11Alive Hires Chief Meteorologist

12:36 PM, Jul 1, 2011   |    comments
Mike Francis, Meteorologist
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ATLANTA -- WXIA-TV announced Thursday morning that Mike Francis, Chief Meteorologist at KARK-TV in Little Rock, AR has been hired as the station's new weather chief. He is a highly experienced meteorologist with a background in storm chasing. He was in fact, an eyewitness to the most destructive tornado in the country's history in Oklahoma City. Overall, he has chased close to 50 tornadoes. He is also an army veteran, a member of the elite 82nd airborne division and has seen combat in both Panama and Iraq. Today, he's married and the father of three. He is looking forward to bringing his family to Atlanta, where he'll begin work in August.

"Weather is my lifelong passion and I am truly looking forward to bringing a unique style of doing the weather to 11Alive and the city of Atlanta," said Francis. 

Throughout his ten years in Little Rock, Mike has covered numerous tornado outbreaks and his coverage is credited with saving numerous lives in the winter and spring of 2008. He brings with him unique knowledge of storm behavior and tornado forecasting. 

Prior to KARK, Mike worked at the National Severe Storms Laboratory where he was able to conduct research on tornadoes with some of the world's leading meteorologists. He also had the opportunity to chase tornadoes. On May 3rd, 1999, he chased a tornado that became the largest and most destructive tornado in US history into Oklahoma City. Over a period of six years, he saw dozens of tornadoes and learned a lot about storm structure. He is now looking forward to bringing his trademark storm forecasting to Atlanta. 

"Spending my entire career in the southern United States, I know all of the crazy things Mother Nature can throw at us. Trust me, I have seen it all. I will be bringing this knowledge to the beautiful city of Atlanta and will provide the same type of coverage Arkansans have come to count on over the past ten years," commented Francis.

Prior to his career in meteorology, Mike Francis served in the army and was a member of the elite 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper. He was in combat twice, with Operation Just Cause in Panama City and was one of the first 10,000 soldiers to invade Iraq in 1991 with Operation Desert Storm.

Mike later attended the most prestigious school in the world for meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, where he graduated at the top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association.

Mike is married with three children and has been extremely active in the Little Rock Community. He and his wife, Deanna have a child with autism and have been very active with Autism Speaks and AAROC (Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center). He and his wife both plan to become involved with Autism Speaks in Atlanta and want to become equally as involved in the community here as they have been in Little Rock.

"Mike Francis is one of the most well respected and knowledgeable meteorologists in the country. He has a unique style of forecasting and an obvious passion for weather. He is such a perfect fit for us. His years of storm chasing have given him incredible insight into the way storms behave and I'm proud to have him lead our team, "said Ellen Crooke, V.P. of News and Information for WXIA-TV. "Having the unique talent of Mike Francis, the 20-year market history of Chris Holcomb and someone who is as highly educated and as personable as Chesley McNeil, is an unbeatable weather team."

Mike Francis replaces Paul Ossmann, who will be leaving the station in July. 

WXIA-TV is owned by The Gannett Company

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