Tag: radio

TWN’s Chris Murphy: Presenter of All Kinds of Weather!

Chris Murphy TWN 5

[courtesy of TWN]

I had the distinct honor and pleasure recently to interview Weather Presenter Chris Murphy from Canada’s, “The Weather Network” (TWN). Without further ado, let’s dive in and see what he had to say in response to the plethora of questions I asked him!

I wanted to find out if he began his passion for ‘all things weather’ from childhood, so I asked him this question:  What was your favorite toy as a child?

Star Wars figures – Hans Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader just to name a few.  (He couldn’t get enough of them!)

I was trying to tie in his love for the Star Wars sensation with his love of the weather……you know, stars, sky, that sort of thing. 

He could tell where I was going with my silly inquiry and said, “Sky Wars with Mother Nature…. some days it’s sunny and other days it’s thunder and lightning.”  

In all seriousness, I asked him when his fascination with weather began.

He did experience a moment when the light bulb went on.  It was summertime years ago, and he was fishing with the fellow who was his boss at the time.  The two were out on a lake, approximately a mile from shore. All of a sudden, he spotted clouds that he had never seen before. Two minutes later they found themselves pelted with hail.  When they finally made it back to shore, he declared never again to get caught out in the middle of a lake with that kind of system approaching.  He knew then and there he wanted to work at The Weather Network!

I do believe his ‘light bulb moment’ was covered in hail stones.  Very appropriate for that ‘weather bulb’ to go on, don’t you think?

I was interested to know what his career looked like before life at TWN.

He was a traffic reporter for about 3 years prior to his break at TWN.  He often provided traffic reports from the ground, but also from a plane. He worked for an outfit that serviced several radio stations throughout Southern Ontario.  This meant he would be on 5 or 6 radio stations per hour, with each one of them possessing their own unique, ‘call letters’, or ‘Station ID’.  He had to ensure that after each traffic report he signed off with the correct call letters.  The stations were also spread out over the province, miles (kilometers) apart.  He also used pseudonyms for different stations.  In a nutshell, he had to remember the different call letters, the various cities, and his ‘correct name’ for the particular station (Chris Murphy for one station, but Mr. Who? at another), all the while making sure the traffic reports were correct! 

I was amazed to learn that he never used a script; this was a good introduction to his current job at TWN because they too do not use scripts.  This brings us to the present, and his current job as a Weather Presenter at TWN.  I was curious to find out more about it.

Prior to going on-air as a Weather Presenter, he speaks with a meteorologist, looks at weather charts, and gains an idea of what the weather is going to be like for both the short and long-term.  However, when he goes on-air, he translates the information he’s obtained into words that people will understand.  “They don’t necessarily want to hear about a, ‘mid-latitude cyclone’; they want to hear, ‘it’s a storm’.”

TWN Thunderstorm picture

[courtesy of TWN]

I’m sure glad he ‘translates’ the weather for his viewers.  Quite frankly, if I heard there was a, ‘mid-latitude cyclone’ on its way, I wouldn’t know whether to head for the hills or to stand still and not move an inch!  He is definitely a ‘make it clear’ kinda guy.  I needed to know more:   

Chris reads a lot of books about the weather.  The more he reads about the weather, the more he realizes that it’s surprising they don’t get the forecasts wrong more often (not that they don’t get it wrong sometimes, as he noted).  “There is nothing on this earth that is more unpredictable or powerful than Mother Nature. Try and read Mother Nature’s mind.”

Not an easy task, to be sure.

“When I’m right, no one remembers, and when I’m wrong, no one forgets.  The science behind getting the forecasts right is incredible. We are as accurate three days out as we were 20 or 30 years ago, one day out.  Hopefully 20 years from now we will be even better.”

I wondered what surprised him the most about reporting the weather. 

How quickly the weather can change.  In the moment, there is nothing that you can do about what is happening outside.  It could be overcast in the morning, and by the afternoon there isn’t a cloud in the sky.  It never ceases to amaze him.  As of this August, he can say he’s reported the weather to Canadians for 18 years at TWN. 

Chris has such a fabulous sense of humor that it made me wonder if he had some funny weather stories to share.  Indeed he did.

