Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Another long weather geek introduction...

I am glad to be joining the Southeastern Weather Brigade. I guess I'm like Dew...I have too much to say when I start talking weather. I was born and raised in North Alabama. It was easy for me to grow up as a weather geek. The Superoutbreak of April 3, 1974 made a huge impact on me as a boy. I remember standing in my living room in Huntsville listening the roar of a tornado as it tore across Monte Sano. The power was out for days. The Red Cross had blood drives. The tornadoes of that day placed fear and awe of nature’s fury in North Alabama residents.

After the Superoutbreak of 1974, I couldn’t get enough of the weather. I drew weather maps in class (I still have those stored away somewhere), I recorded my own forecasts on cassette tapes, I mailed requests to local TV weathermen to get their autographs, I graphed daily high and low temperatures, and I sent off for all of the archived climate data reports for Huntsville. One of my friends and I would lie on the ground and watch the cumulonimbus clouds develop in the spring and summer. I visited the local TV stations and the Huntsville NWS. I became a certified weather geek

When I graduated from high school there were not as many college meteorology programs as there are today. I considered Penn State and Florida State. I actually received a scholarship to attend Penn State to study meteorology. The day I was scheduled to fly up there with my Dad I got cold feet. I was afraid I couldn’t handle the math and I wasn’t ready to move that far from home in Alabama. It was a decision that, in some ways, I regret to this day.

Off I went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Even though I took another college and career path, I never stopped being a weather geek. While studying at UA in the 1980's, I was a storm chaser before storm chasing was “cool”. I spent hours at the library, reading and printing newspaper articles on microfilm about historic Alabama tornadoes. I planned on writing a book about that subject. As it does, life has a way of getting in the way of such big youthful plans. In 1989, one of my best friend’s wife was severely injured in the Huntsville Airport Road tornado.

I started my own weather web page in 1996, which was well received at the time and was a great resource for weather links for about 6 years. I had everything there at a time when weather resources on the web were not as available as they are today. I became a trained storm spotter, attending classes by Birmingham NWS Meteorologist Brian Peters. In 1995, I followed the Anderson Hills tornado through Limestone County. I was first on the scene of a major disaster at a trailer park northwest of Athens. I remember carrying a man out on a stretcher who was bleeding and stepping on a nail as I left the scene.

A few years later I was able to get a job offer from the Alabama EMA, which would have been a dream job for me. Unfortunately my (now) ex-wife didn’t want me to take the job so I didn’t. That was yet another time in my life where my weather dream was detoured, but you can’t stop a true weather geek.

I have been an online weather watcher for James Spann at ABC 33/40 in Birmingham for about ten years. I also had some additional storm spotter training with the NWS in Huntsville. For the last year I have written a blog about Alabama weather and joined James Spann’s Skywatcher IM conference. I am now very please to join the Southeast Weather Brigade.

7 comments:

Rick said...

And did he mention he is a Tide fan!!! Gotta love him!!! Welcome aboard Mike!

Mike said...

Thanks Rick and Roll Tide!

Dewdrop said...

Welcome aboard, Mike! Great contributions so far, and I don't think your intro was long-winded at all... ;-)

Jay Reid said...

Thanks for adding some sanity to the team...

Dewdrop said...

Just scanning his intro for the word sanity... let's see, sanity, sanity... nope... no where...

Mike said...

thanks folks...but Jay, I'm not sure about sanity...most everybody I know thinks I'm insane about the wx...so I fit in well here and I'm sure i'm sane relative to this group...

i'm sure you all have been told how crazy you are for your extreme interest in wx

Jay Reid said...

Guilty as charged...