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Category: Hodgepodge

Science Fair Winners!

| 10:46 am March 14, 2014
Caroline Borden and Jaylan Jacobs, Winners of the NWA Science Fair Award

Caroline Borden and Jaylan Jacobs, Winners of the NWA Science Fair Award

On Saturday, March 1st, National Weather Association Central Alabama Chapter President Bill Murray and Past President Kevin Laws from the National Weather Service judged projects in the Central Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair at UAB.

They were pleased to present the Chapter’s First Award for Excellence in Atmospheric Science to:

Miss Caroline Borden
Miss Jaylan Jacobs

Of Indian Springs School

For their project:

Dissolution of Shells in an Acidifying Ocean.

In addition to the certificate, each of the students receive a check for $100 and are invited to be recognized at the Chapter meeting this coming Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Homewood Suites in Riverchase.

The Central Alabama Chapter of the National Weather Association is dedicated to the promoting the important place of weather in every aspect of our lives. The Chapter brings together operational forecasters, broadcasters, government meteorologists, academicians, emergency managers and weather enthusiasts to network and learn about operational meteorology.

The goal of the Central Alabama Chapter is to make everyone a Weather Ambassador.

don’t forget to mark your calendars for the first Chapter meeting of 2014, which is this Monday night, March 17th at 7PM.

The meeting will be held at the Homewood Suites in Riverchase. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the meeting starts at 7PM. Come learn about some of the newest radar technology that is being used from Kevin Laws from the NWS and Bob Dreisewerd from Baron Services.

Anyone can join the Chapter for $25 which guarantees admission to all Chapter events this upcoming year.. Guest are also encourage to attend the meeting, but will have to pay the guest fee of $15. Join or pay your dues on the Chapter website.

Some Extreme Weather

| 9:08 am January 12, 2014

Warmest in the Lower 48 States yesterday was 86F at Orlando, FL.

Coldest yesterday was -4F at Alamosa, CO. Only -1F this morning.

Warmest in the world (based on METAR observations only) was 104F at Paraburdoo, Australia.

Coldest in the world -47F was at Norman Wells, NT, Canada.

Highest wind gust was 88 kt at Mount Washington, NH (I’ve been there).


The Waiting Game

| 2:33 pm January 5, 2014

As we wait on the Arctic front and air mass to make its way into Alabama, I believe we are not the only ones taking precautions and preparing for the Arctic blast.

First a quick update on the front’s location. Looking for the temperature gradient, it appears the front is crossing the Mississippi River now. Temperatures are rapidly falling behind the front and any rain is quickly switching over to snow. That is what we still expect in Alabama later this evening. Along with the switch over to snow, the winds are howling at 15-25 mph with gust well over 30 mph. The wind chills will become a factor overnight.

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Now back to Mother Nature. A few interesting observations of nature from today. I believe just like us, nature is preparing for the bitterly cold Arctic air.

I have seen an increase in the amount of squirrels on the ground today.

Also, a major difference I have noticed today is the amount of birds on the ground. At one point I looked out the window and there were all different types of birds foraging together for something to eat. It is like they know what is coming.

There is also an abundance of crow activity, with constant crow callings and numerous crows on the ground.

It could be nothing, but I believe they know what is coming as well. It is interesting nonetheless and could likely be something to write about as weather folklore.

I would love to hear back from you if you have noticed anything interesting in nature today.

Storm Alert Xtreme 2013

| 7:02 am November 24, 2013

Thanks to all for attending Storm Alert 2013 yesterday at the BJCC… another huge crowd. Special thanks to Brian Peters for putting it together, and to the Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association for their partnership.

If you missed it, John Brown was there to capture it via Google Hangouts. The morning and afternoon session are in separate segments.

Storm Spotter Training Is Tomorrow!

| 7:05 am November 22, 2013

Our annual storm spotter training called Storm Alert Xtreme is tomorrow at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center… and we are delighted to partner again this year with the Alabama International Auto Show

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We will begin at 9:00; you might to come a bit early to get a seat. We have had over 500 people in attendance the last two years.

Brian Peters will be the primary trainer again this year. I will speak, and we will also have a meteorologist from the NWS in Birmingham with us again this year.