In November, 2010, TWN sent him to Calgary, Alberta, which turned into an adventure that he suggested were learning experiences.  Calgary was experiencing an unusually early cold-snap. It was -22F (-30C) without the windchill. He was dressed head-to-toe with all the equipment you could think of, and all you could see were the pupils of his eyes.  He laughingly said that you’d think he was going to Mars. He was reporting on a street corner at about 9:00 a.m.  Around the corner arrived a grade-school group of girls dressed in their school uniforms, which consisted of dresses down to their knees, no hats or mittens in sight.  

The group of girls came clamoring around him because he had the cameraman filming him reporting the weather.  He asked one of the them, “How are you coping with this cold?” to which she replied, “This is nothing!” The TWN played this segment at various times for the whole day.  He’ll never forget when he got upstaged by a group of school girls with no coats, mittens, or hats!

I pictured him looking like, “Nanook of the North”! 

The TWN reports on Canadian weather; I asked him if American weather received any ‘air time’; guess what, it does!

The Weather Network US [courtesy of TWN]

“TWN has been a staple in Canada for years but now we have, ‘The Weather Network US‘ (TWNUS) which you can follow on twitter @TheWeatherNetUS. There are reporters at TWN who exclusively forecast the weather for the US, talking about good weather, severe weather, long-range forecasts. We are hoping it continues to expand.”  

You can get TWNUS’s weather app for Android phones here:   & Iphone here: goo.gl/Nmydgy

I had quite a number of weather-related questions to ask him that people wanted to know about. Due to time constraints, I was not able to ask him all of them.  However, here are a couple of questions: 

“Why do you think Canadians are so preoccupied with the weather? Many other countries get our type of weather too so what would you attributed it to?  Is it a cultural thing like going to Tim Hortons?”

“Great questions and yes, we are obsessed with the weather because it is part of our daily fabric.    We get all four seasons (sometimes in the same day).  The weather is a conversation starter; we love to complain about it.  In the summer we complain that it’s too hot, and in the winter we complaint that it’s too cold.  It is hard to get away from because it changes all the time.  But let’s say if we were in Arizona, the weather is pretty much the same every day.  Also, in Canada we get a limited amount of what people would deem as, ‘nice weather, outdoor weather’.  Small window in Spring and Fall when it’s not too hot.  For most of Canada, the perception is, whether it’s true of not, it seems like the weather is bad more often than it is good.  But it has more of an impact on us when we plan something outdoors, and because of the weather we have to reschedule it.”

One last question for now:  

“What is the difference between a hurricane and a tornado? If one is in the path of either, where is the safest place to be (in a doorway or bathtub, for example)?”

“A hurricane is a storm that brews in the ocean and it can be 300 miles (500 km) across; it can be a very large storm system.  The biggest threat in this case is what is known as a, ‘storm surge’, and literally the ocean lifts up and pushes itself along the coastline.  Heavy rain, strong winds and waves are the main threats.   A hurricane can be seen coming days in advance.  Widespread damage.  A tornado comes from a mile wide and a tornado’s wind can be much stronger than a hurricane’s wind.  One mile wide, but the winds can be 200-300 miles/hr strong.”  

If he had to come face-to-face with a hurricane or a tornado, He would pick the hurricane because the tornado would do a great amount of damage over a very small area.  It can rip apart one side of a neighborhood and not even move the dishes off a shelf on the other side of the neighborhood.

“During a tornado you have to be underground.  If you don’t have a basement, you have to get to an interior room like a closet where there are no windows.  Grab something on top of you like a mattress.  If you are heading to your basement, and have a grand piano (for example) in your living-room, don’t go to the part of the basement right under that grand piano because these kinds of heavy objects may come crashing through the floor.”

More to keep in mind during a tornado:

“You aren’t safe in your car because you can get caught up in traffic; you aren’t safe under a bridge because the winds actually get funneled under there; the bridge may collapse.”

Here is an excellent analogy for hurricanes vs tornadoes:

“Hurricanes are like an elephant you can see charging at you for 3 days.  You have time to get out-of-the-way or get flattened.  Tornadoes are more like a cobra laying in the rocks.  They can strike with little warning and pack plenty of venom.”

It was an absolute delight to interview Chris!  His sense of humor and humble manner was wonderful.  His knowledge of weather is incredible.  I want to thank him so much for allowing me the opportunity to ask him questions.  Actually, I had a lot more questions for him so I am hoping we can have a, “Part 2” to our interview!

Here is the link to The Weather Network: TWN ; you can also find them on twitter at @weathernetwork ‏.  If you are in Canada, please check your local listings for the station in your area.

The Weather Network Symbol

[courtesy of TWN]

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