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Canada’s weather personalities forced to get ‘comfortable with giving bad news’ amid worsening climate change

Canada's weather personalities forced to get 'comfortable with giving bad news' amid worsening climate change

Warren Dean recalls feeling helpless as a deadly heat dome hovered over British Columbia last summer.

The CTV News weather anchor for Vancouver Island says he and his colleagues tried to hammer home the seriousness of the unprecedented extreme heat event to the public but there were still those who failed to heed the warnings they were issuing.

“It was really helpless seeing the result of it and seeing that many people suffer through it,” Dean, a weather specialist for 16 years, said of the heat dome that resulted in more than 600 deaths in B.C. 

“I think we did a very good job as a weather community, as a forecasting community, to give plenty of notice to make adjustments, but we still got the ‘Well, it’s not going to be that bad.’ And I think what it showed us is that it can be that bad.”

Dean is among several Canadian on-air weather personalities who say they’ve been shifting their tone and approach in  light of worsening climate change.

OK not to end forecasts in ‘pleasant place’

While on-air forecasters can be seen by some as typically more light-hearted television personalities, Dean says he’s been making an effort in the last five years to share “a bigger picture” with his audience, delving into why a region is seeing certain weather conditions and how they could affect those living there.

CBC meteorologist Colette Kennedy, who’s been reporting on the weather since 1995, said she’s also changed her approach to her job as more extreme weather events occur. (David Donnelly/CBC)

“I’ve taken a very educational route to this when I present my forecast, and really dig into the science of it so that I can kind of show people really what’s going on, explain the reasons why we’re getting this and try to explain why it’s a crisis,” he said

CBC meteorologist Colette Kennedy, who’s been reporting on the weather since 1995, says she’s also changed her approach to her job as more extreme weather events occur. That’s meant reminding herself that it’s OK not to  end weather forecasts in a “happy and pleasant place,” she said.

“We tend to be talking in upbeat tones when we’re talking about just general forecasting,” she said, “the difference being when there’s severe weather, then it’s very serious and it’s life-threatening, and you take a very different approach.” 

“Now, there’s this place in between where you’re talking about just a forecast. It’s not severe weather in the sense of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, it’s…

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