After a decade at CTV, Cindy Day will put up her last Weather Watch tonight. Day started her career on Ottawa radio before ending up on Global TV 19 years ago. She spoke to The Coast in the CTV Atlantic green room on Robie Street about her favourite viewers, the double-edged sword of social media and what she could do next.
This interview, which took place on a warm and rainy Tuesday, has been condensed and edited.
Was there a plan in place for what you wanted to do here?
It was interesting. My arrival at CTV was abrupt. Peter Coade had announced his retirement and I was sitting at Global, watching. Because we monitor each other, right, to see what’s his take on the storm, what’s my take on the storm. So I happened to be watching and I saw them say, ‘It’s going to be Peter’s last day.’ I thought ‘Oh my gosh no, really?’ And 20 minutes later the phone rang. And it was management here [at CTV] who said, ‘Would you like to meet?’ And I did, between the 6 o’clock news and the 11:30 news. We met and chatted and I started a few weeks later. So that was very, very quick.
They were very open—they knew what I brought to Global, I wasn’t from an out-of-market station. So they said, ‘We know you’ll fit in here, bring your expertise.’ And so it just grew from there.
Are there any highlights of the past 10 years?
Juan and White Juan have to be at the top of the list for weather highlights. And it’s interesting because by the time the storm arrives, my job is done. I remember on the day of the storm, somebody saying ‘Oh big day for you!’ No, I’ve had five big days leading up to this one. Because my job is to forecast it. Once it hits, it’s here.
The other highlights are just connecting with the people, meeting people. And not that I don’t love all the people, but I love the kids and the seniors. The children have just this curiosity about weather, because it’s all around them and they hear people talking about it. The senior people seem to have such a knowledge and such experience dealing with weather situations and hearing weather lore.
Do you think if you were a meteorologist in somewhere like Arizona, where the weather is just sort of the same all the time, would it be as exciting? One of the quirks of living here…
…is it’s always changing. I don’t think I’d like it there. I’ve often wondered, ‘Would I be happy in Florida?’ Although they get hurricanes. But I just love the challenge of the change. And it’s always changing here. And CTV broadcasts to the three Maritime provinces, so in a three-minute hit I have to talk about Bathurst and Yarmouth and Louisbourg. There’s such a spread of weather—even climate zones, there’s the Maritime climate and the continental climate—so that challenge is really what I love.
This is sort of a dark pivot but: Global warming? Have you noticed how it’s affected the weather? You’re right in there with the data.
Absolutely. And I’ve been in the Maritimes almost 20 years, and that’s a pretty small window when you’re talking about a big issue like global warming and climate change. But I certainly have noticed that the falls linger longer, winter doesn’t come until later, usually after Christmas. So there definitely is a shift with the warming temperatures—so the falls stay nicer longer, but it takes a lot longer for the ocean temperatures to cool to allow winter to set in a little bit.
Do you think the criticism you receive on Twitter and such is gender-based?
"I’ve often wondered, ‘Would I be happy in Florida?’ But I just love the challenge of the change. And it’s always changing here."
The comments overall oftentimes are gender-based. None of the men would get—or I’m not aware of—many comments saying ‘Hey how come your hair look like that?’ or ‘Why doesn’t your lipstick match your fingernails this afternoon?’ Those kind of comments certainly are geared to women in the business. And it’s difficult to get past them and I’ve found I’ve had to grow a thicker skin. They say ‘Don’t even think about it.’ For one bad one there’s 1,000 good ones, but it’s that one bad one that really gets to you.
And you have to read them all.
And you have to read them all. Because to get to the questions people want answered, you have to filter through all of that. That has been difficult.
But in terms of my job as a scientist and meteorologist, I’m on a level playing field that way.
Or even when you pointed out that Frankie MacDonald is not a meteorologist. That’s all you said.
That’s all I said. Oh my goodness, I love Frankie and that was never intended to by anything more than a statement of fact. There are people out there who just don’t seem to have anything better to do, and they want to try and pit people against each other. I see it every day on my Facebook page—if I comment ‘Oh it looks so pretty with that light snowfall,’ someone will say ‘Don’t you know that we don’t like getting around in the snow?’ But then others will start attacking.
So it just spins out of control, it doesn’t even have to be something I’ve said necessarily. I think a person has to realize there will always be that.
I have an app on my phone that will tell me what time it's going to stop raining. It's got weather by the hour. What's the role of the supper-hour meteorologist in 2017?
I think it’s crucial that a person can make a connection the person sitting at the other end of the television—or if they’re watching on phone or their iPad—and being able to explain as well. Meteorology is a science, it’s not 100% accurate all the time—we’re dealing the atmosphere and constant flux and change.
I hear—especially after I made my announcement—people saying, ‘We learn so much with you, and that’s what we love about the Weather Watch on CTV. You’re able to tell us why and how come.’ Having that explanation and a personal touch is so important. And looking on a phone as you walk, ‘Well they said it was going to rain till 10 and it stopped at 2,’ you don’t know why. You have no answers.
Are you going to say where you’re going on your last show?
No, not yet.
CBC is the only place you haven’t worked.
The timing is pretty uncanny, there’s been some shifting around there. But I’m not going to CBC. I can say that.
I’m going to go home to the farm, milk some cows, relax for a week or so then come back in the new year—there’s a couple of irons in the fire here and there. I just want to focus on the last few years of my working career, what is it that I really, really want to do, that makes the happiest? I’ve talked about talking to the kids, all those things—reaching out and connecting with people even more, I think I’m going to kind of steer myself in that direction.
What’s your perfect weather day? If it could be one day forever, what would happen?
It would be summertime. And it would be a warm front in the morning, with morning showers, and that high humidity. And then a cold front with pop-up thunderstorms, and then a wind direction change and a cool night.