Garrett and Ashley Lewis weather whatever storm comes their way
Garrett and Ashley Lewis weather
whatever storm comes their way
The only thing more unpredictable than Arkansas weather is the Lewis family’s schedule when storms roll through the area. As chief meteorologist for KFSM TV-5, Garrett Lewis, his wife, Ashley, and their two children are at the mercy of the ever-fickle Mother Nature. A line of severe thunderstorms or heavy snow and ice can mean long hours at work providing extended coverage to the viewing area for Garrett – and cancelled plans and extra parenting duties for Ashley. Despite the uncertainty that comes with life as a weatherman, the Lewis crew has learned to take advantage of the calmer days and roll with the punches that nature throws their way.
When skies are fair, Garrett’s typical workday is from mid-afternoon through the late-night broadcast. Ashley’s schedule is quite the opposite: She works days as a teacher in the Fort Smith school system. Each morning, she heads to Chaffin Junior High School, while Garrett takes their 4-year-old son, Graham, to school. Garrett spends the next few hours with 7-month-old daughter, Ellis, squeezing in time at the gym and other errands before dropping her off at the babysitter after lunch. He then heads into work to prep for the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts. Meanwhile, Ashley finishes her workday when classes dismiss, picks up Graham from his school and Ellis from the babysitter’s house and heads home.
“I am a single parent at night and he is during the day,” Ashley said. “But we make it work.”
The couple, who only get to spend about five waking hours together during the workweek, make the most of it. “We don’t have typical schedules and everything is very weather-dependent in our lives,” Ashley said. They carve out precious blocks of family time here and there. Between wrapping up the 6 p.m. and starting the 10 p.m. news, Garrett runs home and spends his dinner hour with his wife and children. “We eat together and cram in the kids’ baths, reading and putting them to bed,” said Ashley. “It is a lot to fit in, but it is important to us.”
Ashley and Garrett also make the most of their weekends, enjoying time together and taking care of household chores. They play catch-up on all the laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and spend time in the kitchen doing meal prep. “We get as much as we can ready for the week so that we can just throw things in the crockpot or cook up dinner quickly when we get home,” said Garrett. “It is one less thing to have to fit into our evenings.”
Ashley schedules photo shoots on the weekend, as well, as part of her growing business, A.B. Lewis Photography. “I have always enjoyed photography and, a few years ago, I was asked to do some portrait work,” Ashley said. “Since then, it has really taken off and I am at the point of having to turn down a lot of work because I just don’t have the time.”
Scheduling a family vacation is another task that often proves difficult. “Our lives are dictated so much by the weather and television ratings, which makes it hard to make big plans,” explained Ashley.
“The weather is unpredictable and you can only really look a few days out to know if you will be clear to take off,” added Garrett. “We have had to cancel vacations last-minute, fly back early and work on location.”
“We are really spontaneous people and we kind of have to be,” Ashley said. At New Year’s, the couple decided on a whim to head out of town. “We picked four cities in about 30 minutes, packed our bags and left,” she said.
That spontaneity has benefitted the couple since the beginning of their relationship. Married for 14 years, the pair met while in college. “He was actually dating one of my friends at the time,” Ashley joked. “Some weather was coming through and he wanted to go chase the storms, but she didn’t want to go. So, I said, ‘I will.’” And so began their romance.
While hectic, Garrett and Ashley are very grateful for the work they get to do and the life they have built together. His 15 years at KFSM have earned him a solid reputation as a dedicated meteorologist and a man with a genuine concern for the public’s safety. Ashley has infliuenced thousands of lives during her 13 years in education and is now using her talents to capture precious memories for families throughout the region. The two also are devoted parents and consider themselves true partners in their marriage as they strive to balance it from day-to-day.
With another storm season just around the corner, the pair is once again gearing up for a crazy few months of potentially long hours and unpredictable schedules.
“I really love what I do, but it is also nice to look forward to summer and the relative calm that it brings,” Garrett said.
The summer also will usher in a new chapter for the Lewises, as Ashley wraps up the school year and prepares to enter a new phase of her career and motherhood.
“We have decided that I am going to stay home this coming year and spend more time with our family and focusing on my photography,” said Ashley. “I am excited to have the time with Garrett, our children and to hopefully expand my business.”
So, what does Ashley do while her husband is warning the rest of us of a pending storm? “I’m just hoping the kids stay asleep!”
By Brittany Ransom
This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith magazine.
Photos by Bob Dyer.