. When those model solutions are extreme, the social media universe can quickly catch fire with the information.
The result is that National Weather Service meteorologists and broadcasters find themselves increasingly spending their time to combat misleading or incorrectly interpreted or labeled information.
The National Weather Association, the leading organization for operational meteorologists, recognized the need o provide leadership in this area. Miles Muzio, the Chair of the Broadcast Meteorology Committee has championed the cause of a Seal of Approval for Digital Weathercasters.
The organization has a rich history of producing nearly one thousand Broadcaster Seals for TV Weathercasters. The NWA Broadcaster Seal of Approval is a trusted indicator of that the sealholder has passed a rigorous comprehensive examination and had his or her on air work evaluated by a group of experienced meteorologists.
The NWA approached the idea of a sister seal to the Broadcast Seal very deliberately, debating the merits, procedures, guidelines and ongoing monitoring of introducing such a program. All of the information received intense scrutiny from the National Weather Association Council.
This morning, at the 39th Annual Meeting of the National Weather Association, the Digital Seal program was laid out.
I am very thrilled and honored to be the holder of the very first National Weather Association Digital Weather Seal.
I am part of the “Pioneer 3″ as Miles calls the first three recipients, joining the heady company of Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang and Mike Mogil of How the WeatherWorks. We all three passed the same rigorous exam that Broadcast Seal recipients must pass and had our work evaluated according to the Qualifications and Procedures developed by the Broadcast Meteorology Committee. The comprehensive test includes general meteorology, radar meteorology, satellite meteorology, synoptic meteorology, severe weather, climatology and technology/terminology.
We all will be re-certified every three years and our work will be constantly monitored to make sure that it upholds the values of this important distinction.
I will proudly serve as the Digital Seal Manager.
It was a an incredible moment for me this morning. I look forward to proudly displaying the NWA Digital Seal on Alabama WX. Thank you for the opportunity to share weather information with you, the greatest weather savvy audience on the planet, on a regular basis!
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