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Brains Bios

James SpannJames Spann

I am the Chief Meteorologist for the ABC TV affiliate in Birmingham and produce daily weather forecasts on over two dozen radio stations around the nation. I have been doing the weather on radio and TV since 1978, making me an old geezer, but a guy that still has a blast doing weather across a variety of media platforms. WeatherBrains is my creative outlet of the week; I host the show simply because I have the toys to put it together. I love sitting behind the golden PR-40 every Monday night for our weekly WeatherBrains session.

My TV career started in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at the local CBS affiliate at the time, WCFT, Channel 33. Along the way I have spent time at WSFA-TV in Montgomery, Alabama (Channel 12), WVTM in Birmingham (Channel 13), KDFW in Dallas (Channel 4), and WBRC in Birmingham (Channel 6). I have been at my current station since 1996; clearly the longest stop in my long career. And, I hope it is the last!

I hold the AMS CBM (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist)… 33rd in the nation. I wanted to be in the top ten, but I just didn’t have time to take the exam right when the program started.

I have been married to my wife Karen since 1981, and we have two boys that happen to be 13 years apart. One is out of college, the other is in middle school. Away from the weather business, I serve in children’s ministry at a local church and still enjoy amateur radio as my hobby. I hold the extra class license, and my call is WO4W. I am blessed.

Bill MurrayBill Murray

I was factory designed to love weather and have loved it since I came into this world. I am the official weather historian for WeatherBrains. My heroes are David Ludlum, and our very own J.B. Elliott, who we miss very much. Snow is my favorite weather phenomenon, but I am fascinated by hurricanes and tornadoes as well.

My junior year in high school, I did a science project that stopped hurricanes. In May 1979, that project, entitled “Using Monomolecular Sea Surface Polymer Films to Suppress Tropical Cyclone Development” went to the 20th International Science and Engineering Fair in San Antonio, Texas where it won several awards.

I did television weather for fun at the CBS affiliate in Birmingham for five years in the early 90s and created a weather company called The Weather Source with John Oldshue. We sold it in 1996. Our group formed The Weather Company in 1998. In 2002, I was asked to author an annual weather calendar published by Andrew McNeel. It puts a lot of my weather trivia information to use. I have been the President of The Weather Factory (originally called The Weather Company) since 1998. I get to do weekend forecasting and severe weather coverage on the AlabamaWX website.

I have been serving as the Guest Booking Officer as well as being a charter Panelist on the WeatherBrains since it began back in 2006.

I also own a hotel management company that manages 34 hotels across the country from New Mexico to Florida. My work on Integral Hospitality Solutions takes me all over the nation, which leads to some interesting settings for my forecasts. Many reports have originated from AMTRAK trains, sporting events, and festivals.

Kim Klockow-McClainKim Klockow-McClain

Kim Klockow-McClain is a research scientist and the societal impacts coordinator for CIMMS/NSSL. Her research involves behavioral science focused on weather and climate risk, especially informed decision- making to support warning response, and issues in the communication of forecast uncertainty.

In addition to research pursuits, Kim is working to develop a formal social scientific research portfolio at CIMMS/NSSL.

Kim previously worked at NOAA headquarters as a policy advisor for social science integration. She was the 2013-2014 AMS/UCAR Congressional Science Fellow, and worked in the office of Senator Jeff Merkley. Prior to her fellowship year, Kim earned her Doctorate in Hazards Geography and Masters of Professional Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma, and Bachelors degrees in Economics and Meteorology from Purdue University.

Nate JohnsonNate Johnson

Like many meteorologists and weather enthusiasts, I can point to a single day as the genesis of my fascination with weather. A rare “outbreak” of tornadoes from Georgia through the Carolinas on one Friday night put a pretty good scare into me, and I’ve been hooked on the weather ever since.

These days, the scare is gone, but the fascination remains as strong as ever. I double-majored in meteorology and computer science at NC State University in Raleigh, NC. While there, I worked with a research group conducting real-time mesoscale modeling of the southeastern US, resurrected a student-led forecasting operation for the campus newspaper and radio station, interned (literally) across the street at WRAL-TV, and did some independent research on the NWS Modernization of the 1990s.

