Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Jack Williams is the retired, founding Weather Editor of the USA TODAY newspaper and Web site and is the author of seven books.

His journalism career began in Jacksonville, Fla. (his home town) after he graduated from Jacksonville University. In 1962. A year later he moved to Rochester, N.Y. where he worked as a reporter and copy editor at the city’s two Gannett Corp., Inc. newspapers.

During the 1970s he earned his private pilot’s license, which sparked his interest in weather. He took courses in meteorology, physics and calculus at the State University of New York College at Brockport and started writing a weekly weather column.

This helped lead the Gannett Corp. to call on Jack to help develop the Weather page in in 1981 and early 1982 when the company decided to start the USA TODAY newspaper. In 1982 when USA TODAY began publication Williams was founding editor of the weather page.

In the 1980s Williams earned an FAA instrument pilot rating and qualified as an FAA basic and advanced ground school instructor. For several years, he taught ground school courses for the Av Ed Flight School based at the Leesburg, Va. Airport.

In the late 1980s his USA TODAY responsibilities expanded to covering climate change and polar sciences and to being author of the first and second editions of The USA TODAY Weather Book and the USA TODAY Weather Almanac, all published by USA TODAY and the Vintage Books Division of Random House. This work left no time for Jack to fly and teach aviation ground school courses.

In 1997, the National Science Foundation invited Jack to Greenland to cover its new, year-round Summit research station on the highest part of the Greenland Ice Sheet. In 1999, he was among six journalists the National Science Foundation took to Antarctica where he filed USA TODAY and USATODAY.com stories from research stations, including the station at the South Pole. His polar reporting included three more trips to Greenland and one to Barrow, Alaska, which included four days reporting from a research icebreaker sailing on the Arctic Ocean. While at USA TODAY and the AMS Jack flew on six NOAA WP-3 hurricane flights, and took part in four scientific tornado chases on the Great Plains, without ever catching a tornado.
Jack was recruited for the Explorers Club by a fellow journalist on his 2003 reporting trip to Greenland for USA TODAY.

Williams retired from USA TODAY in 2005 and worked for the American Meteorological Society in Washington, D.C., through 2008 as Coordinator of Public Outreach. The primary part of this job was writing The AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate Guide to America’s Weather, which the AMS and the University of Chicago Press published in June 2009.

Williams’ other books are:

  • The USA TODAY Weather Book, Vintage Books, two editions, 1991 and 1996
  • The USA TODAY Weather Almanac, Vintage, 1993
  • Hurricane Watch: Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth, co-author with Dr. Robert Sheets, Vintage, 2001
  • The Complete Idiots Guide to the Arctic and Antarctic, Alpha Books, 2003.
  • Hurricanes: Causes, Effects, and the Future, co-author with Stephen Leatherman, published by Voyageur Press, 2008.
  • Field Guide to the Water’s Edge, co-author with Stephen Leatherman, published by the National Geographic Society, 2012.
  • The National Geographic Pocket Guide to North American Weather, 2017.

Williams won the American Meteorological Society’s Louis J. Battan Author’s Award in 1994 for The USA TODAY Weather Book. Williams and Sheets won the AMS Battan Award in 2004 for Hurricane Watch.

Since retiring from the American Meteorological Society Williams has been a freelance writer, focusing on weather and related topics. He has written a monthly column on weather for pilots for Flight Training Magazine since 1993. He is a regular contributor to the Washington Post’s online “Capitol Weather Gang” blog.

Williams is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and of the Washington Academy of Science. In addition to the Explorers Club, he is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and The National Press Club, He was chair of The Explorers Club Washington Group in 2015 and 2016.

Williams and his wife, Darlene R. Shields, live in Falls Church, Va.