Wes Wyatt knew he wanted to be a meteorologist when he was just a kid. In fact, he remembers his elementary school teachers saying that they couldn’t get him to pay attention because he was looking out the window watching the weather. “I was fascinated by weather at a young age,” Wyatt said. “All of my childhood friends would tell you that Wes always wanted to be a weatherman.”
Today Wyatt serves as the Chief Meteorologist for WBRC Fox 6 in Birmingham, where he understands how important it is to provide resources to a community that knows first-hand how severe weather can change lives.
Finding his Path. Wyatt’s journey to the Magic City began as a youngster in southern Tuscaloosa, where he graduated from Hillcrest High School and then attended Mississippi State University to pursue his dream of being a meteorologist. After graduating with a degree in broadcast meteorology, his first job in the field was in Meridian, where he rose to the position of Chief Meteorologist for WTOK-TV; his years there, he said, provided him with wonderful training and a quality work environment. But, when he got a job offer from his hometown of Tuscaloosa, he jumped at the chance to come back to Alabama.
He returned to Tuscaloosa and served as Chief Meteorologist for seven years at WVUA-TV on the University of Alabama campus. “When the University called and asked me to come to their new station at the college, I jumped at the chance,” he recalled. “It was a blessing and rarity to work where you’re from,” he said, adding, “To have the opportunity to cover the weather in the area where I grew up was something I never imagined I’d get to do. There was a great sense of comfort getting to be there again.”
According to Wyatt, that career move to Tuscaloosa paved the way for many blessings to come–something that, he said, is evidence of God working in his life. On his first full day back in Tuscaloosa, Wyatt met his wife, Nicole. “The good Lord has a path laid out for us,” he explained. “In my situation, I enjoyed where I was but when I decided to move back God revealed that there was a plan for me. I was introduced to my wife when I moved back, and then things went a new way. And then the opportunity to come to Birmingham was opened. It could only be laid out by God.” Wyatt moved to Birmingham in 2010 and served first as the Fox affiliate’s weekend evening meteorologist and severe weather analyst before moving into his current position as chief meteorologist.
Experience with Severe Weather. Wyatt’s time in Tuscaloosa–both during his growing-up years and during his time as a meteorologist in town– gave him a new understanding of the important role meteorologists have for communities, as he witnessed a number of devastating weather events. He still vividly recalls the landfall of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the blizzard of 1993 (the unprecedented “storm of the century” that dumped at least 17 inches of snow in the area). “Seeing those events, and then just experiencing snow as a child in Alabama sparked my imagination about weather,” he said.
After experiencing the outbreak of deadly Alabama tornadoes in 2000 early in his career (and seeing it strike Hillcrest Place in Tuscaloosa where he grew up), Wyatt was especially affected by the reality of a meteorologist’s impact. “Seeing that devastation showed the significance of my job to me,” he said. “I have a responsibility as a meteorologist. What we do is important because it helps to save lives.”
As the years have gone by, Wyatt has continued to see the dangerous impact of severe weather on Alabama and specifically the Birmingham area. The deadly and unprecedented spate of tornadoes on April 27, 2011, made a huge impression on Wyatt and others in the weather industry–and reminded him of why he does what he does. “It always amazes me when you think you’ve seen it in all with mother nature, and then you see something like April 27,” he said. “I never thought I’d see something like it.”
In his current role at WBRC Fox 6, Wyatt leads a team of six at a station that broadcast 60 hours of news a week. His job is to manage the team of meteorologists during “normal” and severe weather coverage (which includes television coverage, and various social media platforms), and to be the face of the station in the community. Community engagement is vitally important to his work, and Wyatt enjoys serving the Birmingham area through both his presence on television and his appearances at schools, weather events, and other places where he can share the importance of weather awareness. “We really focus on being true, timely, and accurate,” Wyatt said. “I want my viewers to take comfort in knowing that I’m the guy who is looking at the radar, looking at all the data. I’m there on TV to give you the information you need.”
Residents of Alabama, he said, have a unique relationship with the weather because of the severe weather they experience. He said, though, that it’s important to not get complacent. “We are very aware and well educated about weather in Alabama,” he said. ‘It’s important to remember that this time of year is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.” Wyatt said that September and October present specific weather concerns from the hurricane season; there are risks along the coast, and risks upstate from such things as wind gusts, excessive rain, and spin-off tornadoes. “People underestimate the rain that can come with tropical storms,” he stated. “Rain and storm surging can cause the most deaths.” During this and all other times of the year, Wyatt said that Alabamians should check weather forecasts, plan ahead, know where a system is going, and stay tuned to the weather. Keeping backup batteries for flashlights and having supplies in case of power outages are other important things to remember. “Emergency situations can come up,” he said. “It’s better to be prepared.”
Faith in Times of Trouble. Wyatt said that weather situations can reveal God’s goodness–something that, as a Christian, he values and recognizes. “Whenever a bad storm comes through, we stress prayer for the communities involved,” he said. “We witness so many times how it really makes a difference.”
Wyatt grew up in a Christian home and saw faith evidenced especially by his mother, who lost a battle with cancer when she was only 51 years old. “A spot was discovered on her lung, and it took doctors months to figure it out,” he said. “Melanoma had spread inside her body, and so many times she heard from the doctors that they couldn’t do anything. To see her going from being the mother we knew to someone who was in such pain…it was so hard.” Through it all though, Wyatt said that his mother evidenced the faith she had raised him and his brothers with. She got bad news “over and over again” and still never wavered from her faith. “She held onto her faith, and we saw what it meant to her and how it helped her get through every day,” he remembered. Today he still relies on her memory to inspire him to be strong in his own faith–and to be a testimony of it whenever he can.
According to Wyatt, he feels comfortable sharing his faith within his circle of influence and said he tries to stay true to it every day in his work with weather. “I’m firmly rooted in science, but I also know that there’s more to it than that,” he said. “I’ve seen the power of faith and belief and what it can do, so I find it very easy to share.”
Wyatt’s mother also influenced another important part of his life. She instilled in him a love of music—something he continues to do today as a songwriter and performing musician. “Mom sang in a gospel quartet, and then cousins and friends had a quartet,” he said. “I taught myself how to play guitar, my brother plays drums. I used to play every weekend in college, and while I’m busier now I still spend time doing it.” He continues to write music today and is also working on a book-length project. “If I come up with a cool idea, I tell myself ‘I need to write a song.’ It just flows from me,” he said.
Looking to the Future. Today Wyatt enjoys a full life with a gratifying career, an enjoyment of music and writing, and time with his wife and young son Landen. “My job really is my dream job. I grew up watching the station, and it’s sometimes hard to believe I’m working there now,” he said. “And Nicole is a wonderful wife. She understands the job and my responsibility.” Wyatt doesn’t know where else the future may take him, but he’s content with where God has led him thus far. “The Lord laid out things for me in ways I never imagined,” he said, “and I’m very blessed.”
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