Easter Forecast

April 18th, 2014 at 3:12 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Rain Ending

A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect for Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties until 6pm. However, most of the significant rain is shifting east of the forecast area. The low pressure in the Gulf produced an inch of rain for Mobile, with 2”-4” amounts across the panhandle. Other than isolated showers, the rain is just about over with for the night. Afternoon temperatures were a bit cool with the north wind. We will be rather cool tonight with a low in the lower 50’s.

Nice Easter Weekend

Our temperatures begin to rise as we head into the weekend. Saturday looks partly cloudy with highs near 76. Easter Sunday looks even warmer with highs near 78 degrees and plenty of sunshine. Rain is not expected. Chances also look low for next week. Temperatures will trend above 80 degrees Monday-Friday.

Facebook: Meteorologist Jason Smith
Twitter: @JasonSmithFox10

Not as Cold

April 18th, 2014 at 3:11 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Record Cold

As expected, we did see record cold last night. Temperatures stayed above freezing in most locations. However, we tied the record for Mobile at 37. Pensacola also tied a record at 42. While Destin set a new record low at 44 degrees. Temperatures rebounded nicely by afternoon with sunny skies. Tonight’s lows will be well above freezing.

Warmer Trend

Things get even warmer on Thursday and Friday. Temperatures climb above 70 degrees both afternoons. Rain chances increase Thursday night. A decent chance of showers are possible on Good Friday with a chance at 50 %. Saturday and Easter Sunday look mainly dry and warm. We will be close to 80 on Sunday.

Meeting a Saint

April 16th, 2014 at 12:11 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

Meeting the Pope, 1988I’ve been lucky enough to meet some fascinating people since starting in radio in 1970 and moving to television in 1974.  When I’m asked who was the most interesting, my answer is always the same: Pope John Paul II.

But my first trip to see him almost ended before it began.

Photographer Paula Ross and I left Mobile with luggage and easily a hundred pounds of camera gear, lights, a tripod and video cassettes. We were on our way to Rome to document Mobile Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb’s ad limina visit to the Vatican and Pope John Paul II, who will be proclaimed a saint, along with Pope John XXIII, on April 27, 2014. Ad limina is Latin for “to the thresholds of the apostles”.  It’s the name of a bishop’s periodic visits to the Pope.

Having checked everything through to Rome, Paula and I were waiting to board a PanAm flight from JFK when I heard my name on the public address system. It was bad news.

Monsignor David Sullivan, a beloved priest who had been ailing, had died, and Archbishop Lipscomb decided to delay his departure in order to celebrate his funeral. We didn’t know when the Archbishop would leave for Rome, so we had no choice but to return to Mobile.

I explained the dilemma to the woman at the gate who was sympathetic, but explained that since the flight was moments from departing, our luggage would make the trip to Rome without us. That meant were we stuck overnight in New York City without a change of clothes or toiletries. It was left up to me to decide where to stay, so the Waldorf-Astoria became a very comfortable home-away-from-home for one night. (Attention journalism students: those free- spending days are over.)

Bob and photographer Paula RossPaula and I got back to Mobile the next day, but we imagined our luggage (including all of our TV gear) going around and around on a carousel in Rome’s airport. I filed the paperwork to get it back and waited.

Monsignor Sullivan’s funeral took place and Archbishop Lipscomb rescheduled his visit. We made plans to leave again, but there was another problem; our checked baggage still hadn’t come back, and we wondered if we and our luggage would pass like two jets in the night. Luckily, everything returned to Mobile the day we were scheduled to leave. We checked it all again (paying another round of excess baggage fees) and finally arrived in Rome.

Except for our heavy, wooden tripod.

Nowadays, with current lightweight cameras, that wouldn’t be much of a problem. But in 1988, and a camera weighing close to 30 pounds, it would have been impossible to shoot hours of steady video without a good tripod.  In those days, networks still had bureaus all over the world. Paula visited our network news bureau to explain our dilemma. “No problem,” she was told and then directed to a room filled with tripods. Nice tripods. Better than the tripod we brought. We used that one until we left. (Ours eventually turned up at the airport.)

Pope greetingOur first chance to see Pope John Paul II was at his Wednesday General Audience, held that week inside Paul VI Audience Hall, just south of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The Hall holds 6,300 people and it was packed. Our camera position was to the Pope’s left, much closer to him than any of the laity in the audience.

Pope John Paul IIWe were allowed to leave that position toward the end of the Audience, and I tried to call out to the Pope as he was leaving. He looked in my direction but kept walking. In baseball terms, it was a swing and a miss.

Archbishop Oscar LipscombThe next morning, Paula and I received permission (everything in the Vatican required permission) to attend and videotape the Pope’s morning Mass. Archbishop Lipscomb was in our line of sight behind the Pope and some seminarians from Mobile were part of the choir, so it provided great video opportunities. The central balcony of St. Peter’s, where most recent Popes have greeted the faithful after their elections, was right behind me.  It was a setting that gave me chills.

