Matt Noyes '96
Pursuing a dream through sleet, snow and hurricanes
By Tana Sherman
As a 10-year-old growing up in Haverhill, Mass., Matt Noyes cut weather maps out of the newspaper, put them in a photo album and created his own five-day forecasts. He thought every kid shared his intense interest in the weather. His father, a state trooper, and his mother, a teacher, encouraged Matt to keep an open mind and find a career he loved.
Noyes has found his dream job as the weekend meteorologist for New England Cable News (NECN), the largest regional cable news network in the country. Each weekend, 2.8 million New England households in 763 communities can watch Noyes predict snowstorms, hurricanes or sunny beach days. At 23, he is one of the youngest broadcast meteorologists in the country.
“Rather than a job, it’s a passion,” he says. His favorite event to forecast is a winter storm. “There are few times the public can see exactly how good or bad my forecast was. If I call for a chance of scattered showers and half the people get them, those people think I’m a genius and the rest think I’m an idiot. But with a winter storm, anyone can walk outside and stick a ruler in the snow and see if they got as much snow as I said they would.”
His love of meteorology began with Hurricane Gloria in l985. “I remember sitting in the front window of my house as a fascinated 6-year-old, watching the trees swaying back and forth,” he says. He attended Hampstead Academy in Hampstead, N.H., where his mother was one of his teachers from second through eighth grades.
Of coming to PA as a day student on a scholarship, he says, “My time at Andover brought exposure to countless new ideas and perspectives—some I agreed with, some I didn’t and some I wouldn’t come to truly understand until later.” A member of the crew team, he says coach Peter Washburn was a strong influence.
With his interest in meteorology continuing, Noyes applied to the atmospheric sciences program at Cornell, in spite of his struggles with math and physics. He was accepted and credits his success to the individual attention given to each of the 11 students in his class. He got his first broadcasting experience at the Ithaca College TV station. The summer after his freshman year, he interned at Boston’s Channel 7 with meteorologist Harvey Leonard. “He taught me a lot about New England weather,” says Noyes. “New England is a Mecca for meteorologists, because it’s the only place you can get just about everything, from winter storms and summertime thunderstorms to hurricanes and tornadoes.” Before his senior year, Noyes interned with the National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Md., where the nation’s experts on precipitation forecasting work, and he returned the following winter to study winter storms.
After receiving a B.S. degree in atmospheric sciences in 2000 from Cornell, he spent two years as the morning meteorologist for a television station in Binghamton, N.Y. One of his favorite activities was visiting schools and getting children excited about meteorology. “Kids are so enthusiastic about weather. Their eyes light up when you’re talking about storms,” he says. “There’s no greater feeling than having somebody listen to you and soak everything up like a sponge.” He also taught introductory meteorology at Broome Community College in Binghamton.
Noyes joined the weekend team at NECN, headquartered in Newton, Mass., in June 2002 and returned to live in his hometown of Haverhill. “For me, my dream has come true. As long as New England wants me, I want to be here,” he says. “My goal is to help dispel the general perception of meteorologists—that we are 50 percent right 50 percent of the time.”
Since he crams his entire workweek into the weekend, working 20-hour shifts each Saturday and Sunday, the rest of the week is free for other interests. He loves being outdoors—hiking, fishing, skiing and boating—but he never leaves his meteorological skills behind. “Anytime I’m out in a boat, it’s nice to be able to look around and see the clouds building and know where I need to go to avoid the worst weather,” he says.
What would he advise students who discover a passion for a particular field? “Absolutely don’t give up on it,” says Noyes, “just because those around you don’t think it’s attainable. A lot of people told me not to go into a field that focuses on my weaknesses—math and physics—and predicted that I would struggle. But the best feeling is to go to work and absolutely love what you’re doing every day.”