TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Jan. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® today announced the five finalists selected for the FLASH 2019 National Weatherperson of the Year Award, an annual honor recognizing an outstanding weatherperson for leadership in promoting disaster safety and resilience.
The five finalists were selected from a field of 70 nominations made through an online Facebook poll. The top five nominees demonstrated leadership during the 2018 historic weather and disaster season as well as year-round contributions to disaster safety and resilience overall.
The five finalists listed in alphabetical order include:
1. Jeff Lindner, Meteorologist – Harris County Flood Control District
Mr. Jeff Lindner is a native Houstonian and graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology. He began working with the Harris County Flood Control District in 2003 as a meteorologist.
Mr. Lindner's steady, straight advice to citizens as the flood waters rose during Hurricane Harvey empowered informed decision-making on whether to evacuate, and how to survive what has been described as "biblical flooding."
He was so instrumental in guiding citizens through Hurricane Harvey that Mayor Sylvester Turner declared May 2 as "Jeff Lindner Day" in Houston. A grateful public set up a GoFundMe account to finance a vacation for Jeff who promptly donated the funds to help flood victims.
2. Dr. Matthew Sitkowski, Executive Weather Producer – The Weather Channel
Under Dr. Matthew Sitkowski's leadership, The Weather Channel implemented immersive mixed reality (IMR) technology in its broadcasts and by doing so, they were able to clearly illustrate the risks posed by various weather phenomena, while sharing critical information about how people can stay safe.
This cutting-edge technology was most impactful during Hurricane Florence, a storm that brought life-threatening flood waters and storm surge to the Carolinas. During the storm, Dr. Sitkowski led a team of meteorologists, on-camera talent, and graphic artists to produce an IMR segment that demonstrated the impact of storm surge as never before.
This IMR demonstration went viral as a critical new way to get the information out about storm surge, which accounts for roughly 50% of deaths during tropical cyclones.
The IMR technology was also used to demonstrate additional natural disasters including the wildfires that plagued California, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms. Dr. Sitkowski even worked with experts at Sesame Workshop, to develop an outreach series of videos featuring meteorologists and Elmo to help children understand severe weather, ensure that they're not afraid of it and know how to stay safe.
3. Tom Skilling, Chief Meteorologist – WGN-TV Chicago
For 40 years, Tom Skilling has consistently provided in-depth coverage of significant weather impacting the third largest metropolitan area in the U.S. not only on the air, but through social media and the Chicago Tribune.
Mr. Skilling has established himself as a respected meteorologist both locally and nationally, known for his in-depth reports, enthusiasm, and use of state-of-the-art technology. Mr. Skilling hosts the renowned severe weather conference, Tornado and Severe Storms Seminar at Fermilab. As host of the event, Mr. Skilling welcomes the 'who's who' in the severe weather research and forecast community, including famed University of Chicago tornado researcher Dr. Ted Fujita. The Fermilab seminars have been attended by thousands and streamed online to provide critical education and disaster resilience information.
Mr. Skilling has been awarded with three honorary doctorates from Lewis University, St. Mary's of Minnesota, and Aurora University.
4. James Spann, Chief Meteorologist – ABC 33/40 & Host, WeatherBrains
James Spann has served as the Chief Meteorologist for ABC 33/40 since 1996. He has received numerous awards for broadcast meteorology including, "Broadcaster of the Year" by the National Weather Association; AMS (American Meteorological Society) "Award for Broadcast Meteorology"; and received an Emmy Award for best television weather anchor in the Southeast U.S. from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Spann was also elected to the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in 2013. Essentially, it is the ultimate Emmy Award. It represents outstanding achievement spanning at least 25 years in the broadcast industry with a proven record of mentoring and community involvement. In 2001, James received another Emmy for live coverage of the deadly tornado which hit Tuscaloosa on December 16, 2000.
He is also the Host of WeatherBrains, a weekly 90-minute netcast that's all about weather, delivered on a variety of audio and video platforms. The show unites weather geeks worldwide and covers the world of weather on a fun and interactive platform. The WeatherBrains team has produced more than 400 shows to date.
Weatherboy is the cumulative effort of a team of people from Miami to Denver to Hawaii who are passionate about connecting people with the world of weather. You can find Weatherboy on television, radio, in print, or online.
While he appears online as a happy-go-lucky young weather enthusiast, he is very serious about the weather. The well-known Weatherboy character has roots to one of our founding meteorologists, made famous on national television in the 1990s. Since then, Weatherboy has appeared on countless television and radio programs.
By the time Hurricane Irene traveled up the U.S. east coast in 2011, Weatherboy's Facebook presence became a significant player in the weather news space. By the time Hurricane Sandy approached the same area the following year, Weatherboy's presence as a major force in the meteorology space was cemented.
Weatherboy continues to leverage new technology to connect with audiences. Whether it's a sizeable presence with Snapchat or an audience that watches live streams from their aerial photography drones, they are committed to connecting people of all ages with valuable, actionable weather information.
Past National Weatherperson of the Year Award winners include:
- 2014 – Jim Cantore, On-Camera Meteorologist and Co-Host, "AMHQ" - The Weather Channel
- 2015 – Max Mayfield, former National Hurricane Center Director & Hurricane Specialist - WPLG-TV
- 2016 – Alex Garcia, Chief Meteorologist - KABB-TV
- 2017 – Dr. Richard Knabb, Hurricane Expert & Tropical Program Manager - The Weather Channel
- 2018 – Ada Monzón, Meteorologist, AMS Fellow - CBM-WIPR-TV Puerto Rico
The 2019 winner will be announced on Friday, February 1 ahead of National Weatherperson's Day. He will be featured on the National Weatherperson of the Year Facebook page and win a complimentary trip to the National Disaster Resilience Conference as well.
The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) is the country's leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters. The FLASH partnership includes more than 100 innovative and diverse organizations that share a vision of making America a more disaster-resilient nation including: BASF Corporation, FEMA, Florida Division of Emergency Management, Huber Engineered Woods, International Code Council, National Weather Service, Portland Cement Association, Simpson Strong-Tie, State Farm, and USAA. In 2008, FLASH, and Disney opened the interactive weather experience StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes, in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Learn more about FLASH and access free consumer resources by visiting www.flash.org, calling toll-free (877) 221- SAFE (7233), following @federalalliance on Twitter, on Facebook.com/federalalliance, and the FLASH blog – Protect Your Home in a FLASH.
SOURCE Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)