At the conclusion of Mass, we were ushered into a huge hall, where those who attended Mass had a chance for a quick handshake with the Pope. I watched as the Pope moved quickly around the perimeter of the room and whispered to the Archbishop that it would be nice to have more than a 2 second shot of the Pope hurrying past us.

He responded by clasping the Pope’s hand as he came to our group, slowly introducing the “group from Mobile”, “including our television news anchor…”  At that point, the Pope looked at me and pointed, and I responded by greeting him in Slavic. I could speak and understand some of the language since my grandmothers spoke it around the house and my parents were fluent in it.  I greeted the Pope by saying, “Slava Isusu Christu”, which means, “Glory to Jesus Christ”.  It’s a traditional greeting at that time of year for those of us who are Eastern Rite Catholics.

The Pope hesitated for a second, perhaps wondering why this young, American TV person was speaking Slavic to him.  But the Polish Pope shifted instantly from English to Slavic and responded, “I v’iki v’kov” which means “Forever and Ever”, the traditional response.  He continued, also in Slavic, asking if I were Ukrainian.  I told him, no, I was Slavic.  By that time, he was being hurried through the line and I knew I had enough video to justify the trip. It was a home run.

Papal LibraryThe second time I saw the Pope was in his library, where he gave a message to all the bishops who had come for their ad limina visits.  The communications staff at the Vatican told us that when the Pope concluded his remarks, we were to pick up our gear and leave immediately.  We started to do that when I saw the Pope heading in my direction.  We spoke very briefly and that’s when I received a small, plastic sleeve with the Papal Seal on it.  Inside, was a set of rosary beads with a crucifix modeled after the processional cross, or crozier, that the Pope used.

You can watch the 1988, 30 minute documentary that we produced by clicking on this link. http://youtu.be/ERl9-Q4Nh9s

Family meets Pope, 2001The final time I saw the Pope in person was in 2001, this time with my entire family.  We had been vacationing in Rome and hoping for an invitation to the Pope’s morning Mass.  I checked but found we were not on the list.  We did take a spot in St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s General Audience on Wednesday, saw him at a distance and were content.

After a day of sightseeing, we returned to the apartment we were renting on Via Aurelia near the Vatican when we found an envelope that had been slipped under our door.  Inside was an invitation to a private audience with the Holy Father the next day.  The note said if we chose to accept, we needed to call a phone number to confirm with a Sister.  I was on the phone within seconds, and was told to wear a dark suit, and that my wife and daughters were to wear modest dresses, but not to wear white; that color was reserved for the Pope.

The next morning, we brought our passports to the guards at the “Bronze Doors” of the Apostolic Palace and were soon guided through a maze of long ornate hallways and magnificent staircases.  The group of us, including families and dignitaries from all over the world, waited for our cue to enter the room where the Pope was seated.  We were told to approach, then kneel down for a blessing.  It turns out the platform on which we had to kneel wasn’t wide enough to accommodate all four of us.  I balanced on one knee on the far end, with my wife and daughters directly in front of the Pope.  He said something to us, handed us all rosaries as the official Vatican photographers took pictures and we were given our cue to leave.  My wife, realizing there was no way to straighten up, had to grab the arm of the Pope’s throne for support, hoping that Vatican Security didn’t jump in to intervene!

I wish I could tell you what the Pope said to us, but Parkinson’s had robbed him of his ability to speak clearly.  It didn’t matter.  We were in the presence of a saint and the ceremony this month just confirms what we already knew.




Record Cold Tonight

April 15th, 2014 at 5:39 pm by under Uncategorized

Heavy Rain, Storms

We saw an incredible amount of rain with last night’s storms. Pensacola set a rainfall record for the date with 4.01”. Several reporting stations in Baldwin County recorded over 8” of rain ! The highest total was 9.79” just north of Fairhope. Bayou LaBatre also saw high totals. Many streets were flooded and closed last night.

Record Cold

A much cooler air mass moved into our area behind the front. Afternoon temps struggled, only near 57 degrees in most places. We do expect record cold tonight. Some patchy frost is possible north of I-10, with light freezing temperatures possible up along US 84. The current record for Mobile is 37 degrees set in 2007, and the predicted low is 35. Pensacola, Evergreen and Destin will likely all set record lows tonight.

Warmer Trend

Daytime highs will recover on Wednesday with a high in the upper 60’s. We get even warmer on Thursday and Friday. A few showers are possible on Good Friday with a chance at 30 %. Easter Sunday looks mainly dry and warm.

Storms Tonight, Then Colder !

April 14th, 2014 at 3:02 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Heavy Rain, Storms

A weakening band of showers passed through much of the area this morning. This cooled down temperatures and has temporarily delayed the threat of stronger storms. Heavier rain and storms over southeast Louisiana are heading our way for this evening.

