By Millicent Martin Emery
If her dad hadn’t raced cars, Lindsey Monroe might not be a meteorologist today.
The 2007 Lincoln High School graduate became intrigued with practical applications of weather knowledge when she was young, thanks to her dad’s three-panel weather instrument that helped him track air pressure, humidity and temperature.
As she learned how those impacted how the car would run, her interest in the impact of weather on people’s lives grew. She liked applying what was going on in the atmosphere to real-world concerns and figuring out why one storm was really bad and another wasn’t.
Other experiences growing in up in Cambridge City also helped her on her path to become a meteorologist for WTHR in Indianapolis.
“Growing up in a small town, I appreciate being in the country, having a full view of the sky, watching a storm brew and getting motivated by your surroundings,” she said.
Monroe was a four-year gymnast and cheerleader at Lincoln High School. She also was active in 4-H, and in 2008, she served as Wayne County 4-H Fair Queen, making public appearances and speeches.
“It was my first glimpse of what it’s like to be in the public eye,” Monroe said.
During high school, she joined the Business Professionals of America organization and traveled to Indianapolis for state and New York City for national competitions. She said the experience helped frame her career plans.
After she graduated from high school, BPA began offering a news production project. Monroe has since helped judge that competition and is glad for the opportunity to share what she’s learned with the next generation of students.
Lincoln High School teacher and BPA adviser Bonita Klein said Monroe was a dedicated, focused student, and remembers her talking about her aspirations to become a meteorologist and her ultimate goal to broadcast the weather for an Indianapolis TV station.
“I was fortunate to watch her grow, mature and develop the needed skills for her career,” Klein said. “She has continued to give back to her school and the BPA organization by judging at the Regional Leadership Conference for several years. I have yet to watch her live on the air, but I know that WTHR is now my favorite morning weather station!”
Monroe encourages students from small towns to dream big and realize they can pursue those dreams even if they haven’t been able to learn about that career at their school. She said growing up in a small, tight-knit community made her a more well-rounded person.
“If you’re truly passionate about something and make it your primary goal and stay dedicated to that, you can do whatever you want,” she said.
For instance, Monroe competed at Ball State University against students who’d attended Carmel High School and already had hands-on experience at the school’s professional TV studio.
While studying meteorology at Ball State, she took a storm chasing class that included an 18-day trip to the Great Plains, putting her textbook knowledge to use.
After graduation from Ball State, she was the chief meteorologist at Terre Haute’s WTHI station for four years, and spent two years at Memphis Fox 13, but was glad for the opportunity to return to Indiana. She joined WTHR on Jan. 17.
She said people assume she wants to be on a national program such as “TODAY,” but she’s always had her eyes set on Indianapolis, and WTHR, the station she watched growing up, especially paying attention when severe weather would strike.
“I want to take everything I know about weather and be the trusted person for my friends and family to watch,” she said.
Monroe has quite a few family members who can see her on TV. She’s glad to move closer to her parents, Mike and Elaine Moistner; older sister Susan Hayven, who lives between Cambridge City and Connersville; younger brother Ethan, who lives in Fishers; and grandparents Carolyn and Melvin Moistner in Cambridge City. Monroe said her family has been in Cambridge City for generations.
She admits being star-struck as she met her new colleagues. WTHR has many longtime employees, and she’s now on a first-name basis with people she grew up watching.
And, she doesn’t have to go too far in her newsroom to find a colleague with area ties. Reporter Matt McCutcheon, a Connersville High School graduate, has a nearby desk.
Monroe is responsible for weather reports on the “Weekend Sunrise” show that begins at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. She also works alongside Chuck Lofton on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, producing graphics, tag-teaming with him if there’s inclement weather to report, and offering special reports as needed. For instance, last week, she was live at the Mount Comfort Airport, explaining the Super Blue Blood Moon.
Monroe said she’s looking forward to covering Indianapolis 500-related events in May. WTHR has exclusive rights to cover the 500 Festival parade and mini-marathon. Monroe was a festival princess in 2010, so she’s excited to help cover the event in her new role.
In the past couple of weeks, she’s been at the Indianapolis Home Show, and she’s also looking forward to being part of the station’s Circle of Lights broadcast when Monument Circle is lit for the holidays.
Monroe said she likes the challenge of studying weather models and then communicating that information to make it easier for those without a science background to understand.
She’s attended several weather conferences that include broadcasters as well as those who work in the private sector, such as insurance adjusters, or track weather for the government, such as the National Weather Service, and when they’re all together, their discussions focus on science.
Monroe said one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is helping residents prepare for severe weather in order to save lives and property. Forecasting has become more accurate in recent years, thanks to the help of technology.
“The science has gotten better, but it’s still an imperfect science,” Monroe said. “There are so many variables in place.”
For instance, a fluctuation of 1 degree can mean the difference between rain, freezing rain or snow, she said. Meteorologists can forecast events up to five days in advance, and usually predict the temperature within three degrees. It can be frustrating to hear meteorologists are always wrong when they’re usually right at least 80 percent of the time, Monroe noted.
She said meteorologists go to school for a minimum of four years, and some have master’s degrees. They also go through a certification process.
Monroe said all TV employees focused on weather do research, make graphics and ad-lib their presentation on the air without teleprompters.
“Gone are the days when you can throw anyone in to read the weather,” she said.
She said she’s glad to receive so much support and welcoming notes from Cambridge City-area residents on social media congratulating her on her new job.