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Mild Weekend Ahead

December 12th, 2014 at 4:32 pm by under Uncategorized

We saw some very chilly readings to start things out on your Friday, especially in the inland spots. Morning lows were at 40 in Mobile, 41 in Pensacola, and 33 in Evergreen. A few places north of I-10 were at or below freezing. Things moderated a bit in the afternoon with highs in the low to mid 60’s in most spots. Things turn cool again tonight. Most spots will be in the low 40’s, and above freezing.

It stays rain free both Saturday and Sunday, with clear skies. Highs will be in the mid to upper 60’s making for a comfortable weekend. Temperatures stay very warm into next week. We could easily hit 70 degrees by Monday and Tuesday. A weak front tracks through Monday night with a few scattered light rain showers. Significant rain is not expected until late next week.


Chilly Trend !

December 9th, 2014 at 6:06 pm by under Uncategorized

Things turned cooler early this week, with even chillier temps in the forecast. A reinforcing front swings through tonight, pushing lows into the upper 30’s.

We had a nice shot of the International Space Station Flying over at 5:17pm this evening. To see future viewing opportunities, check out: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings/

We also may get some good views of the Geminids Meteor Shower this weekend.

Temperatures will continue to trend a little below normal. We have a weak cold front passing through tomorrow evening. Daytime highs will be in the 50’s on Wednesday. Overnight lows will be in the 30’s through Thursday night, with a light freeze in the inland locations. High pressure keeps things sunny and cool into the weekend. Rain is not expected until early next week.

Facebook: Meteorologist Jason Smith
Twitter: @JasonSmithFox10


FOX10 in China

August 27th, 2014 at 7:59 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

After 30 years at FOX10/WALA, I’ve seen and been a part of a lot of fascinating stories.

One involved a 1986 trip to China, where reporter Carolyn Martin and photographer Robbie Chandler covered Alabama Governor George Wallace traveling to Wuhan on a trade mission.

China wasn’t as developed or open to Westerners as it is now, which makes this documentary even more interesting.

While Carolyn covered the Governor, she also ventured out to communicate with the folks on the street and children in the classroom.

I think it’s great TV, and hope you agree.

 


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.


Rain, Much Colder for Mardi Gras Day

March 3rd, 2014 at 3:10 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Uncategorized

Facebook: Meteorologist Jason Smith
Twitter: @JasonSmithFox10

Clearing & Colder

Winds shifted hard out of the north as the rain ended early this morning. We reached our daytime highs early in the day, and temps are now dropping into the upper 40’s late this afternoon. There is a huge difference in temperature across a short distance. At 2pm, Pensacola was at 57, while Hattiesburg reported 34 degrees ! Temperatures will turn quite cold tonight. Areas along and north of I-10 should see a light freeze. Both the GFS and the NAM are predicting 31 degrees for Mobile. Clouds will also be back on the increase late tonight.

Chilly & Wet Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is looking quite chilly, with the chance of a few showers. Morning Temperatures will gradually rise through the 40’s. We expect an afternoon high of 50 degrees. Rain chances are 30% from 10am-3pm, and jump to 50% by late afternoon. Chances become very likely (70%) after sunset.

Scattered Rain Lingers

Showers remain possible Ash Wednesday and into Thursday. The surface front remains stalled in the central Gulf. Waves of low pressure keep us in the chances for spotty light rain. Temps rebound by Friday and the weekend. Sunshine also returns Friday and Saturday. Sunday looks to be wet based on the long range forecast.


Throwback Thursday: Visiting the White House

February 27th, 2014 at 11:41 am by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Politics, Uncategorized

I’ve had the chance to see 4 Presidents in person:

  • Gerald Ford, when his campaign jet touched down at Bates Field in Mobile on a Sunday evening in September, 1976, bringing with him Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and Governor George Wallace.
  • Jimmy Carter, when I sat 2 chairs away from him in the Cabinet Room just off the Oval Office in the White House during a regional press briefing.
  • Ronald Reagan, during another regional press meeting, where I had lunch with him in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Full disclosure:  The President sat with news anchors from New York, Chicago, etc.  I sat so far away at the edge of the room I was almost on the South Lawn of the White House.)  I also saw Reagan when he came to Dothan in 1986 and brought down the house with his line about where to promote his tax reform act.  He said he found the answer in the Book of Genesis; “Let us go to Dothan”.
  • But the first (and so far) only President I’ve actually met and questioned at the White House was Bill Clinton, about 6 months into his presidency. See more of these images by going to my Facebook page, Bob Grip.
P05761_03A_21JUL1993_Hweb2

Courtesy: William J. Clinton Presidential Library

The other day, when I was going through a box of tapes, I found the old (1993) 3/4 inch cassette tape that contained a copy of my live reports and stories from that one day trip to Washington. Thanks to our chief engineer Roland Fields, we converted the stories from analog to video to share with you.

