BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There's a new vehicle sitting atop Red Mountain at WBRC FOX6. It's a new Ford Expedition with four wheel drive, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled, and a five-star crash rating. The vehicle is your new WBRC First Alert Storm Tracker, powered by Town & Country Ford.
"I think I'm the most excited just because I'll probably be in it the most," said meteorologist Jill Gilardi.
It's the truck that meteorologists and storm spotters dream of and it's now in the WBRC FOX 6 fleet and ready to hit the streets.
"When weather is happening, this truck is going to be out on the roads, sending pictures back to TV station and the viewers at home so they can know just how severe those storms are," said WBRC FOX6 Chief Meteorologist J-P Dice.
It has the most advanced technology. "This truck in many cases may be the first eyes and ears to alert folks back home what's happening because we're going to be on the front lines of severe weather when storms roll in," said Dice. "This truck will be there to intercept that weather and give us live pictures as well as wind data, temperature data, dew point, everything you want to know about these storms as they are developing."
Gilardi is an experienced storm tracker and she's seen her share of storm tracking vehicles. She said this one is unlike any other. "In Alabama, it's a different story storm chasing because you have trees in your way," she said. "Having this vehicle and being able to spot that storm up close, we can even see maybe before the radar even sees what's happening with that storm."
"What this allows us to do is get out there and be able to help provide the answers to the critical questions," said meteorologist Wes Wyatt. "Is there a tornado? Are we dealing with wind-related damage? Is this storm producing damage? And are the roads okay during winter weather situations? That's what this is all about," he said.
"This gives us real time, what we call ground truth so that information can go from where the truck is in the bad weather to the viewers at home so they know what's happening," agreed Dice.
The new and improved WBRC First Alert Storm Tracker is a game changer. That's why Town and Country Ford felt called to help us power it up.
"It's important to me to have this vehicle on the roadways very simply because we've had a lot of families that were affected in the April storms," said Mitchell Watts with Town and Country Ford. "We've literally had a lot of people lose their houses and have a lot of damage so to be able to give back to a company that can help us keep people informed and safe, it really means a lot to us."
"If I can show folks where the worst weather is and they can get to their safe spot even sooner and react, then my job is done," added Gilardi.