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Category: Hodgepodge

More Good News from our Friends at the Alabama NewsCenter

| 4:48 pm September 4, 2015

Here are some of our favorite stories from our friends at Alabama NewsCenter from this past week, August 28-September 3, 2015.

Alabama, Auburn, other state college football teams ready to kick off season – A quick look at the state’s college football teams and some of the key high school games this week.


Can’t Miss Alabama: Holiday weekend offers a wide variety of activities – We cross the state with family fun activities for the holiday weekend.


Katrina, karma and Confederate Motorcycles’ comeback – Left for dead in New Orleans, company is roaring back stronger than ever in Birmingham.


Katrina forever changed many lives, including these – Three Alabama Power employees share their Katrina stories.


Videos taken after Hurricane Katrina show extent of Alabama devastation – Alabama Power recordings not widely seen until now.


Alabama learned lessons in response to Hurricane Katrina – State believes it is better prepared for future disasters.


Woodlawn alum John Cross will ‘live forever’ in hologram of Negro League legend Paige – UAB student acts as holographic stand-in for pitching great.


Four-legged comfort – Hand in Paw provides animal-assisted therapy to hospitals, schools and homeless shelters. – See more at:


Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum expansion underway – Larger venue will allow more displays and events.


Eric Essix Jazz Escape this weekend at Ross Bridge – Acclaimed guitarist using event to promote album and to give something back to young people.


Mobile could be cruising with Carnival again – Mayor Stimpson confirms deal is close to bring cruise line back to Port City.


Alabama Bright Lights: Aubrey Miller’s mission to wipe out one childhood disease – “We have made more advances in the past 10 years than the 50 years prior.” Aubrey Miller, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation


The chance to be a hero – Children’s of Alabama is ‘Committed to a Cure’ with bone marrow registry drive Sept. 1-2.


Be the Match: Patience provides the perfect match – She gave 19 years ago to help save the life of this one patient.


Alabama Launchpad funds four startups, honors innovation – Celebrating companies and people who innovate.


EDPA and Alabama Launchpad recognize, reward renewal – Gov. Bentley calls innovation and entrepreneurship the “third leg” of state’s economic development stool.


Alabama Power unveils Innovation Team – In conjunction with Innovation Week Birmingham, Alabama Power today announced the creation of an Innovation Team that will explore new opportunities for the company to better serve customers and the state.


PSC approves renewable energy proposal – “This allows Alabama Power to offer renewables where they make sense for our customers.” Nick Sellers, vice president of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs


100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die: Black Rock Bistro – Here’s a place to find simple, flavorful dishes – Cajun style!





Weather Apps And Other Things

| 7:00 am September 3, 2015

I think most of you know by now the “James Spann 24/7” weather app has been replaced by a new app that is being offered by ABC 33/40; this will have all the functionality of the old app, along with our news and sports content. Basically a “one stop shop” so you don’t have to have multiple apps on your phone or tablet.

It is still a work in progress, but you can find it here…

iOS (iPhones, iPads, etc)


I was very excited to offer the “James Spann 24/7” app since it was all human powered. Real weather discussion written by real meteorologists that explain the weather. It basically offered all of my products and services on one place. These blog posts, the Weather Xtreme video, WeatherBrains, and much more. All of these elements will be in the new app… thanks for your patience.

Some so many of you are asking about weather sources, apps, etc these days… here are some thoughts that might help.

WEATHER INFORMATION IS A COMMODITY: You can get a weather forecast anywhere these days. I have seen weather forecasts on everything from furniture store apps to political candidate web sites. Weather apps by the thousands are available on your “app store”, and most of them don’t cost a dime. While this sounds great, the problem is accuracy and dependability.

The stock weather app on your phone, and almost all other weather apps and web sites, generate automated forecasts using raw computer “model output statistics”. Not one professional meteorologist (and, in most cases, not one human) reviews the forecasts before they are made available. And, boy, can these automated forecasts steer you wrong.

Here is a screen grab from a weather app earlier this summer…


And, most of these “forecasts” show a nice little icon of the weather (sun, storm, clouds, etc), and three numbers. High, low, and “probability of precipitation”. While this works on some days, on really active weather days it is of no help. You have no idea if there is a severe weather threat, the amount of rain or precipitation expected, timing, and placement.

Many of you know our frustration, and we often call these “crap apps”. Trust me, I fully understand very few people wait on the television news to come on to get a weather update, and I am delighted to offer round the clock weather products at your convenience. No, I don’t get much sleep, but it is a delight to be able to offer weather products and services at all hours of the day and night since that is my passion in life.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: You need to get weather information from a source that offers content put together by a real meteorologist, that understands the people, culture, and geography of your home state. A written discussion that goes beyond the little cartoon pictures of weather, that is updated frequently. And, preferably a video that explains what to expect and doesn’t treat you like an idiot. If you app features videos that tell you to go into an air conditioned room during hot weather, you might look elsewhere.