A flash flood watch is in effect, as we expect 2”-3” of rain tonight. Some storms may be strong to severe. The primary threat will be t-storm winds and hail. There is a very low tornado risk tonight. The surface front tracks across the area just after midnight tonight. Most of the rain will be over by daybreak Tuesday,

Lunar Eclipse

A total lunar eclipse will occur tonight, but will likely not be visible along the Gulf Coast due to significant cloud cover. The eclipse will begin after midnight and end by 4:00 AM. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in the earth’s shadow. The result is a red appearance.

Record Cold

A much cooler air mass blasts into our area behind the front. Tuesday’s highs will be near 60 degrees. We do expect record cold Tuesday night. Some patchy frost is possible north of I-10, with light freezing temperatures possible up along US 84.

Weekend Looking Good !

April 11th, 2014 at 4:34 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Great Weekend

More sunshine is expected this weekend, with very little chance of rain. Highs will once again be close to 80 degrees both Saturday and Sunday. Humidity will be a little higher at night.

Winds increase out of the south on Sunday ahead of the next cold front. This will make for rough surf and choppy conditions in the coastal waters. Pollen levels will remain high, especially on Sunday. Oak and grass pollen continues to be the main issue.

Next Week

Rain chances should hold off until Monday. Stronger thunderstorms are possible with this front. The next front clears Tuesday morning. Temperatures will be cooler again next week, especially by Tuesday and Tuesday night.

Warmer for the Weekend

April 10th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Warming Trend

Temperatures rebounded nicely today and will continue to stay warm into the weekend. Winds shifted out of the south this afternoon. We saw mid 70’s, blue skies, and plenty of sunshine. Rain stays out of the picture tonight. Lows will be in the mid 50’s for most locations. We hit 77 for a high on Friday with more sunshine!

Great Weekend

Highs will once again be close to 80 degrees by Saturday and Sunday. Winds increase out of the s’east on Sunday. Rain chances should hold off until Monday. The next front clears Monday night. Temperatures will be cooler again next week.

Cool Mid-Week

April 8th, 2014 at 3:09 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Evening Showers

A sharp upper trough is digging into our region this afternoon. Some very cold mid level air is swinging in with this upper level feature. Despite some rather dry air at the surface, we are seeing some showers form. A few rumbles of thunder are possible with the heavier downpours. Pea sized hail is also possible, but severe weather is not expected. Rain will end tonight, with lows in the upper 40’s.

Cool Wednesday

The northerly flow continues tonight and Wednesday keeping temperatures below average. Daytime highs are expected to be in the 70 degree range. We will see especially chilly readings Wednesday night with a low in the mid 40’s. Temperatures rebound by the end of the week and the weekend. Highs will once again be close to 80 degrees by Saturday and Sunday. Rain chances should hold off until Monday.

More Showers Tuesday

April 7th, 2014 at 3:44 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Storms Rolled Through !

Strong T-Storms moved through the forecast area late last night and early this morning. A number of warnings were issued. We had reports of flooding and wind damage, and one confirmed tornado near Evergreen. Trees were down in a number of areas including Daphne, Castleberry, Uriah, and Pensacola. Flooding was reported in Monroe County along AL 41 and AL 136. The storms moved east of our area by mid morning.

Temperatures will be in the lower 50’s tonight with clouds and a northerly breeze.

More Showers

A sharp upper trough swings through on Tuesday bringing another chance of showers. The best chance of rain comes in the afternoon and evening. Severe weather is not anticipated. The sun returns on Wednesday with highs near 70. We remain dry, with much warmer days to end the week.

Severe Risk Increased

April 6th, 2014 at 3:45 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Severe Risk Increased
The Storm Prediction Center has increased our risk of severe weather tonight and early Monday morning, particularly for the threat of tornadoes.
Most of our viewing area is included in the 10% risk zone for tornadoes. That doesn’t sound like a big chance, but we’re talking about tornadoes here. Because of that, the SPC added a black hatched area within that 10% risk area to denote that this is a significant chance of not just tornadoes, but strong EF 2+ tornadoes.

Atmospheric Conditions

Why the increased concern? Well we’re expecting discrete, supercell thunderstorms to form out ahead of the main line late tonight. These lone thunderstorms will be able to grow in a moisture-rich environment and strong low-level winds will create the shear to get them rotating. It’s these type of storms that are able to produce the strongest tornadoes, so that’s why the SPC is warning of EF 2+ tornadoes.

There is a limiting factor on the strength of these storms tonight and that is the overnight timing. The heating of the day will be gone and the atmosphere will be slightly more stable.


The stronger storms ahead of the main line could start building early this evening west of us and then move through the area during the overnight hours. A squall line will move through with the cold front itself early Monday morning just before or during the morning commute. We may see more severe weather with the squall line, but that would be mainly a straight-line wind threat.
After the squall line moves through Monday morning the rain will be done and conditions will improve as we go through the day.