Fascination leads to career

It was quite a coup to get Southern California's only woman meteorologist on his team, KABC7 meteorologist and primary weather forecaster Dallas Raines said of his co-worker and protégé, La Cañada's native golden girl, Indra Petersons.

Petersons joined the television station's news team in 2004, and, after a few years of assisting Raines with forecasting and graphics, recently became a regular on-air weather forecaster at the Glendale-based, Los Angeles station. Petersons can be seen from 5 a.m. to noon weekends; she also provides the weekly ski and surf report and fills in on air at other times during the week.

“Indra is probably the prettiest weather caster I've ever seen,” Raines teased, with a smile. “She's also talented. I call Indra our 'Show and Go Girl.' She's not only beautiful, she's smart.”

Petersons developed a passion for weather as a youth growing up in La Cañada. But, unlike Raines, who was fascinated with the tornadoes he'd seen as a child growing up in Georgia, Petersons wasn't necessarily intrigued by Southern California's weather.

However, she grew up watching Raines on television and was fascinated with his fascination with the weather.

“Dallas is so enthusiastic about the weather and he teaches why things happen,” she said. “By watching his enthusiasm, somehow I became infatuated with and fell in love with the weather. Meteorologists are a strange bunch, we have a passion for weather and we get excited over every little change in it.”

Raines — who like Petersons is an American Meteorological Society certified meteorologist — began forecasting the weather on KABC about 24 years ago. The duo first met when Petersons was a high school student and she won a “Career For A Day, Day with Dallas,” where she got to shadow her mentor at the studios. A photo of a youthful Petersons with Raines, from that special event, is framed and sits on Raines' studio office desk.

But it isn't just her fascination with Raines' weather casting that early on foretold a future destiny with the elements for Petersons. Similar to Raines, she also was saddled with a moniker that held a meteorological connotation.

The middle child of Viesturs and Silvija Petersons, of La Cañada, Indra has two sisters, Brita, a 1997 graduate of La Cañada High School, and Astra, a 1994 graduate. The family is of Latvian heritage and Indra's name, although a common name in Latvia, is the same as the Hindu warrior Indra, who was a god of weather, sky, rain and thunder, the blonde beauty of Baltic ancestry enjoys telling.

While a student at La Cañada High School, she played volleyball, ran track, and was selected as a princess on the LCF Chamber of Commerce's Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court. She also was active in her church, which Raines also attends, La Cañada Presbyterian Church. Petersons graduated from La Cañada High School in 1998 and earned a bachelor of science degree in atmospheric sciences, with minors in math, physics and business from the University of Arizona. She later earned certification as a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association.

After college, Petersons went on to work as an on air meteorologist and reporter at KVIA news station in El Paso, Texas, and later KEYT in Santa Barbara.

However, Petersons always knew she wanted to return to KABC in Los Angeles, said Ivy Dai, a weather producer at the station. “Indra has great persistence and is pretty gutsy,” Dai said, after describing how Petersons called the station weekly to find out if there was an open position for her yet. “I'm serious, she called here every week,” Dai added.

“She came in the backdoor, started out here part-time and worked her way up to a position that people in this industry work their whole careers to aspire to. But, she launched to the top so fast,” Dai said. “Indra is really great. She's fun, she has a lot of knowledge, and she's the hardest worker I know.”

Petersons said she loves her work at KABC. One of her pleasures there is watching tours of schoolchildren visit the studio. “There's so many kids that come through that are future 'me' s,” she said, adding that it's easy to note the spark in the youths as they watch her or Raines talk about the weather and how and why weather phenomena occurs.

“It's more than a passing fancy, it's an obsession,” Raines said of the reason for the shared enthusiasm.

In addition to working together at the studio, the duo plans to share another element to their obsession next year. Petersons plans to accompany Raines and his wife and children on a tornado-chasing excursion. Raines and his family went tornado chasing last year with Tempest Tours. The thrill-seeking sport includes chasing twisters throughout the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and wherever the extreme forces of nature propel them.

“It's really exciting,” Petersons said. “The real fun is getting your plane tickets a day or two in advance. You never know where you'll end up going. It all depends on the weather.”

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