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
  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Another Snow Record To Watch

    Its been a banner season for snow lovers out there and Monday’s snowfall was indicative of that.  What was interesting is that the 5.9 inches of snow that officially fell at the Quad Cities airport was the highest snowfall from one storm so far this winter season.  What has made this season so unique has been the constant barrage of disturbances that have been racing across Iowa and Illinois.  Most have been Clippers, where a few have been originating out […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    Hail To The Chief: We’ll Miss You Uncle Larry

    This was a bummer to hear about.  I learned that Larry Lujack, legendary “Superjock,” from Chicago, a Radio Hall of Famer and one of broadcasting’s all-time originals, has died of cancer at 73 on December 18.  An entire generation grew up listening to him , as did I. Every morning, I would enjoy a hardy breakfast with my family and at the same time listen to the news and of course, the weather on WLS Radio.  But, there was a segment […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Just A Cold Breath Away

    Do you ever wonder while being outside during these cold winter days that you can suddenly see your own breath?  When I was a kid, me and my friends would pretend to be these cloud-breathing dragons like Godzilla, a very popular science-fiction character back in my days.  So, why is it that you can see your breath when it’s cold outside but not the case when it’s warm or hot?  Believe it or not, there’s certainly isn’t anything magical about […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Final Meteor Shower Of The Year

    To all Sky Gazers out there.  We all can agree that Comet ISON’s final frontier came as a disappointment when it simply dissolved while passing around the Sun.  However, this doesn’t close the book on this year’s galactic events. We’re gearing up for the peak of this year’s annual Geminid meteor shower on the night of 13th and 14th of December.  The Geminids will radiate from the constellation Gemini, which promises a peak rate between 100-120 meteors per hour between […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: ISON’s Galaxy Ride Might Have Ended

    Sad news for star gazers around the world.  Comet ISON appears to have flown too close to the sun and broken up in its corona. Scientists had hoped that the comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system would be able to slingshot around the sun on Thanksgiving and emerge streaming a tail visible to the naked eye next month. But after NASA telescopes tracked the comet plunging into the sun’s corona, no evidence of it emerged on the […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Rare Tornado Outbreak Explained

    About half of the 80 tornadoes that struck the Midwest on Sunday, November 17, 2013 were reported in Illinois.

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: High Flying With Fillmore

    What a great visit!!  A big thank you to the wonderful kindergartners of Fillmore Elementary in Davenport.  Weather safety is a big deal with these young Flyers and are they so ready when those sirens go off.   Great questions!  Plenty of fun!!  Here are several picture from my visit.

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: A Chat With Some Proud Eagles

    What a great visit I had with the kindergartners of Eisenhower Elementary in Davenport.  Proud eaglets and very well behaved with some very good questions!  Thank you for a great visit!  Lets do it again!!

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Local Stargazers found ISON!

    Great to hear from Alan and Sara Sheidler!  They are part of a special group of die hard stargazers called the ‘Popular Astronomy Club’ located in Milan, Illinois.  They sent me a note and pictures from their latest meeting. Check it out! – – The Popular Astronomy Club met early on Sunday Nov. 3 and we were able to capture some pictures of Comet ISON at our dark sky site south of Milan.    At magnitude 8 it is somewhat […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Update on Comet ISON

    Stargazers!  I am keeping an eye on our latest comet that is already being monitored by a few high tech telescopes.  The Comet ISON remains a subject of fascination and anticipation, but will it still be an impressive comet for the casual viewer? Lets do the breakdown.  When the comet whips around the sun near the end of November, the comet side will be hit with an intense blast of solar heat. That could potentially lead to a spectacular eruption […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Clipper Could Bring First Potential Snow

    With all this polar chill ready to pour in, why not bring a little snow? Well then, that might be the case as an Alberta clipper scheduled to arrive by Tuesday will not only enhance the cold air in place but carry with it a narrow band of snowfall. Like all clippers they originate in Western Canada (Alberta) and quickly slide southeast across the Midwest, hence its name. Due to its speed, clippers are not noted in dumping a whole […]

  • James Zahara Weather Blog

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Big Chill Ahead

    WHAT A CHILL COMING OUR WAY.  Hope you have your autumn clothing attire ready to go.  Last week, I saw hints of this and its still in the cards for later this week. A big high off British Columbia and a building block over Greenland, drops the polar jet stream across the entire Midwest. The deepening trough will a create persistent northwest wind flow aloft.  This large buckle in the jet stream will steer air into the region from the Canadian […]


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