Sunshine on a Cloudy Day
February 2019 Issue
by Meredith M. Deal
Photos provided by Kris Allred
Kris Allred is the dynamic Chief Meteorologist at WSAV in Savannah, Ga. For 11-plus years she has gained respect with viewers in Georgia and South Carolina for her professional integrity and candor. She is an excellent storyteller and a natural at public speaking. Also known as a good adlibber, Kris easily adjusts her narratives to meet audience levels. Most of all, she is a thankful woman who realizes the importance of the job she does. Yes, Kris and her Storm Team 3 at WSAV save lives.
While growing up in Cullman, Alabama, a town situated between Huntsville and Birmingham, Kris developed excellent childhood communication skills by learning to relate to all kinds of people from across the USA who paused to refresh and refuel at her family’s truck stop.
From age 17, she knew she would become a TV meteorologist, “I always knew and had a plan; I thought OK, the weather is going to be my career,” she smiled. Kris also loved twirling baton. So, she went down the road to the University of Alabama (UA), excelling in science studies and on SEC College Football weekends, she excelled as an Alabama “Crimson Ette” as part of the university’s Million Dollar Band. Next, she was off to Mississippi State, where she garnered a master’s degree in meteorology and official seal with the American Meteorological Society.
Kris’ first career venture was in the Omaha, Nebraska weather market. She learned TV tornado coverage like the back of her hand and was there three years. Then it was on to the chilly north in Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids, Michigan—yes, western Michigan. This is where her broadcast coverage often included Lake-effect snow. When the opportunity came for her to move to the Savannah, Georgia market, she was delighted to gain warmth in her life. But now, her weather coverage includes severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and more tornadoes. Laughing, Kris said, “I’ve created a career reporting on the top three USA weather patterns!”
When asked for the top three weather concerns of the South Carolina Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia her first word was, “Tornadoes. We’ve had a lot of tornado outbreaks recently. Climate change is also a concern. Whether you think it’s coming or not, there’s something in the air. And, hurricanes have patterns, such as in the 1890s; they come in packs. Right now, we have a similar hurricane weather pattern in our atmosphere.” As to equipment, Kris said, “the latest ‘thing’ in forecasting is Titan Radar. We get to use 3-D imagery, evening seeing the height of clouds as they cross an area.”
Kris also flew into Hurricane Sandy, but not literally. “In 2013, one night at 3 a.m., a group of us signed our waivers and went up in a Hurricane Hunters NOAA plane for 10 hours, flying in and out the storm several times at different heights. It was a unique experience.”
Sharing her love for science and weather, Kris likes meeting kids who visit WSAV on tour. “If they are old enough, I look at them and say, ‘Do you love math? Love science? If so, you will use it daily here. Do you mind talking in front of people? And you must learn to be an artist as well; we build our own graphics, and you must be able to write!’ I tell girls if they have a passion for this career, to go for it! Many boys are in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) – usually the numbers are 9 to 1 – but girls should not be intimidated; they should go for it!”
During Hurricane Matthew weather coverage in 2016, Kris’ Storm Team 3 went wall-to-wall in coverage for more than 24 hours. She stayed on-air by herself for 12 hours as Matthew blew through. “Those howling winds were very scary. I never went outside until the hurricane passed. Then, when I looked around, it was like a bomb had gone off.”
In the end, WSAV received both an Associated Press and Gabby Award for Hurricanes Matthew and Irma coverage and also for tornado coverage at US Army Base Fort Stewart. “We were respectful with these and continue with other storms for each one is unique. Matthew was devastation: Irma in 2017, was bad, too. And in 2018, we were in complete dread with Florence.”
Kris has found balance both on the job and in her personal life. “I work out each day. I run, do weights and kick box, too. I take care and try not to beat myself up too much. Sometimes the forecast is not ‘just right,’ and I might get a negative email, but I’m at the point now, I say to myself ‘they (emailer) must be having a bad day.’ So, I use kindness in return. I take care of myself first to take care of my kids and my career.”
And as a single mom who works until midnight, Kris shared, “I try to be with my kids in the morning; it’s not easy. Thankfully, we have great support.” Her son Eli is age 14, and daughter, Carson, age 12. “Eli is in a STEM school and is brilliant. He excels in math and loves sports. Carson gets straight A’s and has an A-type personality like her mom,” Kris laughed and continued, “the beds are made, homework is done. Her passion is dance.” Judy, Kris’ mom, has moved to Tybee Island and loves it. “And, we love having her nearby.”
Like many anchorwomen, Kris always looks sharp. How do they keep their fresh TV attire look? Kris happily divulged her secret: “You must not wear them (dresses) too close together. I cycle them out, and I try to wear clothes to reflect how I’m feeling on a particular day. I also wear my connective pack on my ankle, so it doesn’t bulk me up. All dresses look better if they are dry-cleaned ‘stiff’ for TV.” Joking, Kris added, “And after 19 years in this business, I’d love to wear my pajamas to work one day—like for a Friday night type of “chilling-out” themed weather forecast!”
Kris truly has an interesting life with a challenging and rewarding career. As we ended our time together, she revealed some eye-opening facts: “There are 3,500 meteorologists in the USA today. As a Chief Meteorologist, there are 800 people with my title in our country. And, only 30 Chief Meteorologists in the whole USA are women! This is still a male-dominated field with women at less than 10 percent, but our numbers are growing.” The best fact: Kris just signed another multiple year contract with WSAV as Chief Meteorologist.
WSAV On Your Side
Facebook: WSAV Chief Meteorologist Kris Allred
Follow on Twitter: @WSAVKrisA