A good article in today’s Huntsville Times about Dan Satterfield, Chief Meteorologist at my old station WHNT-19.
They got the slug right, or the name of the article: “Love him or hate him, he’s changed local weather forecasting”. Written by Mike Marshall who appears to have shadowed Dan during a recent outbreak of bad weather, Mike has captured the passion of (I hope I don’t upset anyone with this) the best meteorologist I have seen work.
Dan came to Huntsville when I was anchoring there in the mid-90s. I had seen his work before at WBRC in Birmingham. Back then Dan was on the weekends and the station hired him to replace Tim Simpson, who had left the valley to return closer to home at WREG in Memphis.
Dan didn’t take long to grab the attention of every viewer in North Alabama. He is the first, and maybe only meteorologist that I knew of to call and cancel his own tornado warnings. The National Weather Service either didn’t call ’em fast enough or call ’em off fast enough for Dan. He caught some flak early on, but Paul Harvey once applauded him on his radio show.
I talked to Dan quite a lot back in my days in Huntsville. I found his interest and energy and intelligence when it came to weather fascinating. One day I remember sitting back in his weather office talking about what the news department might expect with some approaching bad weather. Sharing a cup of coffee, Dan caught the radar out of the corner of his eye and flew into action. In a matter of seconds, Dan had identified a ‘hook echo’, called master control and gone on the air with a “tornado warning”. The NWS followed about 2 minutes later.
But just as he is quick to warn, he’s also first to let people know when they can breathe again. He’ll give the ‘all-clear’ a few minutes before the NWS when a storm has passed by.
Some criticize Dan saying he loves the spotlight and loves to be ‘on tv’. I can understand how they might think that, given his excitement when bad weather hits. But I’ve never thought Dan is the type to be hungry for attention. He’s hungry to predict the weather, and he’s darned good at it. I’ve worked with some terrific weather people, but I can honestly say (and with apologies to Tim, Ted K, Austin, James Paul, Todd and the new folks I’m getting to know in Nashville) Dan Satterfield is tops in my book.
But he stinks at fantasy baseball.