Since Age 4 she Always Wanted to Forecast the Weather, Meet Spectrum News 13 Meteorologist, Maureen McCann
Q: What made you decide to go in the field of telling the weather?
MM: I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist since age 4 when Hurricane Gloria hit New England. Our tree fell over in the front yard and to a 4-year old, that was a big deal! We watched the news every night while having dinner, and the weather was always my favorite part. I also had a fear of thunderstorms, so I thought if I was a meteorologist I would know when storms were coming, and I wouldn’t be as scared.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
MM: I set an alarm for 1:30 a.m. I try to get in some exercise before work, like yoga at home. My work day starts at 3 a.m. and it is very fast-paced at the start of my shift. I make my forecast, graphics, and do my own hair and makeup. We’re on air starting at 5 a.m. From there it’s weather every 10 minutes. The great thing about my schedule is that I get to enjoy the afternoons and take advantage of Florida weather. However, my day comes to an end earlier than most since I try to get to bed around 5-6 p.m.
Q: In your years of covering weather, what is the one weather event that you will never forget?
MM: The coverage leading up to and during Hurricane Irma stands out. The day of landfall, I reported to work early because I couldn’t sleep – there were constant tornado warnings. I may have been scheduled to go in at midnight. Instead, I went into the station around 6 p.m., and stayed on air until 9 a.m. when the storm had passed.
Q: Can you tell us about the 30-Minute special you did on Tracking Twisters.
MM: I was fortunate to be introduced to legendary storm chaser Tim Samaras and his team while in Colorado. When he embarked on one of his research trips across the plains, he invited me and a photographer along. We chased beyond Colorado, reaching as far away as Minnesota and Iowa, traversing several states. These adventures and lessons transformed into a 30-minute special that was honored with a Heartland Emmy Award and Colorado Broadcasters Association Award.
Q: How has technology in predicting the weather changed over the years?
MM: There are improvements coming all the time with respect to how we collect and analyze weather data. One of the biggest changes has been with the technology used to build weather graphics and show on air. Earlier in my career, it was a more cumbersome system that required much more time to build and render graphics. Now, we are able to produce high-quality imagery at a much faster rate. Every minute counts during severe weather, so it is a big help being able to craft graphics quickly.
Q: Have you ever had that the one embarrassing moment on TV you can share with us?
MM: At a previous station, we ran a pet of the week adoption segment. One time during a newscast, a cat got loose on the set and you could see the production staff in the background trying to locate the cat. It was hard to keep from laughing during my weather segment!
Q: Your currently AMS Commissioner on Professional Affairs … for those in our audience, not familiar with this organization, can you tell us more about them along with your role?
MM: The American Meteorological Society has a worldwide membership of over 12,000 dedicated to advancing weather, water and climate science. It is made up of over 100 boards and committees run by volunteers who are actively engaged in the Society’s activities. The Commission on Professional Affairs houses the boards and committees dedicated to professional growth and development, including the Society’s certification programs. The work keeps me busy, but I thoroughly enjoy being involved at this level within the Society.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work-life balance?
MM: I am open to advice on how best to manage this! I rely heavily on both a paper planner and my Google calendar to keep track of appointments and to-do items. My work schedule is unconventional and requires sleeping when most people are awake. I have to structure my afternoons to be productive, but also so that I can wind down and get to bed around 5 p.m. I make sure I get in some form of exercise every day, no matter how busy I am.
Q: Do you have any advice you can share for those women who may want to pursue a career as a Meteorologist?
MM: The course load within undergraduate meteorology programs requires a lot of math and science. It is ok to ask for help. I found that solidifying the basic math skills learned in algebra were the foundation to succeeding in the higher-level calculus courses. I also advise future meteorologists to take in as much experience as you can through internships. These opportunities help you realize what you might enjoy professionally, but also what you don’t like – and that is ok too!
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments in your career?
MM: A few years ago I was a guest on The Weather Channel’s show, “Wx Geeks.” As a kid growing up in the 80s, I watched The Weather Channel constantly as it was evolving. This was a major career achievement of mine; this was a chance to fulfill my dream of someday being on the Weather Channel, even if it was one episode.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
MM: To expect the unexpected. I have found that opportunities present themselves when you least expect it. Keep an open mind and be willing to accept roles that might make you uncomfortable at the start – they will become opportunities to grow.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
MM: My mom! She worked tirelessly in nursing for over 45 years. She technically retired a few months ago, but continues to work. No matter how busy her work schedule was, growing up I always had breakfast made for me each morning, a lunch packed, and dinner each night.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
MM: Social media has proven to be an effective means of communication, especially within my own line of work with respect to weather information. However, that medium also provides direct access for negative comments such as criticism of one’s appearance. Email acts in the same capacity, for people to say things that they probably wouldn’t say in person. It is important to stay above such negativity and keep a positive attitude.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
MM: Never burn a bridge! Everyone is connected. Take advantage of opportunities to network, and make an effort to keep in touch with those who you meet.
Five Things About Maureen McCann
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
John F. Kennedy, to be able to hear more about his vision for the country and support of sending humans to space (complete with his Boston accent).
2. Where’s your dream vacation?
Without question, Cape Cod. I grew up vacationing there and it still is my favorite place to be.
3. If you were a superhero, what would your special powers be?
Being able to time travel.
4. Do you enjoy cooking?
Absolutely, I try out new recipes on a regular basis. I’d have to say I’m more of a baker than a cook, especially around the holidays.
5. Who’s been the biggest influence in your life?
I often say that two of my cousins were very instrumental in my upbringing since they spent a lot of time babysitting me when I was a kid. My cousin Deb taught me how to read, and my cousin Donna taught me about Huey Lewis and the News (my favorite band).