Blazing trails and forecasting big storms is all in a day's work for this TV meteorologist
Cecily Tynan is a TV trailblazer in one of the biggest U.S. markets. For National Women's Month, AccuWeather is highlighting her and her career.
Cecily Tynan is a TV trailblazer in one of the biggest U.S. markets. When she came to Philadelphia in 1995, there were no women meteorologists forecasting the weather on any of the local TV stations. But her arrival has changed the TV landscape there and ushered in a new era for women in local news in the City of Brotherly Love.
Tynan started at WPVI, Philadelphia’s "6ABC Action News" in October 1995, initially signing a two-year contract but has since worked her way up to WPVI Chief Meteorologist and is a staple on local TV.
She was thrown into the fire early in her tenure since she arrived at the station just a few months before the infamous blizzard of January 1996, which buried the Philadelphia area under nearly 31 inches of snow, a single-storm record that still stands to this day.
"I was outside broadcasting because I was low person on the totem pole in terms of the meteorology department. I was outside for pretty much 18 hours straight," Tynan said in an interview with AccuWeather.
Tynan did not start her career with the intention of becoming a meteorologist. She attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where she double majored in politics and journalism, with the hopes of becoming a political anchor or reporter.
While in college she completed several internships with WDBJ, the CBS-affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia. WDBJ hired her part-time as a weekend news reporter while she was still in school. After about a year in that role, a position for a weekend weather newscaster opened up.
After practicing for many hours, Tynan auditioned and was hired for the role. Tynan said she then realized that the weather report is the most important part of the newscast.
"I found the challenge of meteorology exciting," Tynan said, and so she began taking classes in meteorology. She completed the classes after eight years and received her seal in meteorology from the American Meteorological Society (AMS).
Meteorologists are often doing a public service. They're alerting the public of potentially dangerous weather situations. Therefore, it is important that meteorologists are both trusted and respected, according to Tynan.
Tynan said that she has built a strong relationship with her viewers through her long career in Philadelphia, saying, "I feel so blessed to be working here for so long."
The rise of social media has opened new doors for Tynan, allowing her to develop a relationship with viewers that she did not have when she first started. Before, it was more of a one-way conversation, and she would only hear from viewers in rare letters and phone calls. Now, with social media, there is significantly more engagement.
Tynan said that the rise in social media has given her the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings. It also helps to create a loyal relationship with viewers and to keep them engaged in her broadcasts rather than using other sources to obtain the forecast.
Social media has also increased the viewers' ability to share negative responses, as it allows "trolls" to openly discuss their disapproval of broadcasters.
Both men and women fall victim to these critiques, but women tend to be especially critiqued for their physical appearance. Tynan said that has received a number of comments regarding her outfit choices and even some comments about her weight.
“Listen, I’m a meteorologist. I’m not a model. And I realize that you may not like all my outfits, and that’s fine. But I really don’t need to know about it,” Tynan said.
Tynan provided an example of a male anchor who wore the same exact suit and tie combination for a month and received no comments.
"I try to focus on bringing the conversation back to meteorology and to the weather, and show people that I’m actually a smart person," Tynan said. "You really want to be respected for what you do and not how you look."
Tynan said many of the social media critiques are from other women. She noted that women should raise each other up rather than tear each other down.
"Over the years, I have seen less and less [negative comments]," Tynan said. "I think that women are realizing that we really do have to support each other."
Since her start, the role of women in broadcast meteorology has changed.
“When I first got here, I was the only woman meteorologist. And now I think we actually have more women than men as meteorologists here in Philadelphia. I think we’re earning respect from the viewers," Tynan said. "The only people who typically call me ‘weather girl’ now are over 90.”
Tynan said that the leadership at her station has been doing a good job of treating women and men equally. She has also noticed an increase of women in managing roles at her station, as well as in other areas of the broadcasting industry.
Tynan encourages young women to pursue their passions and to work hard to achieve their dreams.
In 1995 when Tynan started at WPVI, "Action News" was still using an analog weather wall. Much has changed since then not only at WPVI, but for women broadcasters at the other local stations in Philadelphia -- and it all began with Tynan.
"Do really well in school, and if you want to be a meteorologist, do well in math and science," Tynan said. "Get a good education at whatever college is right for you and take it seriously."
Try internships to get your foot in the door, Tynan said. It’s hard in the beginning, but don't give up.
"It’s like anything. It’s hard to start, but if you love it and if you work hard, then good things will happen," Tynan said.Report a Typo