By Pilar Martinez, Manager Strathcona and Woodcroft Branches
Edmonton’s best-known meteorologists are forecasting great weather ahead for our Summer Reading Program.
You’ll find their sunny faces on the cover of this magazine. Dawn Chubai, weather specialist at A-Channel; Claire Martin, chief meteorologist at Global; and Ian Leonard, meteorologist at CFRN, kindly volunteered to be on our cover and in our poster for this year’s Read Up a Storm theme with the city’s youngest library users.
Dawn, Claire and Ian are well-known in Edmonton for their dependable reports on weather conditions and daily forecasts. Like all great meteorologists, they also know that the best way to beat the heat in the summertime is to find an exciting book and a cool place in the shade to read it. They also recommend that kids sit out a summer thunderstorm on a big, soft couch with a library book that they’ve chosen through the Summer Reading Program at their local library.
While our friendly forecasters waited for their photo to be taken, Pilar Martinez, Manager of Strathcona and Woodcroft Branches, asked them some questions about their weather work in Edmonton ...
Pilar: Why did you become a weather presenter/meteorologist and what is your favourite part of the job?
Dawn: For me, it was a fluke. I was given the opportunity and I ran with it.
Claire: I’ve always been a weather geek - absolutely fascinated with the weather – and interested in nothing else as a career. I started in the area of aviation/ military forecasting. I never saw myself as a TV meteorologist.
Ian: Because I admire Claire so much. No, actually I was doing a rock video show and they needed someone to fill in. They asked me and I said sure. You get hooked on atmospheric science, and the more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know, even after completing a degree. Now I’m a total total weather geek.
Pilar: Tell us the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on air.
Dawn: A car drove by me with a group of guys while I was doing a shoot and they threw a brand-new pair of Hanes underwear at me. I felt a little like a female Tom Jones.
Claire: I was at A Taste of Edmonton and they had this big bouncy puffy play-castle thing. My cameraman asked if I could get into it. I got the count down to tell me when we were going on-air. Then, all these children started jumping. I launched into a few kids, and there was crying and screaming. It was horrible.
Ian: I’m impossible to embarrass. No matter where I am, or what I’m doing, I don’t mind being silly to get a laugh.
Pilar: Dawn, I understand you are a jazz singer and have recorded a CD. Tell us about the differences and similarities in being a weather personality and a jazz singer.
Dawn: Well, whenever I sing Stormy Weather or Come Rain or Come Shine, people get a kick out of it. You can’t be shy. You have to be able to go with the flow in either situation. It’s all performance in both careers.
Pilar: Ian, I understand that in your spare time, you ski, play soccer, golf and run – training for the Canadian Death Race. Tell us about this race.
Ian: It’s adventure racing with a twist. A team of five run a course that consists of 125 kms, three mountain summits and over 7,000 feet of elevation change as well as crossing a river, all in 24- hours. Street marathon running is boring. My wife and I do the Death Race together.
Pilar: Claire, I understand you play the piano and run as well. Will you be joining Ian in the Death Race?
Claire: No. I’ll be cheering for him. See you at the end.
Pilar: All of you have won various awards and honours. Dawn, you were rated Sexiest Edmontonian by See Magazine (more than once). How did you feel about this honour?
Dawn: It was great. Very flattering. When I’m 99 years old, and I have 50 grandkids, I’ll be thinking, “Those were the days.”
Pilar: Claire, how did you feel about being voted Best Weather Presenter in the World (twice)?
Claire: I was stunned when I won – and I still am – even today! It was a tremendous honour.
Pilar: And, Ian, how did you feel about winning the Most Accurate Meteorologist Award in Edmonton?
Ian: Temperature accuracy, chart analysis and long-range forecasting are the technical part of my job, but helping people to understand the hows and whys of Edmonton’s weather are what it’s all about. You hope to do the best job every day whether you win awards or not.
Pilar: Can you think of a book or story that inspired you to be who you are today?
Claire: The Enid Blyton books were the best. I read them voraciously.
Ian: I read the Hardy Boys – all of them.
Dawn: I read all the Nancy Drew.
Ian: These books were about problem-solving and that’s what we do.
Pilar: What are you reading right now or have read lately?
Dawn: I’m reading one of the Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Because of the hype with the movie, I wanted to make sure I read the book before I saw the movie. The book is always better than the movie. As long as you read, it doesn’t matter what your purpose.
Claire: I’m currently re-reading Elizabeth Berg’s Talk Before Sleep. I just finished White Oleander and the latest Sue Grafton book.
Ian: Millions of textbooks. I just finished Knockdown, a book about a big yacht race in Australia. Weather plays a big part in it. A massive storm literally destroys the fleet.
Pilar: What advice would you give to anyone thinking about going into the field of meteorology?
Dawn: Don’t be afraid to try something new. I had no television experience before. Don’t be afraid to take risks, to take that chance if someone gives you that opportunity.
Ian: It’s a multifaceted field. You need to decide what you’d like to do. TV is alluring, but … don’t get swayed by the glitz and glamour of it because it’s just a job.
Claire: TV is a tough career to get into – really tough. There’s a great deal of competition for each on-air position. As with most jobs the starting salaries are quite poor, but you can advance quickly if you’re good. The on-air weather position, though, is often seen as the launching pad for main anchor positions - and I really don’t approve of that. If you really want to do TV, then great, go for it! It’s a frantically busy but fun job!
Pilar: I’m sure our Summer Reading Program participants would like to know the answer to this question. What are your predictions/ forecasts for weather this summer in Edmonton?
Dawn: Full of sunshine and smiles.
Ian: We have a weak to moderate El Nino. The trends would suggest a wet end to summer. After the recent hoar frost some farmers say they’re supposed to get rain six months to the day. That would be in June.
Claire: Hot and sunny. Some wise people say, ‘Never forecast rain in a drought’ – so I won’t!
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