Metro-East Living

KMOV meteorologist is a little jealous of storm-chasers

KMOV meteorologist teaches Belleville students about weather

KMOV's Kristen Cornett visited Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Belleville to talk to students who are learning about the weather.
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KMOV's Kristen Cornett visited Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Belleville to talk to students who are learning about the weather.

Eleven-year-old Andy Weir provided a bit of comic relief with his question to KMOV meteorologist Kristin Cornett at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School on Thursday.

“What would happen if you jumped into a tornado?” the Belleville fifth-grader asked.

“Well, why would you want to?” Cornett responded, prompting a round of laughter from 40 students who had gathered in the school gym to hear her speak.

Cornett had just shown them photos of flattened houses, mangled cars and other devastation caused by tornadoes. Not to mention Dorothy’s fate in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“I was just curious,” Andy said with a grin.

It was principal Claire Hatch who invited the TV station to send a meteorologist to talk to fifth- and sixth-graders. They’ve been studying weather.

“We like to have guest speakers who can teach them more than they can learn in the classroom,” Hatch said.

Some students were interested in Cornett’s high-profile career. Was she camera-shy when she started 21 years ago? (Yes.) What time does she get up for early-morning news broadcasts? (2 a.m.)

Cornett emphasized that does her own hair and makeup.

“When you are observing a storm, do you get scared?” asked fifth-grader Kejuan McDonald, 11.

“When there are storms, guess where I’m at? I’m in the studio,” she replied.

Cornett likes to play it safe, but she admitted that she sometimes gets jealous of storm-chasers in the middle of the action.

“If you weren’t a meteorologist, what would you be? asked fifth-grader Ellen Brannan, 10.

“I would probably live in Hawaii and study volcanoes,” Cornett said, describing herself as an “earth science geek.” “I’m just fascinated by them.”

Personal questions aside, Cornett spent most of her time at Blessed Sacrament educating students about severe weather and what they should do when it hits.

“The basement is always the best option,” she said. “Tornadoes do a lot of things, but they don’t dig.” (Vehicles are the worst option.)

Students learned the difference between thunderstorms and severe thunderstorms, storm warnings and watches, tornadoes and funnel clouds, radar and Doppler radar.

“I didn’t really know that there were different numbers for the different (levels) of tornadoes,” said sixth-grader Tess Schnieder, 12.

“Whenever I hear a tornado siren, I’ll just go down to my basement,” said fifth-grader Tommy Riley, 11.

Cornett grew up in Lexington, Ky., and studied meteorology at Mississippi State University. She worked at four other TV stations before joining the KMOV staff 10 years ago.

Her nearly round-the-clock weekend schedule works well for her family, she said. “My husband is a firefighter.”

Cornett ended the presentation by posing with students for a group photo. It will be shown on KMOV between 7 and 8 a.m. Sunday.