University of North Carolina Charlotte, B.S. in Meteorology
Kit grew up in the Piedmont of North Carolina outside of Charlotte, spending most of his childhood in Belmont, an old mill town on the Catawba River now grown into a bustling suburb. He had a passion for mathematics and science through grade school, having ambitions to become an architect, engineer, theoretical/astrophysicist, or geologist, but eventually choosing to pursue Meteorology. He went to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to obtain his degree, taking all electives on atmospheric sensing, tropical, and mesoscale meteorology for a full, in-depth understanding of the atmosphere (though he maintains on every hike, he should have taken more geology classes!) He interned at WCNC in Charlotte, learning the craft of presenting off-script and how to tell a weather story. After Graduation, he worked in the Quad Cities at WHBF-TV and KLJB-TV, the CBS/Fox affiliates. From there, he moved to Grand Island, Nebraska at KSNB-TV, the NBC affiliate for Central Nebraska. The active winters and severe seasons kept him busy, experiencing a wide range of wild weather. He remembers the most impactful event in March of 2019, when a massive snowmelt, heavy rain, and blizzard all struck the state in 36 hours. Kit later moved to the Denver area taking a job as a Producer with WeatherNation. He was brought on as a full-time on-air meteorologist in June of 2022 and can now be seen with the rest of the team on WeatherNation! You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @KitCwx.
Q&A with Kit Cloninger
What inspired you to become a meteorologist?
Growing up in the Carolinas, I was surrounded by active weather. Seeing my local meteorologists on TV explain the weather fascinated me and was the main reason I would watch the news with my parents. I would rent a four-part documentary about the weather from my local library often, and became obsessed with weather. I would explain anything I learned about it to anyone who would (or wouldn’t) listen, and it became clear that the career path for me would be in broadcast meteorology.
What is your most memorable weather experience?
In 2002, a massive ice storm hit North Carolina. Growing up outside of Charlotte, I remember when the storm hit. We had almost an inch of freezing rain, with sleet on top of that. The night of the storm, the sky lit up with distant blue flashes of transformers blowing through my hometown. The younger trees in our backyard woods were laying on the ground, bent over from the weight, and wouldn’t recover. We didn’t have power back on for a few days after the storm hit, but the sight of the crystalized trees and grass had me transfixed. Ice storms can be deadly, but the meteorology which causes them is one of my favorite setups to watch unfold.
Outside of weather, what are your hobbies and interests?
I’m an avid gamer, streaming games online playing with friends creating and exploring, experiencing stories told in an interactive medium. My fiancé and I also enjoy hiking and backpacking, with the Rockies being a frequent destination on the weekends. Outside of the mountains, I’ll bike along the trails of Denver. I enjoy films across many genres, especially fantasy and science-fiction. I also enjoy music, in particular how it is evolving to bring in technology in electronic music, adding so many layers of sound to a composition.
Besides your parents, who as influenced you the most in your life?
I’m a firm believer that we are a mix of so many people you meet. My humor comes from my friends, my heart comes from my family, and my love for science comes from many passionate instructors. My fiancé, Jordan, has been by my side for several years now and has helped me grow as an adult. His encouragement and drive have pushed me forward not only in my career but in my own maturity as well. Learning to love myself for who I am, and be open about who I am with has been such a liberating experience, and Jordan supported me through years of struggle. I came out as bisexual professionally in the winter of 2021, and can’t emphasize enough the importance of being yourself in the most genuine manner.
What is a little known fact about you?
In college while studying Meteorology, I was also a member of the Fencing Club for four years at UNC Charlotte. The combat system utilizing a sword was one I felt most in tune with: quick, precise motions to get the touch, but also having to read your opponent and react in step with their motions as well. I have recently picked back up my sabre, joining a local academy in the Denver area.
What are your hopes and dreams for the profession of weather?
I hope that we evolve with the times communicating weather and climate information. Folks aren’t sitting down for the six ‘o’clock news as much anymore, so we need to meet them where they are at when they consume weather information. Apps give a general idea of whether you need a jacket or not, but none give you detailed information about imminent threats like tornadoes and blizzards. I feel like a lot of bad information is out there regarding weather, with social media zealots using clickbait and fear tactics to grow their reach while providing unreliable and inaccurate information. I also hope that we can improve communication regarding climate issues in an approachable and informative manner. Knowing what is happening with our climate is the first step, and I feel more can be done now and in the future to bring forward the science of the matter. Just like we have the goal of giving out warning information in severe weather, I hope we can bring the same level of urgency to the climate discussion.