The big issues in 1993 – healthcare, taxes and military cutbacks – still sound familiar today. Add in some discussion of who would take the place of U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions, and hear about then-Democratic Senator Richard Shelby not getting along with the White House (did that make him a DINO?)  and you have a look back at life in southern Alabama in the early 1990s.

 

 

 

Backstories

  • At the time of Ford’s visit, we did not have the capability to go “live”.  We had to relay tapes back to the station downtown to get them on the air.
  • When entering the White House for the Carter visit,  I got through security easily but my photographer told the Secret Service he was there to “shoot the President”.  I understood he meant shoot him with the camera he brought with him, but you might say he was slightly delayed by agents.
  • There were Godiva chocolates on the table at the Reagan luncheon.
  • The day I was supposed to meet Clinton, I turned on the TV to see the news that one of his advisors, Vince Foster, had committed suicide overnight; we were told there was almost no chance of meeting Clinton that day. When we gathered in the Roosevelt Room, outside the Oval Office, we were greeted by Vice President Al Gore.  After a few questions, the door from the Oval Office suddenly opened and the President walked in. I have to admit I broke into a cold sweat when the President called on me for a question. It brought back memories of watching live, afternoon news conferences featuring President John F. Kennedy.  I never imagined at the time that I would have the chance to question a President of the United States someday. (I asked him about the recent closing of Mobile’s Navy Homeport, as you can see on the video.) It was truly an “Only in America” moment.
  • Photographer Al Tuggle and I had a satellite window to hit at 5 pm central time the day of the Clinton briefing, but the President was in no hurry to leave and it was protocol at the time (and may still be) that no one leaves before the President leaves.  As soon as he returned to the Oval Office, we bolted out of the White House to a parking garage where our rental car waited.  I hopped behind the wheel and sped down Pennsylvania Avenue to the news bureau near the Capitol building, jumped out of the car and ran up to the roof of the building where a camera crew was already waiting for me.  While Al found a place to park, I went on the air without a script with seconds to spare.  It was like a trapeze act without a net.  No one at home was the wiser.

Since then, I have tried without success to meet with both Presidents Bush, as well as President Obama.  Someday, perhaps…

 


Winter Storm Hits Gulf Coast

January 28th, 2014 at 1:05 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Uncategorized

frost_advisoryWinter Storm Update

Places along I-10 could see significant ice and sleet accumulations. Most of the snow should be in the inland spots. The most dangerous aspect of this event is the chance of freezing rain for our forecast area. This can result in hazardous travel and possible power outages. The models are suggesting a rather quick end to the precipitation event, with most of the sleet/ice falling today and tonight.

A Winter Storm Warning is up for our entire area through Wednesday morning. A strong surface cold front moved through last night, putting the cold air in place for a significant winter weather event. Temperatures are well below freezing along I-10 in Mobile and Baldwin counties as of this afternoon. Warm moist air is riding up and over the cold air, increasing the chances for mixed precipitation. Many areas will have to deal with sleet and freezing rain for a good portion of this event. Some inland spots will gradually transition to snow. Here is an in-depth look at the forecast:

Today

Sleet and freezing rain are a very likely scenario for places along I-10 on through the evening. Some areas in a line from Lucedale – Citronelle – Bay Minette – Atmore and north of there will see a mix of sleet and some snow as the day progresses. Temperatures south of I-10 may be just close enough to freezing to keep the roads in decent shape until nightfall. However, bridges and overpasses can be especially slick in areas where temperatures are in the upper 20’s or colder.

