By Ryan Horne
About a year ago Natalie Thomas stood in a parking lot in London, Ont., as she broke down the weather for her viewers on the Weather Network.
The parking lot she stood in was flooded owing to some wicked weather, which had plowed through London, unleashing lightning, rain, hail and four tornadoes.
“This was one of the craziest moments of my life,” she said.
Screaming at the top of her lungs, Thomas tried to explain what was going on. Then a lightning bolt struck a nearby electrical pole and all of the power went out. “I didn’t even know if we were still live on air,” she said of reporting on the horrific weather conditions.
They were still live and Thomas finished off her report. So goes the life of a weather person.
Thomas, 27, has been working at the Weather Network since June 2007, but said that wasn’t the first thing on her mind as a child growing up in Guelph.
“Weather was not on my radar,” said Thomas. “My mom always said I wanted to be an actress growing up. I think a lot of girls have that dream.”
Thomas went to Centennial Collegiate in Guelph and later took a broadcasting program at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
“I loved writing, so I thought I wanted to get into a journalism program of some sort,” she said.
Thomas played forward on the Appalachian State basketball team and remembers the horrors of three-a-day practices and the mile-and-a-half runs.
“American coaches have a system and they don’t deviate from it until you throw up,” said Thomas.
After 3 1/2 exhausting years of school and basketball, Thomas was ready to move on. She started working for Rogers TV in Kitchener and later interned at CBS in Boston as an investigative journalist.
After her time in Beantown, Thomas applied for an opening at the Weather Network at the age of 22 and got it.
“I was lucky enough to get in, and it was busy right from the start,” said the weather woman.
Thomas said weather men and woman either have a passion for weather or they acquire one by being on TV and getting a job in the field. Thomas is in the latter category.
“It wasn’t my dream job to start, but it has become my dream job,” said Thomas. “Weather can be amazing, but it can be really hard when you’re out in the field.”
Thomas has been in the midst of some extreme weather conditions, including the London tornadoes as well as freezing temperatures out west in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
“My hair was literally freezing because my breath would hit it,” she said.
Social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook have really changed how the news, and the weather, are told.
“People can ask questions that they never could before,” said Thomas. “It builds this relationship with the audience like never before.”
Establishing a stable career has been the main concern for Thomas since university. But with Thomas and her husband’s first child on the way in the new year, that concern will change to family. Even with a baby on board, she expects to take only four months off for maternity leave.
“I do love my job and I am that type of person who loves to be at work,” she said.
Thomas can be seen live on air every Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. The Weather Network broadcasts out of Oakville.