Madryga serious about the weather and energy efficiency
Surveys show that we trust weathermen more than any other media personalities, and news station weather reports are often the most watched segments. British Columbians have relied upon Global TV’s senior meteorologist Mark Madryga to help us make our daily plans over 4,000 times in the past 16 years. Madryga takes that seriously.
"Sometimes I feel almost responsible for the weather,” he admits. “As a forecaster, being wrong happens, but it’s my job to be right, and if I’m wrong I get teased about it by everyone, including on-air newscasters. I used to lose sleep over weather changes and still do during big storms.”
Madryga explains that extreme forecasts shut down ferries and the port, and cost construction, film, and BC Hydro crews substantial money, in addition to dampening outdoor leisure plans. But underestimations can be devastating, too.
“Log boom operators need accuracy," he says. "If the winds are even slightly higher than forecasted, they can lose the entire load. We’ve been a little off before and they’ve let me know their disappointment.”
Madryga’s a self-described keener. Even on weekends when he’s not working he’ll scan the data just in case someone asks: “I can’t say I don’t know what the weather will be like because I’m off!”
Instead of calling the weather office, staff from newspapers and radio stations will call Madryga on his cell phone at any time to ask for forecasts.
You may not need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, as Bob Dylan famously sang, but since meteorologists’ reliability has improved significantly in recent decades, many people look to them for climate-change and environmental guidance. That may be one reason why BC Hydro asked Madryga to join Team Power Smart.
“I felt that I could help get the word out about conservation and encourage the public through TV, radio and guest speaking,” says Madryga. “But first I had to have good practices of my own.”
Madryga really gets Power Smart
At home, Madryga is living up to his Team Power Smart Leader status by:
- Trying to keep his showers short and using a water-saving showerhead;
- Drying clothes on an indoor rack;
- Replacing incandescent lights with CFL bulbs;
- Using economy settings on the dishwasher;
- Recycling everything he can;
- Shutting off computer power bars at night;
- Unplugging electronics and appliances and turning lights off when they’re not being used;
- Keeping the thermostat low.
In addition, to limit emissions from his long commute to work, Madryga drives a hybrid Honda, and tries to walk the few blocks to pick his daughter up from school.
Madryga admits that turning the heat down has been a challenge for his wife, Laureen. When she arrives home from work there’s a chill in the air, so sweaters are a necessity.
But Laureen isn’t the only one who’s had to make a difficult change. Madryga’s vice: long, hot showers. Since he has to be up at 3 a.m. to be at Global at 4 a.m., lingering under the running water is tempting.
“We’re beginning to see reduced costs, but I’m not sure if it’s because the weather has been warmer this year," he says. "I can be a little tight with the buck, so I like saving money on my energy bill!”
Though the weather can be serious business, Madryga keeps his sense of humour. For impact, he likes to report on the weather from various locations. A case in point: the time he did the forecast while immersed in Kitsilano Pool. And then there was that time he wrapped an albino python around his neck.
But even those creative weather forecasts didn’t have the most impact. Instead, it was Madryga tobogganing to show good snow conditions. “I was showing off, going down the hill after the forecast, went flying through the air off the toboggan, and severely dislocated a shoulder when I landed – and it was all on TV," he recalls.
This story appears in the May issue of Gardenwise Magazine.
You live in the Victoria area?: BC Hydro Power Smart is working with the Capital Regional District and Madryga on the CRD's upcoming 1,000 clotheslines giveaway to Victoria-area residents in June. Check www.crd.bc.ca in early June for details.