An Interview With...
Claire is the chief meteorologist for Global News at 5:30, 6 and 11. She is originally from London, England, but now resides in Edmonton. An alumni of the University of Alberta, Claire worked for Environment Canada before coming to Global.
Why did you become a meteorologist? How did you become a weather presenter?
I became a meteorologist because - as a child - I was fascinated by my environment. And that fascination is still with me today. I'm simply thrilled when a forecast goes well and humbled when it goes wrong.
The "weather presenting" thing came about through Bill Matheson [a notable weatherman for ITV News, now Edmonton Global]. I used to brief him from Environment Canada on a daily basis. He asked me to come to the station one day to audition for the new Live at 5:30 show. I got the job, and fell into this career!
Television viewers only see the "finished product" on a newscast. What happens in the newsroom behind-the-scenes to produce a news program? What is your average day like?
My day begins at 1:30 pm. I have to download numerical models, etc. so that I can start making up the forecasts. The weather part of the show needs to be scripted for cameras/directors, etc., and I do that myself. Satellite loops, etc. need to be downloaded from the Internet and the live weather stations need to be programmed. All this takes me to around 4:30 pm. I get half an hour for hair/make-up and then I go into the studio for the last half hour to "gather my thoughts". The average day is chaotic!
What is it like being on camera? Were you ever camera-shy?
It's just like talking to a good friend.. nope!
Is being in front of a camera different than being in front of an auditorium filled with people?
Yes the audience - when it's a living breathing thing in front of you - is always slightly more nerve wracking.. but it's also more rewarding because you can interact with a live audience. You can't with a camera.
How do those projection screens that you stand in front of work?
The screen is simply large monitors. Next week we'll be going to a "chrome-key" screen where images are projected onto a green background. These are more difficult to use because you can't see the image on the screen. You can only see it on a TV monitor.
What are some of your hobbies?
I run every other day, and I play the piano.
How do you "predict" the weather?
Weather prediction is a complex blend of science and gut feelings. The science allows you to calculate certain outcomes - and their probability of occurring - the gut feeling allows you to come up with the final answer.
How far in advance can the weather be predicted?
Forecasts made for the following 24 hours are usually 85-90% accurate. 4-day forecasts are usually 65-85% accurate, but 10 days forecasts are still a little hit and miss.
What weather event is your favourite? Why?
Severe cold/blizzard days still astound me, and because I've had the opportunity to be around them a few years now, I have even more of a healthy respect for them than I did when I first got out here.
How does it feel like to be chosen "Best Weather Presenter in the World" at the International Weather Presenters Festival?
I feel shocked and honored, and very overwhelmed by the title. The Festival brings together people from quite literally around the world - we come together to learn about the way weather is disseminated in different cultures and to make ourselves aware of different ways of doing things.
How will the Earth's climate change over the next few centuries? Does it depend heavily on what humans decide to do?
Tough question. Most scientists agree that the environment is in a state of great flux. But how much the long term effects are changed by man - well, I have no idea. Unfortunately being in TV has removed me from the academic world - and to some extent, from the latest discoveries in my field. I would have to say that generally, common census is that we have warmed our planet, and that we will continue to warm our planet, but that a definitive answer to your question is simply beyond my realm right now.
What is it like being known by virtually an entire city? How do you deal with your "fame"?
I'm not very good at being "known"! I find it difficult dealing with it sometimes. I have always been a very private person, and to give that up is and has been difficult. On a more humorous level, I am still amazed that people recognize me. I'm pretty scummy looking on my days off and figure I hide well. Often, I'm proved wrong!!
How do you feel when you know that someone's day may rely on your forecasts?
Then they put far too much weight in the forecast!! The first thing you learn when you study the field of meteorology, is that Mother Nature loves to play with us.. nothing is for sure - you should never "rely" on a forecast.. much like in the stock market there is never a sure bet.
Do you think it would be fun and interesting if you did a weather report for Mars one day?
I've done one!! When NASA landed the Pathfinder on Mars!!
Send your questions about meteorology to: Imagiverse - Ask The Expert
- 27 August 2001
25 March 2002
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