RECOMMENDED SOURCES/APPS: So, what apps do I need? Which ones are reliable? Here are some suggestions…

THIS BLOG: If you are reading this, then we are preaching to the choir. The blog is unique, and a strong source for Alabama weather information. Yes, we get it wrong sometimes. But, our short term (48 hour) accuracy is in the 92-95 percent category. And, when I miss the big one, I am open and honest.

There are seven meteorologists who write here, with over 100 years combined weather experience in Alabama. The Weather Xtreme video is posted twice daily weekdays, and once daily weekends.

If you live outside Alabama…. do your best to find a similar source. And, the blog is available on the new ABC 33/40 app mentioned above.

WARNING APPS: Getting severe weather warnings is extremely important. Yes, the built in “WEA”… or wireless emergency alert system seems to work well for flash flood and tornado warnings, but we really don’t know how that works, and we really don’t know the reliability. My favorite warnings apps are “WeatherRadio by WDT”, and “MyWarn”. I have no financial interest in either app, and they both work very well. Your generic, free weather app won’t do this well.

RADAR APP: RadarScope is the winner by far. They offer a version for iOS, Android, and OS X (Apple computers). And, you can get radar with this on your Apple Watch. And yes, I love it. And, over on the Windows side, the Gibson Ridge radar software is excellent.

LIGHTNING APP: I use BoltMeter, but for some reason that is not available now within the US app stores. I have purchased the lightning add-on within “WeatherRadio by WDT” which offers real time lightning data, and alerts are well. This is a critical function for outdoor events, especially on summer afternoons. RadarScope offers real time lightning data as well for a small price.

Have suggestions? List them in the comment section.

The one thing I try and do is be available to answer your weather questions. I don’t have a 15 minute chat session we advertise on TV… I am around most hours of the day and night. Best way of getting me is social media…

Google Plus

My personal email is here… and I respond quickly. The only thing I don’t do is a phone call; I have not answered my work phone since 1998. Too much time consumption.

Your pictures and reports are so helpful, and I thank all for engaging with me in the new digital world. And again, I will let you know the minute the new ABC 33/40 app is available…

Good News About Our State from Our Friends at Alabama NewsCenter

| 3:08 pm August 28, 2015

Here are some of our favorite stories from our partners at Alabama NewsCenter from this past week, August 21 – 27, 2015.

Can’t Miss Alabama: This week’s summertime favorites include jazz, expos and a film festival – Here’s a look at the hottest happenings across the state this weekend.



Sidewalk Film Festival’s 17th year more diverse, local at same time – Films from more than two dozen countries join large Alabama-produced slate.



Homewood restaurant owners turn Katrina tragedy into triumph – A decade after hurricane, couple finds recipe for recovery in Alabama.



Katrina took her home in Mississippi, now she sells them in Birmingham – “I realize how hard it is to lose everything and not have a home of your own.” – Pye Parson



Blown from New Orleans by Katrina, family puts down roots in Alabama’s Wiregrass – Harolyn Benjamin went from helping others to being helped and is now helping others again.



Jasper couple left New Orleans, but the city has never left them – Kilgores now share a taste of Louisiana through Black Rock Bistro.



Regions Field attendance tops 400,000 for second straight season – Barons reach milestone in consecutive seasons for first time in more than 60 years.



Alabama Bright Lights: Curtis Saucier pays the love forward – “God gives special kids to special people.” – Curtis Saucier.



Russellville rocket team sets sights on NASA Student Launch program – Victory fuels the desire to compete in another major competition.



Brighter Minds: “Raising the bar by raising your hand” – “Education is the key to opening every door.” Margaret Morton, Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement



Motley: Changing the trajectory of education in Alabama requires engagement – Aspen Institute leader knows the importance of support.



How Alabama is matching workforce needs with state education – “Alabama business and industry have spoken and they’ve spoken loudly.” – Dr. Philip Cleveland



Playing it SAFE for Alabama families and education – Margaret Morton believes workforce development lies in family development.



100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die: Irondale Café – Check out this tasty Southern side dish featured this week.



Alabama Power Foundation accepting Students to Stewards grant applications – Program supports conservation education across Alabama.



Alabama Road Trips: On the trail of the pig – Alabama’s historic barbecue restaurants – Alabama “Q” has been around since the 1890s, but it’s never been bigger.



Southern Company/AGL Resources deal would create leading U.S. joint electricity-natural gas utility – Purchase is Alabama Power parent’s largest energy diversification acquisition.



Mercedes won’t exit Saints stadium pact with new Falcons deal – Automaker set to sponsor rivals’ venues in New Orleans and Atlanta.



Montgomery area children take in trick golf shots, First Tee values – Alabama Power Junior Clinic teaches while entertaining.



Women urged at Mobile forum to ‘step off that cliff’ – Shattering the Glass Ceiling encourages and challenges Alabama women.



Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic tees off with ‘extremely strong’ field – Top women in golf playing today through Sunday in Alabama.



Murphy vs. Baker among Alabama NewsCenter’s top high school football match-ups this week – A look at some Alabama high school football games you may want to take in this week.


More Good News About Our State from the Alabama NewsCenter

| 2:04 pm August 21, 2015

Here are some of our favorite stories from our partners at Alabama NewsCenter from the past week, August 14 – 20.