Tonight

Cold air will continue to advance into the area this evening. Some areas from Pascagoula to Mobile to Bay Minette will begin to transition to all sleet, while inland areas will see a good likelihood of snow. Coastal areas and the Panhandle will see freezing rain and sleet only. Areas like Mobile may see a brief transition to all snow by late evening. Most of the precipitation should be ending by 3am, with the exception of the Florida Panhandle. Travel is expected to be very dangerous in most locations tonight. Total ice accumulations could be greater than 1/2” in some areas. Inland spots could see 1”-3” accumulations of sleet and snow. Temperatures will drop into the upper teens by early Wednesday morning.

Wednesday

The precipitation should be over by Wednesday. Partly sunny skies and temps in the mid 30’s, should allow the road situation to improve somewhat during the day. Refreezing and black ice formation could be a big issue again Wednesday night as temperatures drop into the teens. A hard freeze is likely Wednesday night. Everything should be gone by Thursday as temps rise into the 50 degree range. The long range forecast for the weekend looks very mild.


This is a cold winter…

January 21st, 2014 at 3:10 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

Sure, winter is supposed to be cold, but this one seems colder than most.

This past weekend, I made a quick trip to Pittsburgh to attend a Board of Directors’ meeting.  I’m just glad I had a nice, warm winter coat.  I’m sorry I forgot my gloves, though!

BTW, those are deer tracks in the snow :)

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Rose Bowl 100

January 7th, 2014 at 11:16 am by under Uncategorized

Monday, January 6, 2014 was my first “official” day back to work after being off for the holidays.  Oh, and I also went to the ROSE BOWL!!!  Clearly, I am still gleaming from my trip to Pasadena.

photo 1

Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize how fortunate I am.  I mean it’s not every day that your school’s team gets invited to play in the Rose Bowl.  In fact, it’s been 26 years since Michigan State last played there.

I didn’t go to a lot of games throughout my college years.  There just wasn’t any time between all the internships, working full-time, being a full-time student, and running the university housing channel.  But I more than made up for the lost time with this experience.  I had the time of my life!

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photoAnd to think I almost didn’t make it there.  Travel was just a nightmare.  There were delays coming and going to California because of the arctic air.  I met a fellow Spartan in Los Angeles who had traveled from Michigan.  Her flight was more than two hours delayed from Detroit!  I was coming from Mobile.  So while the weather wasn’t an issue in the Port City, the backlog from other flights along the East Coast was.

I flew out on New Year’s Eve.  I didn’t land at the LAX airport until 11:58 p.m.  I had to ring in 2014 with more than 2.6 million other passengers, according to Los Angeles World Airports.  It was definitely a stark difference from the last 10 years or so of celebrating the night with my husband—who’s a New Year’s Eve baby.

Tickets to the game weren’t cheap.  We paid $650 for those seats. But they were right in the end zone!  The cost of being at that game was priceless.

I still can’t believe my Michigan State Spartans won the Rose Bowl, and I was there to watch it all happen!   It was an experience that I will never forget.  No amount of words or pictures can do it justice.

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I just remember walking to our seats.  We kept going down, and down, and down the rows—looking at each other with each step.  Each time we got closer to the field we screamed.  When we finally made it to our row, row “G,” we started jumping up and down!  We were just five rows up from the field!!!  Needless to say, we were ecstatic!

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I searched high and low for Michigan State gear, but all of the vendor stands at the stadium were sold out. That certainly matched the enthusiasm of Michigan State fans at the game, too.  Spartan Nation was so pumped and simply silenced the Stanford people.  It’s probably why they brought out the riot gear toward the end of the fourth quarter and only on the Michigan State side.  From what I could see, everyone kept their cool, so the riot gear wasn’t necessary.

I was only in California for three days.  In addition to the game, I also managed to take a mini-tour of the wine country.  It’s amazing what a beautiful country we have.  I went to a city outside Santa Ana called Los Olivos.  The rolling hills among the vineyards are just breathtaking.

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A girlfriend of mine who lives in LA is a producer on a sitcom starring comedian Tim Allen, called Last Man Standing.  She was kind enough to give me a tour of the studios.  So I got to see the other side of TV—the entertainment aspect.  It was pretty cool.

CBS Studio Centerphoto 3

By the way this entire blog was written by voice control.  So if there are any typos or grammatical errors, blame Siri (LOL).   Man I love technology.  I also love those Michigan State Spartans!  Go green.

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