April 17, 1932
Well-known Alabama meteorologist J.B. Elliott was born on this day in Havana Junction in Hale County. Elliott was a forecaster for the National Weather Service (NWS) near Calera for 32 years, from 1957 to April 1989. The son of James and Alva Elliott grew up fascinated by weather and news reporting. Elliott’s father died in an industrial accident when he was 9, and he shared farm duties with his mother and sister. He built a home studio with a wooden microphone to practice delivering forecasts form day-old newspapers. His mother and Hale County High School teacher W.W. Duncan encouraged Elliott to pursue meteorology. He delivered a weekly weather briefing to the school’s science class. After graduating from high school, Elliot worked with a wholesale grocer in Bessemer and volunteered as a U.S. Weather Bureau cooperative observer. Because of a government policy to hire veterans before civilians, Elliott’s ambitions of joining the state weather bureau were delayed. Elliot’s practiced voice became familiar to those who tuned into the NWS broadcast. He documented damage from severe weather and led surveying efforts to classify tornadoes on the Fujita scale. In 1974, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Elliott a silver medal for lifesaving and protection of property. Elliott retired from the NWS in 1989, and worked for the Weather Company until 2014. He was a frequent guest on James Spann’s weekly “WeatherBrains” webcast and on the Alabama WX Weather Blog.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.