After graduating, I moved to Abilene, TX, to be a meteorologist at KTXS-TV. I spent a little more than six wonderful years there, covering more than a few tornadoes and hailstorms, and meeting the woman that would become my wife. After getting married, I “hung up the clicker”, and we moved to College Station, TX. During that time, I worked for Huntsville, AL-based Baron Services, where I did some data product development, implemented a data monitoring system, and had the chance to do radar projects, including dual-pol radar training. In late 2007, I left Baron to move back home and work as a meteorologist and executive producer for WRAL-TV in Raleigh. I returned to NC State for a master’s in communication, where I studied how people get, use, and abuse weather forecast information. I also teach a broadcast meteorology course at NC State and work with the Athletics Department to ensure the safety of Wolfpack fans at some outdoor events.

My biggest hobby outside of work is flying. I started flying in early 2015 and have been logging hours in small aircraft ever since. It’s been a lifelong dream to be able to learn (and keep learning), and I’ve found it’s only reinforced my fascination with the weather. I also enjoy traveling, running, hiking, biking, and spending time with family and friends. I am a long-suffering fan of the Chicago Cubs, and in college sports, I pull for both my alma mater (the NC State Wolfpack) and my wife’s alma mater (the Fightin’ Texas Aggies of Texas A&M).

Aubrey UrbanowiczAubrey Urbanowitz

I live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where I am a Meteorologist at WHSV, the ABC, CBS and FOX affiliate in Harrisonburg Virginia. I have been at WHSV since 2010 and I am the main evening Meteorologist. I’m from Connecticut but I have lived in many areas along the east coast. I didn’t exactly grow up dreaming of my life as a Broadcast Meteorologist.

My weather career actually sprung from my previous job with Chili’s restaurants. I started traveling for Chili’s and was part of the New Store Opening Team. I did over 40 openings in the 6 years that I traveled. It was on those openings where I got caught in several (7) hurricanes and therefore my passion for weather finally hit me. I think the passion was always there, but it never clicked until 2005.

I decided to go through the Distance program at Mississippi State so I could continue to work and travel, while I finished my degree.

I had a lot of help along my way into Broadcasting, and I interned at WJHL in Johnson City Tennessee. It was there that I learned so much about being on-air and forecasting in the mountains. I also credit my 12 years of training at Chili’s, as helping me have the courage and confidence to stand up every day in front of a camera.

I love my career choice and feel lucky every day to have found a job I truly love. Outside of work I love to still travel, hike, and I enjoy seeing all the history that surrounds this beautiful country. I enjoy cooking, running, and just being outside. I met my husband here in Harrisonburg, and we now have our little Bear (dog).

I never imagined that I would have a job on TV. I was always the shy girl in the corner, who struggled with my science homework. There’s a lot to be said for taking the time to experience each opportunity that you come across. I love having a job where every day is different, and there are always new things to learn.

I’m so thrilled to be part of the Weather Brains crew.

Kevin SelleKevin Selle

The best thing in weather is a windy dry cold front. To stand with a warm, humid south wind at your back, then have nature turn on the air conditioning and feel a chilly north wind on your face, is pure magic.

Kevin’s wife Tracy, son Matthew, and Kevin arrived in Wichita Falls from Dallas/Fort Worth. He was the Chief Meteorologist at Texas Cable News since the launch of the station in 1998.

Prior to returning to Texas, Kevin was a 1988 graduate of Texas Christian University, and he was the Chief Meteorologist at WTVR-TV in Richmond, VA. Tracy and Kevin met in Richmond. She also did the weather for one of the competing stations! Kevin and Tracy still remember how much fun it was when people would recognize one of them or the other, and then take a minute to figure out what competing meteorologists were doing together.

