January 11, 2007 Meeting

The meeting was held at the Ichiban Chinese Buffet in Flowood. Our guest speaker was James Spann, chief meteorologist at ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Meeting Minutes

The first meeting of Jackson Chapter’s NWA/AMS in 2007 was held on Thursday, January 11, 2007, at 7:00 pm, at the new Ichiban Chinese Buffet. The meeting was opened by chapter President Eric Carpenter, with 21 people in attendance.

Discussion was initiated by Eric Carpenter in the opening session, concerning the chapter’s new web page. Carolyn Bryant, Chapter Webmaster, has designed the new Jackson Chapter web page and it is now on-line. The chapter officers will be working on content for the page, including by-laws and other chapter information, to be added soon.

Following the opening session, Eric Carpenter introduced the guest speaker for the evening, James Spann from ABC 33/40 in Birmingham. Mr. Spann began to speak on how we, as meteorologists, are beginning to become disconnected with people with all of the statistics we use. He also spoke on how much the television industry has changed, and will change, since he first began his career in television meteorology. He spoke on his opinion of how to handle severe weather events during a transitional time such as the one we are in now.

For his method, he begins by getting on the air the night before to talk about the expected weather the next day. He also suggests that it would be good to have someone from the National Weather Service join him in this discussion. He also has a live stream of data, internet videos, weather blogs, E-forecasts (which is an email product), and weather faxes to get people the information on the expected weather the night before. The main point he makes is to use the technology that is changing the business to prepare people for the severe weather.

During a severe weather event, Mr. Spann has long form TV coverage of the event. He also has a live internet stream, long form radio coverage, his blog is up to date, and he uses E-Warn (which is a pager system). He also has a system of instant messaging set up that he uses during severe weather. This will allow for him to receive storm reports and get them out on the air as soon as he receives them. He is in contact with the National Weather Service offices, storm spotters, and other weather interests, to get storm-related information.

Mr. Spann also says that we have a False Alarm Rate (FAR) problem that we need desperately to fix. The more we warn and nothing happens, the less our customers will trust us. He suggests that a way to minimize this problem is to train and utilize more “skywatchers.” He also suggests that a skycam network be installed, and that the instant messaging system be better utilized, to get critical information to the National Weather Service for consideration in warning decisions.

Overall, Mr. Spann discusses that with the change in technology, we need to quickly adapt. This is the best way to get information to our public and minimize false alarms. By doing this, our customers will trust us more and react more seriously to warnings issued.

The meeting was adjourned by Eric Carpenter.

Minutes submitted by Ashley Wester.

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