As a former long time news hound and ambulance chaser, one has always had a keen interest in the weather…. Yes even back as far as a kid growing up on a Burgessville area farm south of Woodstock during WWII.
As you can appreciate farming often relies on the whims of Mother Nature. no crop seed planting in the middle of a terrible downpour. To this day we must have more than a dozen weather apps on our iPad and iPhone. When this reporter worked at CFCH-CKGN TV over 55 years ago at Calendar near North Bay, I was intrigued by our weather guy. He seemed quite a real pro. There was a flair about him with is magic grease pencil. When watching him do the weather live on TV, I was often impressed how well he knew the Canadian and American geography.
One night after signing off on radio from studios down stairs one went upstairs to wait for the TV gang to sign off so we could all drive to Red Line Inn nearby for a cold one. There I discovered the weatherman’s secret. I discovered a little secret that all the provinces and states were lightly printed with pencil on a paper map under glass that covered the entire weather map so he could mark all the highs and lows on the glass with a grease pencil! Felt like I discovered a magician’s secret! But there was more……more? You bet.
North Bay housed a Bomarc Missile Base deep in the bowels of a mountain near the city’s airport and military base. RCAF’s Black Knight Squadron was stationed there. Our weather guy called his counter part at the airport each shift. They agreed on present and future weather status and what the weather might be for the next 24 hours. Back at studios our guy did the rest before air time, marking up the 10 feet by five foot glass covered weather map .
Since it more often than not rained in British Columbia he pencilled in an angry rain cloud. In the prairies another cloud was added but this time the weather character was blowing wind. To cover his bets one day in Ontario, the Sault was sunny one day, next day cloudy……same with the east coast mostly cloudy with rain off and on. Toronto’s weather he often scooped from the old Telegram. He was paid well and was always the first to leave work after reporting the weather so as to get a plumb seat at the Inn and get served first.
At CKMP Radio in Midland, owner – the late Bruce Armstrong – nailed a string outside a hall window near the control room. Each new announcer was shown the string. Bruce’s message was always the same even to his sons and daughter who he also hired.
“When the string moves back and forth it is windy. When it is wet it is raining. When you can’t see it, it is foggy. If it is covered with snow………..” You see, new announcers would never look out the window after tearing off the weather reports from newsroom’s teletype before running down the hall into a studio and broadcasting what was written.
EXAMPLE: “Make certain you bring an umbrella with you this afternoon there’s a good chance of a downpour.” Had the lad looked out studio windows on Dominion he couldn’t have seen Martin’s Shoe Repair, Chinese Laundry or French’s Dry Cleaners across the street!! Guess that’s why I am fixated on the weather….
When driving to the Big Smoke, one is always looking at cloud formations and directions, which way birds fly and how high or low and more. I watch flags flying and in what direction…..a flag full straight tells me winds are blowing in the 45 mph range. I can even tell what direction one is travelling by just using the hands on my wrist watch….a great trick that some keen/inventive Boy Scout discovered decades ago. As a former volunteer firefighter we found it important to know which way the winds were blowing when helping to battle a stubborn blaze ….firefighting experiences will have to wait for another day..
Next time you drive by our main post office….look up at the flag and figure out what way the wind is blowing and roughly how fast. Soon you will develop of keen, fun-filled hobby and the best part, no heavy lifting.