Can’t Miss Alabama: Concerts, festivals, fishing and more – Here’s your handy guide to weekend activities across Alabama.

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Deontay Wilder looks to make boxing big business in Alabama – Fight aims to top $1.5 million economic impact of one in June

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Tomberlin’s Take: Kamtek $530 million investment ends “the question” – Auto supplier evidence of new economic development vigor in the Magic City

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Noah Galloway honored by state broadcasters – The veteran has become a household name thanks to a national television stint, but he proudly calls Alabama home.

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100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die: Ranelli’s Deli – Seriously, these are some of the best foods this state has to offer.

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Synchronized fireflies give glow and show in Vestavia Hills yard – Insects unusual outside of Smoky Mountains, experts say.

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Using technology and creativity in innovative ways in the classroom – “We must prepare students for the jobs of the future.” Mark Coleman, Brighter Minds panelist.

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Linking childhood behavior with workforce development – “Tune in to your child, not at the frequency you think they ought to be at.” Ellen Abell, Brighter Minds panelist.

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Plant Greene County celebrates 50 years of serving West Alabama – Reflecting on five decades of faithful service to this West Alabama community.

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Mercedes supplier SMP to open $150 million Alabama facility, creating 650 jobs – New 700,000-square-foot plant to start construction this year.

8-21-2015 1-39-58 PM

Alabama Bright Lights: Welcome to Rainbow Omega – A place for those with developmental disabilities to live with dignity and love.

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Better preparations and lessons learned after storms – Major utilities are coming together to be better prepared the next time a major storm strikes.

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Power to Play grant program accepting applications – Power To Play returns today for its second year of helping increase high school athletics participation.

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APSO back-to-school efforts aid students across the state – “When you see the kids’ excitement, it’s worth everything.” Marcy Brown, APSO volunteer.
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Festival of Hope brought message, music to Birmingham – Franklin Graham featured at three-day religious event.

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A place to be recognized – The A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club instructs Birmingham-area youths in academic success, healthy lifestyles and character and leadership development.

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Chess gets students’ minds on board as school starts back – Back-2-School Scholastics tournament draws more than 60 young participants.

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Proud To Be From Birmingham!

| 10:26 am July 23, 2015


Magical things are happening in Birmingham right now. The re-urbanization of the City Center is well underway and gaining momentum. The Uptown Entertainment District is a huge success and a critical asset to attracting bigger and better conventions to our city. Other entertainment districts like Lakeview and Avondale are happening organically. Railroad Park and Regions Field have been game changers.

I recently answered a question on Trippy about what there was to do with a group coming to Birmingham in September. The answers just flowed!

Our very own Lynn Oldshue has recently written an excellent article for her website The Southern Rambler. If you are from Birmingham, it will make you proud.

James Spann App Update

| 9:22 pm July 1, 2015

Again, I apologize to all of you who have not been able to access weather data from the James Spann 24/7 app over the past 48 hours. Here is the situation….

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 7.47.16 AM

*Unfortunately, the James Spann 24/7 app is going away. Functionality will not return.

*The developer was sold, and they opted not to support the app, and to take it offline yesterday. Nothing we can do.

*On the positive side, we have decided to roll out one new app for ABC 33/40. No more separate apps for James Spann, weather, news, and sports… just one very clean app. All of the content that was available on old James Spann 24/7 app, and the old ABC 33/40 weather app, will be there. It has been submitted to Apple and Google for their app stores, and we are just waiting for approval.

I do believe this will make it easier for all of us, but we are so sorry James Spann 24/7 went offline before the new one hits the app stores.

FOR NOW: This is how to get all of the various products that are on the old James Spann 24/7 app…

WEATHER BLOG: If you are reading this, then you are on the blog. I post two detailed meteorological discussions daily here, and during active weather the blog is updated very frequently. Our posts are written by meteorologists that understand Alabama weather, and the needs of the people that live here. We work long hours keeping this updated.

SEVEN DAY FORECAST: Our seven day is available on the blog anytime here.

WEATHER XTREME VIDEO: This twice daily video is embedded in the blog discussions I write. You can also see the video via YouTube here. And, we also offer this video as a video podcast… just search for Weather Xtreme video in your favorite podcast app. Here is a link to the iTunes version.

WEATHERBRAINS: Our weekly show all about weather has a video and an audio version. For the audio podcast, just search for “Weatherbrains” in your favorite podcast app; here is a link to the audio files from our provider, Libsyn. For the video version, here is the YouTube link.

And, for show notes and more details on the show, just see the Weatherbrains web site. We produce the show most weeks Monday night at 8:30 CT… here is a link to the live stream and chat room. You can also watch it on our digital weather channel, “James Spann 24/7” on cable systems around the state.

SUMBIT PICTURES/VIDEO: One of the great parts of the app was the ability to do this easily. You can send pictures or video to me anytime via email directly.

SOCIAL MEDIA: You can find me on all of the major social networks here… you can always submit pictures, ask questions, or share comments on any of these platforms.

Google Plus

I will let you know the minute the new app is available. And again, thank you for your patience!