By your attendance, you automatically become an “ABC 33/40 Skywatcher” and will have access to our chat session, that runs 24/7.

WHY? We have a great need of more trained weather spotters in Alabama. Radar is great, but we need more trained eyes looking at storms. The more trained spotters we have, the better the warning process. The need for trained spotters is especially high in rural areas.

I HAVE BEEN TRAINED BEFORE. DO I NEED TO COME? YES. We advise that all of our Skywatchers be trained every year. We learn new things over a 12 month period, and love to share the knowledge.

COST: The training is absolutely free.

REGISTER? No need to register, you just show up. We want to make it easy.

HOW LONG? We have a morning session, followed by a lunch break, then an afternoon session. We are usually wrapped by 2:00. And, the cool thing is that you get free admission to the Alabama International Auto Show when we are done.

WHERE? Look for the signs around the BJCC… we are in the level right above the car show; same place that we have been in recent years. Come in the entrance to the EAST Exhibition Hall.

AGE LIMIT? No. I would say any child over 10 would enjoy it and be able to learn. For older kids with a phobia of weather and severe storms, this actually might help them. Knowledge is very powerful.

WHAT DO I BRING? You might want to bring a tablet, smart phone, or something for note taking. Otherwise, just bring yourself and be ready to learn.

Spread the word and plan on being there. See you tomorrow!

Super Typhoon Haiyan & Hurricane Katrina

| 4:30 pm November 14, 2013

An interesting image created by our friends at the Cooperate Institute of Meteorological Satellite Studies in Madison, Wisconsin. The have superimposed Super Typhoon Haiyan into the Gulf of Mexico at the same location as Hurricane Katrina. Haiyan is on the left and Katrina is on the right.

A neat comparison of the two showing their similarities and differences. In the image, Katrina appears to be the better organized system with a very large eye, while Haiyan appears to be more compact with the smaller eye. Both systems are at a category 5 intensity right before landfall. Luckily for the Gulf Coast Katrina weakened before moving onshore. Not such great news for the Philippines as Haiyan maintained intensity at landfall. Both systems were responsible for widespread destruction and great loss of life.

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Hey Verne….

| 8:11 am November 10, 2013

Most of you know I work weather support for many college football games in Alabama, and I was, as usual, as Bryant Denny Stadium last night watching the radar and providing updates. So, I don’t watch the games on TV, but many called to my attention the fact that CBS announcer Verne Lundquist was trashing weather people. This was from Mike Smith’s blog, a world class meteorologist who was watching the game from Kansas…

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Sounds like Verne was using one of the 10.7 million “crap apps” people have on their phone, that spits out automated weather forecasts based on computer model output only. Or, maybe he pulled up “” or some site like that. I don’t know where he got “20 percent”… I don’t even use percentages in most of my weather products because they are so confusing.

Verne, you need the James Spann app, which is powered by human meteorologists that understand the people, culture, and geography of Alabama. We don’t have to look at a map to find Andalusia, Eastaboga, Wedowee, Nanafalia, or Benevola.

I got up early yesterday, and it was clear through surface and upper air data, and radar and satellite trends, that we needed to mention a chance of light rain or sprinkles during the game. I wrote this long blog post at 9:35 to let the world now.

All of our blog posts are in the new James Spann app, so those with the app got the word.

I pushed it out those that follow me on social media at the same time… over 107,000 on Twitter, and over 113,000 followers on my Facebook account. Google Plus too, with over 10,000. Updates like this were sent through the day…

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I even sent this text message over to Eli Gold and Tom Stipe in the Alabama broadcast booth so they would know…

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Bottom line is that those connected with me should have known there was going to be light rain or sprinkles at the game, which happened. And, as expected, the light rain in Tuscaloosa was not enough to measure; only a trace was reported…


So, Verne, next time you come to Tuscaloosa, please don’t pull out the crap app, just download James Spann 24/7 here. No, I can’t promise I will be right every time, but I will beat the automated apps 95 percent of the time. Or, better yet, just come over to my post at the stadium and I will be glad to give you a personal briefing. Will be looking for you next time, so you won’t be giving out bad information, at least about weather. I can help.

Daylight Saving Time Ends Tonight

| 8:00 pm November 2, 2013

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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 9th, 2014.