Snow, rain or sun? Elijah Kirby knows


By DAVID MELSON – [email protected]

That’s the talk of the town – the snow and ice that have blanketed Bedford County for the past few days.

But Elijah Kirby’s “Shelbyville Weather” Facebook page may be in second place.

Shelbyville Weather – which has expanded to cover Coffee County as well – gives readers almost a glimpse of the weather in and out, whether it’s severe thunderstorms, frozen precipitation, or even clear, warm days. .

The site is approaching its third anniversary this spring, and Kirby says the most exciting moment was last year’s snowstorm.

Perfect thunderstorm

“My most exciting moment with Shelbyville Weather, so far, must certainly be the snowstorm we had in February 2021. Not to be confused with our devastating ice storm, our snowstorm brought an expanse of 4 to 6 inches in the area, and I got to see so many pictures of people building snowmen and playing in the snow. Apart from that, our predictions also came true perfectly. We all know how complicated winter systems can be in Middle Tennessee, so when we nail a good winter storm forecast to our heads, it’s always a good thing! “

The defining moments of the site may be the live coverage of severe weather events. Kirby is put into service when more severe storms strike and stays on until they pass – or the power goes out.

“In severe weather, I go to our page and do live weather coverage. It’s a lot easier than posting radar updates, and people can watch as the storm passes over their homes, ”Kirby said. “Our live broadcasts are a wonderful service to our communities, until an unexpected power outage disconnects us. I have had many live broadcasts interrupted during severe weather coverage because our electricity is cut due to high winds. Fortunately, I am working on a solution and hope that when we have our next powerful storm system, I can stay online without interruptions.

The site is growing

Kirby, 19, lives in Normandy and is majoring in meteorology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He hopes to eventually become a forecaster for the National Weather Service.

“I founded Shelbyville Weather on Facebook in May 2018,” Kirby said. “I started out thinking this would be a page small enough for family and friends to receive weather information regarding severe and winter weather. We really started to gain traction in February 2019, when most of Bedford County experienced heavy rains and flash floods. I believe we have reached 1000 subscribers from this event.

The site grew after this storm.

“Shortly after that, our family moved from Shelbyville to Normandy, and I decided in January 2020 to add Coffee County to our coverage area,” Kirby said. “As Normandy sits right on the county line, I thought this would be a great opportunity to reach new people and provide valuable service to some underserved communities. After that, Shelbyville Weather was going in leaps and bounds. “

As of this week, Shelbyville Weather has 12,500 followers and approximately 1,000 more on Twitter.

Shelbyville Weather has partnered with the National Weather Service’s Nashville office tspotter program following the winter storms of 2021.

“Last spring, after the winter storms of February 2021, the NWS of Nashville contacted us to enter into a special partnership through their tspotter program. This program brings together numerous hyper-local social media weather accounts from across Middle TN into a network, under the surveillance and communication of the National Weather Service. Special thanks to Sam Shamburger, the chief forecaster at NWS Nashville, for making this opportunity possible. “

Chase the storms

Local Storm Coverage keeps Kirby pinned to his computer, but he’s interested in storm chasing.

“I like chasing storms whenever I can. Due to the fact that I am broadcasting live during severe weather events, it is difficult for me to go out and chase storms. But, whenever I get the chance, I always love to go with me, ”Kirby said.

“It may surprise some, but I haven’t seen my first tornado yet. My dream was to go to Oklahoma and Texas to document low-precipitation supercells with photogenic tornadoes that don’t damage property. But, this opportunity has not presented itself yet, I hope to do so soon, however.

Surprisingly for a storm chaser who broadcasts live in severe weather, Kirby’s interest in meteorology developed from a fear of storms as a child.

“When I was younger, I absolutely hated anything to do with storms and inclement weather. Once I started to get older I started to understand a little more about the processes that create thunderstorms, it turned into a fascination, ”Kirby said. “I’ve been following the weather forecast closely since I was 7 or 8 years old, or even before.

Challenges

Kirby finds the weather forecast difficult but satisfactory.

“There are a lot of difficult aspects in forecasting. One of the hardest parts of forecasting, however, should be how much uncertainty will follow any storm you forecast. Will storms really form? Will there be too much hot air and we will have rain instead of snow? Every forecast is uncertain. But the key is to stay confident and face uncertainty, ”Kirby said.

“I’m grateful to have the NWS, weather models and local meteorologists in Nashville helping me put my forecast together. The night before a storm I’ll stay awake and check the weather at each station to see what they have to say. It is always important to get the opinion of other people when making a forecast.

Kirby uses RadarScope, professional weather radar software, to track storms; data from weather stations at NWS airports in Shelbyville and Tullahoma, which he said are “very important during winter weather configurations,” a system that automatically displays NWS watches and warnings as soon as they are issued, and the Pivotal Weather website for the computer model Data.

Many of Kirby’s articles include RadarScope images.

Future plans

Although Kirby presents himself in live broadcasts during Storms as calm, calm, and professional, TV weather is not in his plans.

“When I tell people I’m going to school to be a meteorologist, they automatically think I want to work in the television industry. While some people are made for television, I am not, ”Kirby said. “I hope one day I will find myself in a National Weather Service office issuing forecasts and warnings. But, there are plenty of opportunities outside of the NWS and TV, including private business and emergency management, that I’m also interested in.

“I chose UAH specifically because it is close to where I live and because UAH has a wonderful weather program. UAH is a very research-oriented school, with plenty of opportunities to go out into the field and learn more about extreme weather and winter conditions than you ever would by looking at a textbook. Another advantage is that the national weather service is co-located in the same building as our weather service, so there are plenty of opportunities for internship and weather service support as well.

Kirby recently introduced $ 4.99 per month subscriptions to the site. Subscriptions do not replace the free data currently provided.

“In return, you get access to a special ‘subscriber’ badge on my page, as well as an exclusive Shelbyville Weather group,” Kirby said on the site. “In this group, I plan to post exclusive content such as model data and Q&A sessions.

“DON’T WORRY! I won’t change anything on my page. This is only an option if you choose to support me financially. I have worked a lot on this page and hope to satisfy you with good forecast and information.

Personal side

Kirby graduated from Shelbyville Central High School in 2021. He is the son of Zach Kirby, Minister of Music at First Baptist Church-Depot Street, and Jennifer Kirby, interventionist at East Side Elementary, and has a 5-year-old sister. years old, Alexandria. He works in the summers in a kayak rental company in Normandy. Other interests include online games and video trains.

The Shelbyville weather site has received many accolades recently, and Kirby appreciates each one.

“Shelbyville Weather has been a blessing to me,” Kirby said. “I love to use my talent and love of the weather to help others stay safe and informed. During the Tullahoma tornado in December 2021, I did a live broadcast covering the event. It was so rewarding and awesome to hear stories of people saying they knew how to get out of the storm when I called their street name. It shows how much even the smallest details can have an impact.


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