James is the Chief Meteorologist for Storm Track 8 and does forecasts weeknights on WQAD News 8.

James knew he would be a meteorologist from the time he was 8 years old. His mother would often find him on the roof of their Flossmoor, Illinois home during approaching severe weather events. James received his inspiration to become a meteorologist when the Chief Meteorologist for WLS in Chicago and founder of the Weather Channel Cable Network – John Coleman visited his class in grade school. James has never forgotten the impression John Coleman made on him as a child and has continued the legacy of his mentor by visiting more than 100 schools over the last 18 years with WQAD.

James received his meteorology degree from the University of Kansas in 1988. He began his broadcast career in 1988 as Chief Meteorologist at WOAY, the ABC affiliate in Beckley, West Virginia. In 1990, James moved to Huntsville, Alabama where he became the weekday meteorologist at the NBC affiliate, WAFF, Channel 48. During his time in Huntsville, Alabama, James worked with then Chief Meteorologist Bob Baron, who is now President and CEO of Baron Services – maker of the Baron Storm Warning System.

James came to WQAD in August of 1992 as the weekday meteorologist on GMQC. During his time at WQAD James has received meteorology seals from the American Meteorologist Society (1994) and the National Weather Association (2001). In July of 2007, James achieved his CBM. The Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) program, is given to meteorologists who have risen to a professional standard in broadcast meteorology and achieved a broader range of scientific understanding, especially with respect to environmental issues. The goal of the CBM program is to certify that the holder meets specific educational and experience criteria and has passed rigorous testing in their knowledge and communication of meteorology and related sciences.

James has also received several awards for his work on-air including the First Place award from the Illinois Associated Press – “Best Spot News” for coverage of the Fruitland Tornado in 2007. In 2008, he received first place in the Eric Sevareid Award for “Snow Desk”. “Snow Desk” was the first and only news team featuring James and Jim Mertens broadcasting live from an outdoor news set during the first major snowstorm of 2008.

James is involved in several charities throughout the Quad Cities including Gilda’s Club, Birdies for Charity, the Child Abuse Council, and the United Way. James and his family actively support the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the Humane Society, ASPCA, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.

James has been married to his lovely wife, Renee for more than fifteen years. They have one lovely daughter named Aviana who is an elite swimmer in the Midwest. James has run in the BIX each year and has run in six marathons. He has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and enjoys golf.


Recent Articles
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    Brighter skies ahead…tolerable temperatures, too

    Gray skies and a chilly breeze was the highlight of our day allowing temperatures to remain below freezing across the area.  Fortunately, some dryness will slowly pull in from the west resulting in skies to improve through the overnight hours.   Temperatures will respond with lows dropping around the mid to upper teens. On Wednesday some welcome sunshine returns as temperatures climb just above the freezing mark by that afternoon.  This will also mark the first day of several when […]

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    How Our Feathered Friends Survive These Cold Winter Days

    Do you ever wonder how birds - especially smaller birds - survive the cold winter?

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    Wind chilly air blowing in tonight

    The passage of this system will allow temperatures to drop quickly. Lows by sunrise will be right around the freezing mark of 32 degrees.  Breezy, too making the air even chiller. Quiet skies take over for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with highs ranging between 40 to 45 degrees. We’ll even bring back a bit more sun on Christmas Day ,too. Another system will bring more rain chances to the area starting Saturday before ending Monday evening.  What’s interesting […]

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    Where does the fresh fragrance of rain come from?

    No question. Last night’s rain was welcomed with open arms. You probably noticed a distinct aroma in the air during our well-overdue rain event. The actual ‘smell’ of rain outside and within. But what causes it? The smell of rain comes from several contributors. Plant oils, bacteria compounds and ozone. Thats right, ozone. News 8s own Jim Mertens brought this to my attention during our chat Live on air. He stated that the studio smelled like ‘ozone’. At first, I […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    Solutions For Those Pesky Gnats!

    The spring warmth has finally settled in. Neighbors working on their gardens, golfers adventuring on their favorite golf course and little league games in full swing. However, our recent rains has created a home for this seasoned insect.   You’ve seen them around recently.  Those pesky gnats! UGH!!! These annoying little gnats can really take away the joy of enjoying the great outdoors. If you encounter this recent flock of gnats then I have the solution or solutions for you. […]

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    Why the Northern Lights could be visible in the Quad Cities area

    There's a chance you could see the Northern Lights as we head into the weekend!

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    “Sun dogs” making an appearance in the winter sky

    Word has it they are called sun dogs because they follow the sun like a dog follows its master. But in this case we will be the ones getting the treat.

  • Shots of Cold Air To Get Much Colder Next Week

    Simply wind chilly!  That has been the highlight today as the departing clipper-like system draws down a cold and brisk wind from time to time.  This has held temperatures in the low to mid 40s throughout the entire day.  Sunshine is still expected to appear but not until later in the day. Winds will diminish tonight and with clear skies the cool air of today will be chilled with overnight lows in the upper 20s. Temperatures by Friday will moderate […]

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    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: What You May Not Know About The Equinox

    For the past several days you’ve been hearing about the Autumnal Equinox beginning at 9:29pm Central Time in the Quad Cities.  You might have learned that from pole to pole on our planet an ‘equal’ amount of daylight and nightlight takes over, right?  Well, lets check out Monday’s sunrise and sunset: SUNRISE:  6:49am;  SUNSET: 6:59pm. If you add it up that is 12 hours and 10 minutes of sunlight.  Well, let check the next day, Tuesday since that will be […]

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    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Latest Cold Not A Prelude To An Early Winter

    The latest summer killer came into play with all the right pieces fitting together at just the right time. The unseasonably cold air which was centered well north into Canada piggy-backed on a storm system that produced our recent soaking rains.  It has now centered across the Midwest and will keep our temperatures well below normal until we just about enter the following weekend.  That’s when I’m looking at daytime highs well into the 70s. The latest shivery weather doesn’t […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Cosmic Fireworks Ahead

    That’s right!  Keep your eyes to the night time skies as the peak of the Delta Aquarids meteor shower sweeps through our atmosphere tonight.  In fact,  these showers have been active for the past two weeks and will continue until August 23rd.  Fortunately, the moon has just entered the  ‘new’ phase, which means no moonlight to blotch out the view come tonight.  All it takes are your eyes and a good amount of patience, where upwards of 15 to 20 […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Viewer’s Personal Encounter With A Tornado

    When someone asks me ‘what is your biggest fear as the television meteorologist?’  My reply would be when a tornado is on the ground and is ready to impact to a small residential town in our viewing area.  Folks, My heart just drops, praying that families are heeding the warnings and taking immediate action.  Here is a great example of that. I received a letter from a gentleman that went through an experience just over a week ago that he […]

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