Kevin started his television weather career in Birmingham, AL, at WBRC-TV where he was the weekend meteorologist. Studying meteorology through Mississippi State University and learning in a very active weather market, set a very serious tone for severe weather coverage that he carries with him today.

Prior to television, Kevin worked as a radio announcer at stations in Birmingham, AL, Austin, TX, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, Boston, MA. Newport, RI, and Providence, RI, where he started his career.

Kevin is a woodworker, bicyclist, and an avid photographer and loves to take day trips. He hopes you will take a moment to find him on social media and share the best things about living in Texoma.

Rick SmithRick Smith

I was born and raised in Olive Branch, Mississippi, just south of Memphis, and have been into weather for as long as I can remember. There wasn’t really a single event that sparked my interest in weather, just a combination of intense fear and intense fascination with tornadoes and severe weather. I’ve wanted to be a meteorologist since forever, and I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love…and get paid to do it!

I’m one of the few and the proud to receive a degree from the very short-lived meteorology program at the University of Memphis. While finishing up college, I worked as a Student Volunteer, and then got a paid student position and eventually a full-time meteorologist intern position at my hometown NWS office in Memphis. In 1997, I moved to Tulsa, OK to be a forecaster, and moved again in 1999 to work in the NWS Southern Region headquarters in Fort Worth. I was selected to be the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at NWS Norman – my dream job – in January of 2002, and I’ve been here ever since.

While tornadoes got me into weather, my main interests have always been associated with communication of weather information, human response to warnings and the societal impacts of severe weather. I’ve been active (probably too active) in social media since 2009 and am fascinated with learning about how people and organizations use weather information to make critical decisions.

I’m married to a beautiful and patient wife who puts up with all the craziness that weather in Oklahoma can bring, and we have four awesome kids.

Troy KimmelTroy Kimmel

Troy Kimmel (BS, Geography, Texas A & M University, 1984), Senior Lecturer in Studies in Weather and Climate in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin as well as Chief Meteorologist at KOKE-FM (Austin Radio Network), has been forecasting Austin and south-central Texas weather for over 30 years. He is a full member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association, the Association of American Geographers, the International Association of Emergency Managers as well as the Emergency Management Association of Texas.

He holds the AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal as well as the TV and Radio Seals of Approval from the National Weather Association. In addition to his teaching duties at the University of Texas, he serves on the University of Texas Safety and Security Committee where he serves as University/Incident Response Meteorologist for emergency activations and special events (athletic events, graduation) on campus and, in the community, as a CERT Team Member for the City of Austin and for the Travis County offices of Homeland Security and Emergency Management as well to the Operations Division of Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

He has completed FEMA Incident Command System (ICS) 100, 200, 300, 400, 700 and 800 certifications. He also owns and operates KimCo Meteorological Services providing meteorological services to the private sector. Kimmel has been recognized by the American Meteorological Society for “The Award for Outstanding Service by a Broadcast Meteorologist” (January 1998) and by the National Weather Association as “The National Television Broadcaster of the Year” (October 1988).

Dr. John ScalaDr. John Scala

My decision to embrace meteorology as a career was anything but direct. I was not one of those who witnessed a magical or surreal weather event and found a life-long passion to pursue. Don’t misunderstand me, I was always interested in weather but more accurately, I was interested in science. Thunderstorms intrigued me as a kid; I would watch them for as long as I could, staying up late at night fascinated by the sound of thunder and the brilliance of the lightning. Yet, a career in the field never occurred to me until graduate school. Up to that point, I was convinced that a Ph.D. in paleontology, spending hours in the field collecting fossils and teaching would be my career of choice.

I decided to change my academic focus upon completion of my master’s research which focused on the character of the beach soils that lined the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. In 1987, I joined a multi-national team funded by NASA to examine the impact of deforestation on deep convection in the Amazon Rain Forest. The Project Scientist for the study was Mike Garstang, a Tropical Meteorologist who convinced me the data we would collect over the Amazon would be meteorological “gold.” It was my first experience setting up field equipment, launching weather balloons and flying around storms in an old NASA Electra four-engine turboprop.

