‘Respect the Polygon’: James Spann talks March 19, weather safety

James Spann poses with Cocky before his presentation at the Leone Cole Auditorium on the campus of Jacksonville State University (Hollie Ivey, The Chanticleer)

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief

“All it takes is one. [Jacksonville’s] April 27 is March 19”

Just four months after tornadoes ravaged the campus of Jacksonville State and the surrounding community, Alabama’s most famous TV meteorologist visited JSU to discuss his career, the March 19 Tornadoes and weather safety in today’s age.

James Spann, who began his television career in 1978 and moved to his current home, ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, in 1996, talked to a large crowd of JSU students, faculty and members of the Jacksonville community in Jacksonville State’s Leone Cole Auditorium Friday morning.

Spann says, that, while the March 19 storms unleashed carnage on the town, there is one very important silver lining.

“This is the one thing we can celebrate: I’m not showing you any faces. Nobody died that day,” Spann said. “Some of the things we learned in 2011 are starting to pay off.”

Spann refers to the April 27, 2011 Super Outbreak in Alabama, in which 62 tornadoes touched the ground and 252 people died.

Spann says that, although that day more than seven years ago was a terrible tragedy, it showed him a lot about how to reach people in times of crisis and taught citizens, including those in Jacksonville, to take severe weather coverage seriously.

“The people heard the warning, responded, and knew what to do,” Spann said of the Jacksonville community on the evening of March 19. “That is the way it should work. We should celebrate that.”

Spann says that days like April 27 and March 19 are why he does his job. “Your cumulative knowledge and experience will bring you to one or two days when all of it is needed.”

Spann also gave some tips for how to stay weather aware and safe, including avoiding relying on sirens, keeping a weather radio in your house, and downloading weather warning apps on your phone.

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