The frequent snowfalls across the Bluegrass State this winter have meant headaches for everyone from school superintendents and bus drivers to snowplow operators and parents of kids with the winter blues. But it's been a boon for the man who tells them what to expect.
Meteorologist Chris Bailey, who worked at Lexington's CBS affiliate, WKYT (Channel 27), from 1998 to 2008, started his own Kentucky weather blog shortly after his departure. This season has been the best yet at Kyweathercenter.com, which focuses on the entire state and has had 7 million hits since Dec. 1, Bailey said last week. The site has also had about 16,000 comments posted this winter.
"We found our niche with winter weather," he said. "No matter if people love snow or hate snow, they want to know if it's coming."
Bailey said the site stands out because he focuses on more than just short-term forecasts.
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"I show the behind-the-scenes with the computer models that show two weeks down the road and the long-term forecasts with the summer ahead or winter ahead," he said.
Among the loyal followers of the blog is Tim Murley, superintendent of Warren County schools in Bowling Green.
"I just appreciate the way he updates it so much during a winter storm," Murley said. "He's always adding to it and trying to tell us which way it tracks."
As a school superintendent, Murley has his eyes on lots of meteorologists and complimented Bailey's accuracy."He's right more than anybody that I follow," he said.
The blog is also frequently watched by employees of the state's transportation cabinet, as they monitor weather and its effects on roadways.
"He does these wonderful graphics that show the snow line and how much snow we're supposed to get," said Allen Blair, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Highway's ninth district. "It's another tool I can use. We're not meteorologists here."
Bailey's roots in blogging traced back to about 2003, when he started a weather blog for WKYT.
"It kind of got a cult following at the time," he said. "It was literally one of the first weather blogs in the country."
When he left WKYT in 2008, he built the new site from scratch. It's a staff of one, just him, and is built off a GoDaddy.com template, though he plans to switch Web hosts in the summer and add new features like radar and satellite pages.
"I've just been blown away by the reception and the growth that it's had," he said.
But it's been a labor of love rather than a business. The site has one advertisement, a referral to KY Home Performance, which advocates for more energy-efficient homes.
"They approached me last fall," Bailey said, noting he hopes to add more advertisers in the future.
"If I'm going to upgrade the site and dive in and make the investment, I'll try to turn a little profit with it, though that's not the main objective," he said.
The objective is to share his love of weather with others. When he took a meteorologist job in 2008 at WSAZ in Huntington, W.Va., he told the station he planned to keep the blog. He not only kept it, he started doing another for WSAZ.
Said Bailey, "I've kind of cornered the market on weather blogging."