The collaboration led to a post-doc at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 1990 where I worked with Joanne Simpson in the Laboratory for Atmospheres, the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Meteorology. Her husband, Bob, was the first director of the National Hurricane Center and co-founder of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. I spent July of 1991 in central FL participating in the Convection and Precipitation/Electrification Experiment and flew on the NCAR King Air sampling towering cumulus just as they became electrified. In the summer of 1993, I used a two-dimensional cloud model to forecast convection in North Dakota where I flew on the University of North Dakota Cessna Citation II and a Weather Modification Inc. Beech Duke in and around storms.

I embarked on a career in academia in 1995, this time teaching meteorology at the State University of New York College at Brockport. I continued to fly into wild weather, this time convection associated with lake effect snow over Lake Michigan during the 1998 Lake-Ice Experiment. I flew on the University of Wyoming King Air sampling sensible and latent heat fluxes off the lake surface during cold air outbreaks. The extreme turbulence generated dozens of waterspouts which I was able to photograph at 100 meters off the lake surface.

I joined The Weather Channel in 1998 as their Meteorological Training Coordinator and then as their first on-air Storm Analyst. I provided live coverage of the historic Great Plains tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999, August 11, 1999, Salt Lake City F2 and the Fort Worth F3 tornado of March 28, 2000.

From academia to national television then back to academia in 2002 when I accepted a tenure track appointment at Millersville University of Pennsylvania; I also held the position of Associate Director of Millersville’s Center for Disaster Research and Education. I traveled to Louisiana and Mississippi in September 2005 to interview first responders about communication issues they faced immediately following Hurricane Katrina’s record storm surge of 27.8 feet.

I left academia for good in 2005 and joined the News8 Storm Team at WGAL-TV where I covered the weather for central Pennsylvania for the next 12 years. At the same time, I began to develop a private consulting business. I applied to the American Meteorological Society’s Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) program and earned my certification in 2011. An increasing caseload and a desire not to work seven days a week convinced me to leave the chroma key behind.

I work primarily with attorneys and insurance professionals writing opinions on a variety of weather-related topics involved in criminal and civil litigation ranging from boating and motor vehicle accidents to personal injury, and storm-related damage. I maintain a close working relationship with the National Weather Service by collaborating on research projects designed to improve operational forecasting as well as assisting in site surveys of tornado and severe storm damage. I am also a certified instructor for FEMA through the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center.

I am a past president of the National Weather Association and earned their Member of the Year Award in 2009.

Brian PetersBrian Peters

As a kid in Vermont, I used to kneel on the sofa looking out the window watching thunderstorms in progress. When my family moved to Florida, Hurricane Donna piqued my interest in weather due in part to the professional presentation of a television meteorologist named Roy Leep. Roy was a true degreed meteorologist well ahead of his time who broke the mold of the entertainer as weather person.

It was on to Florida State University where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. I was fortunate to work for the Weather Bureau, predecessor to the National Weather Service (NWS), each summer following graduation from high school. While other kids were doing the typical part-time jobs like clerking, grocery bagging, and lifeguarding, I was learning to take surface weather observations and processing upper-air observations.

Working with the NWS across the Southeast US nurtured my interest in severe weather. Another influence on my life came from Alan Moller. I used to go with Alan on some of his spotter training presentations and gained a valuable understanding of the importance of spotters and storm structure. Over time I also gained experience in storm surveys. My exposure to training by Tim Marshall on the effects of wind on structures has proven beneficial when trying to sort out details after a storm.

Having done weather forecasting across the Southeast, I was again fortunate to serve on the Olympic Weather Support Team during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. During my first year with ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, I fulfilled a lifelong desire to fly with the Hurricane Hunters. I was on a flight that went through Hurricane Ivan four times including several passes while it was a Category 5 storm. I later was detailed by ABC 3340 to Gulf Shores to greet the storm as it came ashore.

Weather has been more than just a profession with me. I have a passion about the weather and appreciate the opportunity to share insight into the weather each week as part of the WeatherBrains crew.