FRANKFORT — During the run-up to Kentucky's first big snowstorm this year, Kristie Allen decided she had seen enough apocalyptic weather coverage.
So she and her sister Heather Loman shot their first Pajama Weather Team video Feb. 16, during the first of two winter storms that gave Kentucky a one-two punch and piles of snow over a period of just over two weeks.
The Pajama Weather Team consists of Allen, her "cousin" Ronnie (who is Allen in a different robe, and more ornery), and either Loman or Allen's husband, Dan Allen, serving as cameraman.
The segments, first posted on Facebook and later to YouTube, drew the attention of The Weather Channel, which interviewed Kristie by Skype on March 13.
And a star was born.
"After you see the first 15 to 20 minutes it's all the same," Allen said of the increasingly urgent weather coverage during the storm that prompted creation of the pajama weathercast.
To launch the series, Allen donned a bathrobe — one of numerous bathrobes she owns — and stepped outside. The segments typically include Allen in a bathrobe with a hand-lettered note-paper badge identifying her as a member of the Pajama Weather Team, which she taps two to three times with her ruler.
She "is full of life and fun," said Jeannie Redmon, a mail carrier who met Allen when their daughters played softball together. Redmon participated in one taping.
The redheaded Allen is funny in a Sweet Potato Queens kind of down-home way. She describes her Pajama Team broadcasts as a clean and quick way to give people a chuckle. The broadcasts are always brief, some of them little more than a minute.
She thinks the Pajama Team's popularity is ephemeral, even though The Weather Channel was so pleased with her performance, broadcast via Skype during weather anchor Sam Champion's segment, that Allen was asked to return.
The humor in the team videos is sly but unfailingly cheerful.
"I don't know about you ladies, but this makes me think one thing — that it's time to shave the top of your big toe and put on some flip-flops," she said in her welcome-to-spring broadcast.
Cousin Ronnie gives a travel forecast: "I got two words for you: Pot. Hole."
Then she catches a child's toy car tossed from outside the frame and cracks: "I bet you ain't never seen Sam Champion or Jim Cantore catch a car on live TV, have you?" Cantore is a meteorologist on The Weather Channel.
Ronnie delivered snow cancellations. Top of the list was a pawn shop: "What, you had big plans today to go out there and get you a karaoke machine? You was going to get you an electric scooter? You was going to run out today and get you a crossbow so you could be like Daryl on Walking Dead, something like that? You ain't doing it today. Not happening."
Ronnie also advises viewers on what "survival food" to pick up: milk, bread and Oreos (with a side of non-grocery item toilet paper).
During another segment, a harried "assistant" for the Pajama Weather Team — again, Kristie Allen — denies phone requests from "Mr. Cantore" and "Mr. Meck." Bill Meck is WLEX-TV's chief meteorologist.
When "on location" near her house reporting on high water precautions, Allen coined the acronym "back away real fast," also known as BARF. She also likes using an air horn as video punctuation such as "snow alert" and "flood alert."
"If you put an air horn on it, all the rednecks in the country are going to share it," she said.
The weather videos are an answer to a letter Allen wrote to the Lord — literally — in which she asked for an avenue to better share her Christian faith. She is an active member of Camp Pleasant Baptist Church in Frankfort, where she preaches once a month.
"In my personal walk with the Lord, I have found that we are called to make disciples," she said.
But as someone who works from home, "I don't know a lot of people to share the Lord with," she said, adding that she doesn't regularly mention her faith in her weather videos, but she does in other videos she produces.
Allen, 47, is a software engineer for San Diego-based Symitar, which provides financial solutions to banks and credit agencies. She graduated from Shelby County High School and attended the University of Kentucky. She and her husband have four children and four grandchildren ages 2 months to 2 years.
When Allen began Pajama Weather Team, she didn't know how to edit video. She has since learned. When one of her sons, Kyle Aldridge, praised her for going viral, she responded that she might be viral, but only in Frankfort. One of her videos got more than 300,000 views, she said, and viral is casually defined as more than 500,000 hits.
She doesn't know how long she will continue to do the weathercasts.
"My friends are begging me to do it live at Wal-Mart," Allen joked. "There's a lot of pressure on me."