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James is the Chief Meteorologist for Storm Team 8 and does forecasts weekday mornings on Good Morning Quad Cities.

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. 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 thirteen 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
  • Summer Makes Another Surge

    The pleasant weather of late will get much warmer in the days ahead as we monitor our next round of wet weather. The A/C shouldn’t be a factor tonight as mostly clear skies combined with very little wind should easily drop temperatures near 60 degrees. Here comes summer again.  These next couple of days warmer winds return out of the south sending daytime highs around the mid 80s Wednesday to around 90 by Thursday.  In this transition of temperatures might […]

  • 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 […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Polar Vortex Back In The News

    Questions and queries are already surfacing regarding this unseasonably cool shot of air for next week and its sign that the dreaded ‘Polar Vortex’ is going to put an end to our summer and quickly return an early fall and winter. Lets first talk about next week. No doubt, its an impressive dip in temperatures starting on Tuesday where afternoon highs that day may not even reach the 70 degree mark for many of our hometowns. However, its not unusual. […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Future Chasers From Wildcat Country

    Back on the road again to Wildcat country and Galva Elementary.  School may not be in session quite yet but their summer program is, and its right up my alley.  Check out our future chasers! Now, I didn’t stress to them to go out on their bikes and start chasing storms. I think they would lock me up and throw away the key.  I can confidently say that they know their weather especially when it comes to weather safety.  As […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Definitions Of Summer

    On Saturday at 5:51am CDT the astronomical summer begins for the Northern Hemisphere.  But most would agree, summer started weeks ago.  Get this, did you know there are several different ways to classify the summer season?  We know about the astronomical season but there’s also the solar and the meteorological. When I brought up this question to some of my recent school visits, the students preferred the longest season of the three. Unlike the astronomical season, which is determined by […]

  • A Mix Of Summer Weather Ahead

    An absolutely spectacular day to end the work week will extend overnight into Saturday before the next round of storm weather moves in. The Canadian surface ridge sitting right on top of us will provide another cool night as the mercury will slip back down into the lower 50s. The core of this ridge will crawl just to the east of us blowing our winds more out of the south. This should quickly warm our temperatures just over 80 degrees […]

  • Weekend Not A Total Washout

    Slightly warmer but conditions today remained quite comfortable as daytime highs topped over 80 degrees.  This will set the stage for another night with overnight lows just over 60 degrees. This dry bubble of air controlled by a surface ridge will drift further east allowing the next weather system to push in from the Plains.  Clouds will be increasing during our Saturday, which will bring a scattered coverage of showers along with a couple of thunderstorms during the afternoon hours. […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: School Visit to Maple Leaf Country

    A BIG THANK YOU to the 3rd Graders at Millikin Elementary in the wonderful town of Geneseo.  Great questions and fun, fun, fun on the weather trivia.  Thanks to all the 3rd Grade teachers including Ms. Kim Farber in setting the whole visit up.  Lets do it again in the fall!!!

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: New Meteor Shower Tonight

    An exciting new meteor shower called the Camelopardalids (Cah-melo-par-dah-lids) will peak late tonight.  According to clocks the mid-latitudes in North America are predicted to have the best view of this shower.  Look to the north.  The showers will come out of the Camelopardalis or Giraffe constellation where the radius of the event will take place.   This meteor shower stems from Comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered in 2004.  Its fairly new because its tail hasn’t been able to make a full impact […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Those Pesky Gnats Are Back!

    Neighbors working on their gardens, golfers adventuring on their favorite golf course and little league games are in full swing. Spring warmth has definitely returned, and then some. I say that because what has also made an appearance during our outdoor activities has been those pesky gnats! UGH!!! Just had one get caught in my eye while doing an interview at a recent golf course. If you encounter the recent flock of gnats then I have the solution or solutions […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Fulton Steamers Visit WQAD

    Usually I’m the one who makes my special journey to a favorite school visit in and around the News 8 viewing area.  But this was a nice change of pace as I was welcomed by over 60 4th Grade Little Steamers from the wonderful town of Fulton, Illinois. Check them out!   They were able to check the ins and outs of how successful newscasts are put together,  including how we present the weather on the infamous green screen.  We […]

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