We are delighted to introduce you to a true force of nature – Lisa Hidalgo, the renowned ABC7 Denver meteorologist. With her passion for weather Lisa has become an inspiration to countless individuals. Today, she graciously opens up and shares her journey, revealing how it all began. Prepare to be inspired as we delve into the captivating story of Lisa Hidalgo, a meteorologist like no other.
Can you share with our readers what led you to become a meteorologist and the steps you took to accomplish your professional goal?
I always knew that I wanted to be in broadcast news, but I didn’t start my career in weather. My first job was in Grand Junction as a news anchor where I made a whopping $13,500 a year. It was nearly impossible to cover my bills every month and my father almost lost his mind when he found out. I absolutely loved it, but I figured out pretty early on that the “news” aspect of this job wasn’t quite matching my personality. This career requires a lot of relocating. In the first few years, I moved from Grand Junction to Colorado Springs (as a photographer) and then to Las Vegas. It was in Las Vegas that I decided to go back to school for my meteorology degree and then transition into weather!
As an icon in the industry, have you faced any unique challenges or barriers, and how did you overcome them to achieve your current level of success?
This business has changed so much in the last 25 years. Years ago, chief meteorologists were primarily men. Now we see many more women in STEM-related careers and many of them are running their station weather teams. I got into this career at a time when women were starting to make more of a mark so I’m thankful to have those trailblazers as mentors.
Denver is known for its ever-changing weather. What do you find most fascinating and challenging about reporting on weather patterns in the Denver area?
Colorado’s crazy weather is one of the reasons why I fell in love with this field. You grow up in Colorado knowing that if you don’t like the weather…then just wait five minutes! Our beautiful Rocky Mountains make my job extremely challenging but also very fulfilling. In Las Vegas, the forecast didn’t change much. I got really bored with saying, “sunny and hot” over and over again. So moving back to Denver was a treat and I’ve learned so much over the past two decades when it comes to our weather patterns and storms. I wish it was a perfect science, but it’s not, so please be gentle if we get it wrong. Hahaha!
We know you are a prodigious planner and your planners are stunning works of art! Can you share your approach to using planners and how they have helped you set and achieve your personal and professional goals?
The simple answer is that I love paper, markers, and stickers. So any excuse to purchase absurd amounts of stationery products – I’m in! I’m still trying to find my favorite style, but as of late, I have been bullet journaling. I love being able to create my own design and decorate it the way I want. I’m using my current planner as a calendar/keepsake combo. I also found that this kind of planning is extremely relaxing and forces me to sit down and take a couple of hours every week to get things in order.
Weather reporting often involves irregular hours and unpredictable conditions. How do you maintain a work-life balance and stay organized in such a demanding profession?
I have to write it all down. I tried really hard (trying to appease my husband) to use my iPhone calendar, but I found that I needed to physically write it down if I was going to make it happen. My work-life balance does feel a little insane sometimes. I wake up at 2:45am and typically don’t go to bed until 9:00pm. I make my afternoon nap a priority so that I can be there for my girls and get them to all of their after-school activities. I am thankfully a morning person and don’t need a lot of sleep, but this schedule is not the easiest and I often feel like I’m operating in zombie mode. I don’t think I’d have it any other way, but I definitely couldn’t do it without my planner.
Weather anchors often play a crucial role in keeping the community informed and safe during extreme weather events. Can you share a memorable experience when your reporting made a significant impact on your viewers’ lives?
On May 22, 2008, I was in the middle of forecasting during our 11 am newscast. I looked down at the radar and noticed a cell developing across the northeastern plains. We were predicting storms that day, but this was forming a lot earlier than what we typically see. Within minutes, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning and I immediately told our producers that we needed to get this on air as soon as possible. A tornado did indeed develop and tore through the town of Windsor that morning. It ended up being a unique storm in many ways, where it formed, when it formed, and the direction it traveled. It was a good reminder that while I have a lot of fun with my coworkers on air, what we do can really impact our viewers. We were able to get critical information to people that day and potentially save a lot of lives.
What advice or tips would you offer to aspiring meteorologists interested in entering the field of weather reporting?
I do a lot of school visits every year and I always tell the kids to read, read, read. And then read some more. Not only do books open up our minds, but it’s truly what keeps my brain firing every morning when our show starts at 4:30 am. I don’t have a prompter so everything that comes out of my mouth is adlib. I find that reading keeps me sharp and keeps the words flowing and (usually) make sense. I would also tell students to face the fear of an audience. Being able to talk in front of a large group of people is a gift and something that can help them in every field!
Do your daughters want to follow in your footsteps?
That’s a funny question. We found out at an early age that they both have a stage presence (and can truly ham it up like mom) but at this point, one wants to be a lawyer and the other wants to own a beauty salon. I told them that I could use both! This business has changed so much over the last few decades and it continues to change. It definitely wouldn’t look the same if they got into television within the next ten years.
Please provide us with your signature quote or words of wisdom that you live by.
I think it’s funny when people ask for my autograph, but it’s also very sweet and humbling. When they do, I always sign my name and then “sunshine and smiles.” It’s a little corny but hey, Colorado is known for its sunshine and I’m a true believer in smiling. It’s good for the soul and you never know when a simple smile could also change someone else’s day.