As a child I, was fascinated by the weather. I would watch the news just to see the “Weatherman.” Half scientist, half storyteller and 100 percent entertaining—it was always a special treat when a woman would fill in for the “Weatherman.” Now almost every station in the nation has at least one woman in its weather department.
Here at “FOX News Chicago,” we have two women on our team. Did I mention, my sister Patty is also a meteorologist in Sacramento, California? People always wonder if we are competitive. It’s just the opposite; we are very supportive of each other. We always wanted to work together, but have never had that opportunity.
Many more girls are becoming interested in weather and science. I get e-mails every week from young women wanting to pursue a career in weather. I always encourage them, but I also ask them one question: Would you still be interested in a weather career if it wasn’t on television? The smoke and mirrors of television can make it seem glamorous. In reality, it’s a lot of work.
This is a competitive business; a college degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, plus the AMS and NWA Seals of approval are becoming the minimum requirements.
What you see on television is only about 10 percent of what I actually do. It’s the tip of the iceberg. The rest of my work time is spent analyzing the weather, creating a forecast, building the graphics you see behind me, co-coordinating with the show producers, attending meetings, making public appearances, visiting schools and answering hundreds of phone calls and e-mails each week.
My day begins with a 2:30 a.m. wake-up call from three separate alarm clocks. If the power goes out on the electric alarm clock, I have two battery operated back-ups. The news starts at 5:00 a.m., so oversleeping or being late is not an option. Thankfully, I’m a morning person. Plus, the early morning shift allows for a family life even with an early bedtime (lights out is at 7 p.m.). At the other end of the spectrum are my colleagues who work the night shift and don’t finish until 11 p.m.
I started my career in a very small town in northern California. Starting small is a good idea for anyone entering the news business. I was able to develop a style and learn from my mistakes. All on a salary that is best described as “being paid to go to graduate school.” Early on, one of the criteria I used in determining which job to accept was whether or not I could learn something from the other meteorologists on the team.
There were few, if any, women in charge of weather departments, so throughout my career, I have always had men as my mentors. They treated me as an equal and it was a good working experience. Today, because weather is available on the Internet and 24-hour cable channels, there are more weather jobs available than ever before. That means more women of weather are popping up across the nation. Thankfully, the perception of women as “weather bunnies” is slowly eroding.
I think the most rewarding part of my job is giving people information that they can use. Good or bad, at least you know what to expect from the weather. Have I ever been wrong? Yes, it doesn’t happen often but I do lose sleep over forecasts that have changed or gone bust. Fortunately, weather technology is so good today that forecast mistakes aren’t very common.
By Author: Tammie Souza