Kristine Kahanek’s familiar face and voice soothes the uneasy, weather-related worries of Dallas-Fort Worth residents on Channel 11 (KTVT-TV), where she serves as chief meteorologist. But this mom of two aims to reach more than just television viewers with her weather expertise – Kahanek recently authored her first children’s book, Katie and the Magic Umbrella: A Stormy Adventure.
Just in time for Texas’ spring storm season, the working mom shares details of her happily harried life with kids, Savannah, 7, and Jared, 10, and her inspiration for helping kids keep their cool when the weather heats up.
WHO SHE IS
Inspired by her Air Force father, Kahanek received a college degree in atmospheric science from Texas A&M University. The grad worked behind a desk at the National Weather Service, where she quickly discovered her true desire to work in front of a camera lens.
Kahanek instantly took to TV, working at stations in both Waco and Austin as a weekend and morning weather reporter.
In Austin, the singleton met her future husband at a B.B. King concert – while she was on a date with another man. “We caught each other’s eyes a couple of times during the evening,” Kahanek laughs. “The next day, I was at the station and someone brought me a fax that read, ‘Will you go out with me? Check yes or no.’ I checked ‘Yes’ and sent it back. The rest is history.”
After their wedding, Jim (who’s also father to Lauren, 20) took a new job and relocated the newlyweds to Dallas. Kahanek’s career didn’t skip a beat: She snagged a spot at Channel 8 (WFAA-TV) reporting the morning weather.
The next four years of Kahanek’s life were marked with joy and sorrow. In 1998, the couple welcomed their first child, son Jared. The new mom quickly became pregnant again with daughter Katherine, who was still born just a month away from her due date.
Kahanek says, “I decided, with the support of Jim, to take a brief hiatus from TV.” During her time as a stay-at-home mom, she delivered daughter Savannah.
But Kahanek’s stint at home didn’t last long. After a three-year break, she debuted on-air as the first female chief meteorologist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on KTVT-TV, where she currently reports the afternoon weather.
WHAT SHE DOES
Kahanek rises early to start her daily routine of rousing the kids and preparing the twosome for school. But, as she points out, her 6am wake-up alarm isn’t nearly as early as she was once used to. Kahanek’s schedule as a morning weather reporter required the mom to rise at 3am in order to get to work and prepare to get in front of the camera.
Now, the reporter’s work schedule starts at 11am and runs until about 5:30pm; the working mom typically makes it home for story time, something that has become even more special for the family since Kahanek became a published author.
The meteorologist mom decided to pen an educational weather book (shown above) after receiving hundreds of calls from parents while on duty at the TV station. “Parents would call and ask for me to talk to their kids and explain the weather situation [if there had been a bad storm]. I thought a children’s book would be a great way to teach kids about weather and ease their fears,” she explains.
Authoring her first book was a family affair for Kahanek – she used her kids’ middle names, Alex and Grace, for the book’s main characters. Additionally, the book’s heroine (a guardian angel with a magic umbrella), Katie, is named in memory of baby Katherine.
“The book speaks to kids in a way they can understand – this is something that I would have never been able to do without being a mom,” Kahanek says. “When I got stuck on a part of the book, my kids would help me come up with ideas and ways to move along the story.”
When she’s not mapping out the latest weather patterns, Kahanek fills her (already packed) schedule with book readings at area elementary schools, planning a follow-up book, carpool duties and doing what she enjoys most: being at home with her family.
HOW SHE DOES IT
Kahanek abides by a schedule-driven lifestyle, making time in the morning (after carpool, and before heading to the studio) to tend to her book business affairs – or sneak in a strenuous yoga class. Once at the station, the mom whole-heartedly focuses on her passion for weather.
The family’s nanny greets the Kahanek kids at home after school, getting the youngsters settled and fed before mom and dad return.
“Motherhood is a juggling act,” she states, adding with a laugh, “Some weeks everything goes as planned … other weeks, not so much.”
But, despite the family’s busy regimen, Kahanek says she feels content with showing her children – particularly her daughter – that she can work outside the home and still keep her family first.
“It’s always going to be a struggle to make time for your own passions. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your mommy duties. But, it’s so vital for moms to do something that makes them happy,” Kahanek shares. “I hope my kids see me as a mom with a passion for what she does.”