2013 Christmas Letter

I like getting long letters from friends and family members talking about their year. If you hate those letters, stop reading this. You’ll hate it.

This year I thought I’d answer the 2 most common questions I get: how’d all this start and how’d you get here? (Third: Do you ever sleep?) 

None of this was planned. It just happened.

Around Christmas, 2010, I was using a dumbphone to answer friends’ text messages about severe and winter weather. Remember those phones? To type an “E”, you had to press 3 twice. Messages took forever to type. There was no cut/copy/paste function, and I was often repeating myself.

So I told our friends I’d put the info on my personal Twitter account.

By February, 2011, I changed my personal account to @NashSevereWx. My friends told their friends about it, and we hit 100 followers.

Kelton Halbert — in high school at the time, now a meteorology major at OU — helped set me up technically.

Erik Proseus (@memphisweather1) did more than open my eyes to the world of NWSChat; he showed me how to do weather-via-social-media in Tennessee. He’s the father of weather via social media in Tennessee.

On July 7, 2011, y’all tweeted me several photos of a flash flood occurring in Cool Springs, from which our relationship with the National Weather Service in Nashville was born. From that came #tSpotter.

Not long after, I noticed Will, who was monitoring scanner traffic for severe weather reports, then tweeting it. We had lunch at The Corner Pub in Nashville. This account has been a team effort ever since.   

Along the way, things I’ve never imagined could happen have happened. I’ve had a discussion at a restaurant with Darrell Waltrip about @NashSevereWx. I’ve met weather legend James Spann (@spann) and been a guest (twice) on his podcast WeatherBrains. Our NWS presented us a Service Improvement Award. I’ve twice been on NPR, and Will and I have been written about in several local and regional newspapers. Jon Acuff (@jonacuff) invited me on stage during his Quitter conference to speak. We’ve appeared in the Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville. I’ve met many of you for lunch and coffee.

I’ve had the privilege to see Eric (@RuthSevereWx), Chris (@WilsonSevereWx), and Clint (@RobCoSevereWx) faithfully serve their counties. We saw Alys (@SumnerSevereWx, now @LexSCwx) move to South Carolina, but graciously leave her account in the capable hands of Charles (@SumnerSevereWx & @MaconSevereWx). I’ve seen the men and women at our NWS Nashville work — without pay — during the government shutdown. 

On New Year’s Eve 2012, @NashSevereWx hit 10,000 followers. As I type this, we’re at 19,837. 

On March 24, 2013, we relaunched the blog. In June, The Intern (@yakishk, a senior broadcast meteorology major at Mississippi State) joined. Together, we’ve published 359 posts. Yasser has done good work, and we expect this summer he’ll have a paying weather gig and won’t have time for us anymore. In 9 months, NashSevereWx.com has had 37,547 unique visitors (55% men, 77% of us 18-44 y/o), 142,692 visits, and 317,279 page views. The Intern is mostly responsible for this.

This costs us time, it costs us sleep, and it can put a burden on our families. Will and I are lucky men to have the support, encouragement, and patience of our lovely wives.

All along the way, at every step, you have sent “thanks” and other notes of encouragement and gratitude. It’s a wonderful thing when someone tells you “thanks” for doing something you love to do.

I don’t understand how anyone can see the world around us without feeling incredibly small, amazingly powerless, totally vulnerable, yet mysteriously and unconditionally loved by our Creator.

Merry Christmas.