Drew Richards is the General Manager and Founder, and a Forecaster, for the Shoals Weather StormTrack Team and has been in that position since the start of Shoals Weather in August 2011.
Drew has had a lifelong passion for weather. He lived briefly in Kingfisher, Oklahoma as a first grader, and spent many nights hunkered down watching tornadic storms barely miss town. As a middle school kid he would stand outside on windy days with his handheld wind meter measuring wind gusts. He got his first home weather station in 1998. He also started working with an online weather site covering Alabama weather in 1998 at the age of 14.
Drew started volunteering with the Florence Lauderdale EMA in 2004 as a search and rescue team member. He started working full time with the EMA in 2009. Part of the EMA job was to storm spot during severe weather. On the morning of April 27, 2011 Drew was dispatched to the western part of Lauderdale County when a tornado watch was issued. Shortly after 4am, a line of thunderstorms moved into Lauderdale County. A EF1 tornado with 110mph winds developed just southwest of Drew’s location. This tornado quickly moved directly over Drew’s location as he was spotting in his EMA vehicle. “Huge oak trees started coming down all around me, and then there was silence. Then a huge crash rocked the vehicle as a tree branch slammed into the passenger window, throwing glass, leaves and rain all in on me. I instantly knew it was a tornado as the truck was rocking and my ears were popping. I instinctively turned the vehicle to face the wind so it didn’t roll me. I was okay, but cut from the glass that blew in on me. As a precaution I had to go get checked out at the local hospital, and ended up going down in the books as the first injury in the state of Alabama on April 27, 2011.”
Drew now loves helping get the word out about severe weather. He owns several weather stations that are deployed across the Shoals area. He also hosts a lightning detection sensor for the United States Precision Lightning Network (USPLN). He loves watching lightning on summer nights, and flying his drone to get a better view of storms.
Feel free to contact Drew by following the social media and email links above!