National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Cindy Matthews
Cindy Matthews

Location: Sacramento, CA
Sacramento Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
Job Title: Senior Service Hydrologist
Cindy Matthews


My name is Cindy Matthews and I am the National Weather Service, Senior Service Hydrologist in Sacramento, California. I was born and raised in a small town in Northern California where we spent every weekend exploring, fishing and camping on the local rivers and lakes. I was a curious child, with lots of questions: what do fish eat; why is the river muddy but the rain ended yesterday; will the river get high enough to flood Grandma’s house; how’s that dam stay in place; etc. By grade school I couldn’t get enough of science class and I found treasure chest of answers to all my questions, the library. I was lucky growing up because I had a mom who encouraged my need for answers and continually told me that I could do or be anything I wanted to, I just had to work hard for it. Later in high school I had supportive teachers and a counselor that encouraged me to think beyond my rural upbringing, to a larger perspective on the world of science and on my growing need to help other people.

I went to college at California State University, Chico knowing I wanted to do something in science. That was where I discovered hydrology.  This fed my science passion but it wasn’t until I joined the National Weather Service more than 27 years ago that I found a hydrology career that also fed my need to help people. I learned to forecast river stages, calibrate river models, and how to interpret those complicated science  details into information that is understood by people who don’t share my passion for science.

I am no longer the quiet, shy girl who graduated from college, but an assertive, confident woman who uses my skills to educate the public, media and emergency managers, so that they can take the appropriate action to protect us all from floods, dam breaks, tornadoes, blizzards, droughts, etc.  I’ve been fortunate my entire life to have supportive people that have encouraged me to do more, go past the barriers in my way, to prove to myself and anyone else that I can do anything.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my Mom, my science teachers, and all of my bosses in my career.  One support I didn’t have early in my life was a science oriented female role model or mentor.  I don’t want any other young woman to ever feel that she doesn’t have the support and aid to take on a science, technology, engineering or mathematic career.  One of the most rewarding parts of my job is the opportunity to mentor younger people. I have mentored Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school students, college students, children of friends, new employees, etc.  No one should have their careers restricted based on their gender, so I do everything I can to help everyone overcome those barriers.