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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
  • 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 […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Cold Air Funnels Possible Today

    If you noticed in my local forecast, scattered showers are expected today, but with a twist.  With the right ingredients in place, a couple of cold air funnels may occur. So what are cold air funnels? They form beneath showers when the air aloft is especially cold. These funnels occur when the air near the surface is warm enough to lift, causing convection to bubble up and form showers. These conditions are even ripe enough to produce some pea-size hail, […]

  • Severe Weather Over; Rain Chance Continues

    The sluggish low pressure which has left some hefty rainfall amounts of late will move across the two state the next several days. During this period, widely scattered showers will be expected as the pool of cold air aloft will keep the weather unsettled right through Thursday.  Fortunately, not enough instability to return any threat for severe weather as that has shifted well off to the east. This will also chill our temperatures as we end the old month and […]

  • Nicest Day Heading Into The Weekend

    Brighter, drier and warmer. That pretty much sums up how we plan on ending this work week.  The departure of the rains from yesterday has allowed a surface pressure ridge to skirt just to our south providing a warmer westerly flow of air.  So warm that temperatures should be in striking distance of reaching 70 later this afternoon. We’ll trim temperatures just a bit on Saturday as a southbound front will slide in dry providing a more easterly wind.  Highs may not […]

  • Showers Looming Out To The West

    Looks like we’ll squeeze out one more dry day before conditions get soggy once again. High clouds moving across our skies are part of our next weather system that will bring the next round of showers to the area.  Add an easterly breeze and daytime highs will be pleasantly cool with temperatures around 60 degrees. The rain event will come in two parts.  The first will push in this near evening with the second wave arriving before sunrise, Thursday.  This coverage will overspread the […]

  • Shower Chances Return This Week

    After basking in one of the warmest Easters in a while comes a cycle of rain and a slight cool down in temperatures during this week. This transition begins with the passage of a cold front today, which will be accompanied by showers and a few thunderstorms. Even with the raindrops arriving, temperatures will reach the lower 70s. The departure of the front this evening will lead to skies clearing and the mercury falling into the 40s overnight. Don’t get […]

  • Noticeably Warmer This Weekend

    Seasonal temperatures on this Good Friday will get even warmer for the rest of the holiday weekend. We’re starting off in the 30s this morning but that will be short lived as April sun combined with the drier air to work should be enough to pop those temperatures around the 60 degree mark. Warmer winds will be more noticeable Saturday as a system pulling into the Northern Plains provide a return flow out of the southwest sending temperatures around 70 degrees.  […]

  • Pleasant Still; Warming This Holiday Weekend

    Temperatures these next couple of days will be a shade cooler before we blow in some much warmer air in time for the rest of the holiday weekend. Dry front passing by will not only carry with it plenty of high clouds from time to time but a much lighter wind out of the west.  It will aid in only dropping temperatures a wee bit with afternoon highs around the mid 50s. By tonight, more clouds riding behind the departing […]

  • Warmer Winds On Your Wednesday

    The chilly spring air of late takes a back seat for today as we try to push temperatures close to more seasonal spring conditions. An upper Plains low will slowly steer eastward sending a breezy south wind ahead of it.  This should warm numbers around the 60 degree mark by later this afternoon under mostly to partly sunny skies.  These warmer winds will have gusts close to 40 mph. As the system’s core pulls into the Great Lakes, more clouds will […]

  • Sunshine At Times; Still Chilly

    Its a cold morning out there with the mercury in the 20s for many hometowns.  Highs pressure ridge will keep skies bright at times, which should be enough to put a small dent into the chilly air.  With that, afternoon highs will reach the lower 40s.  Thats a good 15 degree below the norm for this time of year. We’ll see temperatures get much closer to normal by tomorrow as a surface low across the Upper Plains returns the winds out of the […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Celestial Event On Tuesday

    Stargazers! Another celestial event is just days away! During the early morning hours of April 15th comes the first of two lunar eclipses this year to pass through our skies. While lunar eclipses may not be as impressive as a solar eclipse, they’re still pretty cool. Here’s the breakdown: The celestial shadow starts just after 12:58 am on Tuesday.  The moon will begin to pass through the penumbra, the part of Earth’s shadow where the sun is only partially blocked […]

  • Shower Possible Later Today

    Our string of 60 degree plus temperatures will stay intact for today as well as the next couple of days to follow.  Temperatures are starting off noticeably warmer compared to yesterday morning temperatures starting off at or below freezing. Broken cloudiness moving in from the west is associated with a weak boundary.  Moisture still appears to be limited and given how dry the air is at the surface, shower activity later today looks light and widely scattered.Steering winds will then shift […]


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