She’s The Weekend Morning Meteorologist & Climate Change Reporter for NBC6 Miami. An Exclusive Interview with Meteorologist, Chelsea Ambriz
Q: How did you become interested in the weather?
CA: I don’t have the typical meteorologist story when it comes to getting into weather. I can’t pinpoint one event that shaped me as a child to want to be a meteorologist. I have always been a “science nerd” if you will. I had a microscope kit that I got for my 8th or 9th birthday. I was obsessed with it. Science was always my favorite subject. When I was in high school, my brother and I watched the docuseries on the History Channel called “How the Earth Was Made” and that is what started turning the wheels to becoming a meteorologist. There was an episode on the chemistry make-up of the atmosphere and how the ocean developed, and I was hooked on learning more!
Q: When did you decide to be a Meteorologist?
CA: It wasn’t until college that I decided to fully purse a career in meteorology. I knew I wanted to do something environmentally related, but I didn’t have a clue as to what. I went through the booklet of majors in my college acceptance packet, and I found atmospheric sciences. This sounded fun because it is basically physics of weather. I loved it! I did a summer internship at a TV station but thought I was too shy to be in front of the camera. I had a college professor that highly encouraged me to apply for TV jobs and saw something in me, I didn’t see at the time. The rest is history! I love the science behind forecasting and the creativity that comes with telling the weather story.
Q: What are some of the most challenging aspects of being a Meteorologist?
CA: The most challenging thing is having to interpolate the data behind each forecast. I always say my forecast was right, the weather was wrong… HA! It doesn’t always pan out exactly as it is simulated by model data. So, learning about the microclimate in the area is important. It feels good when I make a call and it happens perfectly but if I miss a forecast, I like going back and reevaluating what I might have missed.
Q: Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a forecast?
CA: I start with what is happening now and the current conditions across the area. I’ll look at the temperatures, sky conditions, dewpoints, and the wind. From there I start looking at the forecast data to see how things are trending. I like to start at the surface then work my way up the atmosphere to the jet stream level. Each level of the atmosphere helps dictate how a forecast comes together. Once I have my idea of a forecast put together, I start building graphics. I like to update the 7-day graphic first and then start picking what will be the most important information to talk about and make a specific graphic to that. Because we have so many weather hits in a newscast, I try to find at least two different ways to tell the same story!
Q: Can you share with our audience one of your most memorable weather events you’ve covered?
CA: I’ve covered some of the most historic weather events like Hurricane Dorian and Hurricane Ian. Seeing the destruction is extremely heavy on my heart but there is a way to prepare for storms ahead of time to an extent. I think the most impactful for me directly was the record wildfire seasons out west during 2020 and 2021. There were hundreds of thousands of acres on fire. Seeing ash fall from the sky like it was snow under a hazy orange sky was something I’d never experienced before. A change in the wind direction would shift where the fires were spreading, and it would happen so fast there was little time to prepare. The images of the mountains of fire, gut wrenching. Seeing homes and neighborhoods engulfed in flames in a place that I lived was truly scary.
Q: Is there one season of the year that's easier or harder to forecast?
CA: I’ve forecasted every weather phenomenon from snow, dust storms, tornadoes, to hurricanes and every season has its own challenges. For example, only a few degrees can make or break a snow forecast. Seasonal changes in the fall and spring trigger severe weather. For hurricane season in South Florida, is all hands-on deck when we are in the path of a tropical system. If the path of a system shifts, it can change the impacts to our area drastically. Staying calm and in a clear head space helps when the marathon coverage becomes taxing.
Q: Do you have any advice you can share for those women who may want to pursue a career as a Meteorologist?
CA: Don’t limit yourself. I think we, as women, should feel impowered to strive to be as great as we possibly can even in a male dominated industry. Find what you’re good at and follow those strengthens. Surround yourself with people that will continue to build you up. It definitely took some encouragement from those around me to step out of my comfort zone but once you know your worth, you’re unstoppable!
Q: Have you ever had that the one embarrassing moment on TV you can share with us?
CA: I have had several embarrassing moments and usually just laugh them off. The most recent embarrassing moment went viral! In the newsroom, it’s known as the bird video. I just started my main weather segment at the green screen and out of my periphery, I saw a huge bird fly toward the live camera. From my vantage point, my brain told me duck so it wouldn’t land on me. Instead of dropping to the floor, I screamed. In all a few milliseconds, I realized it was just the camera and I needed to keep going... It was truly embarrassing for me, and funny for everyone that has watched it.
Six Things About Meteorologist Chelsea Ambriz
1. What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
I would love to meet Ginger Zee. She is a climate advocator, intelligent meteorologist, and relatable. I look up to her in this field but would love to have a personal conversation with her and chat about nonweather things!
2. Among your friends, what are you best known for?
I am known for being quiet, yet witty. I tend to come up with these silly one-liners that make my friends laugh but at the most unexpected time.
3. What’s your favorite international food?
Hands down, authentic Swiss fondue. I had fondue in Gruyere, Switzerland and is still one of my favorite things.
4. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done?
Probably accepting my cat, Oliver, from a coworker… Ollie needed to be rehomed and I accepted him on a whim. My coworker even brought Oliver to the studio the same day I accepted the offer!
5. What would you sing at Karaoke night?
An upbeat Taylor Swift song!
6. What was your favorite subject in school?
Chemistry, physics, and math! I honestly thought these subjects were fun…. Yes, even math!