One of my favorite things about the media in Buffalo – without a doubt – is the fact that so many of the faces we see everyday are from right here in Western New York. Yes – many others are adopted by us and find love here in this beautiful area, but so many are local folks. I love that! Kaylee Wendt is one great example. As a meteorologist at Channel 4 – one thing is certain – she knows all about Buffalo weather patterns!
I caught up with Kaylee recently for a spotlight interview. She talks about her love of science, her love of animals, and of course, what makes her Totally Buffalo!
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself?
I graduated from Starpoint High School after going there since 5th grade. Before that, I went to George M. Southard which is part of the Lockport School District. I have an older sister named Mindy who very different from me, but is my best friend. I have the most supportive family in the world. They are all local and never miss a moment to share that their daughter works for channel 4. My mom is always watching no matter the time of day, and my dad volunteers me to work his club fish frys so he can introduce me to all of his friends and show me off.
I am an insane animal lover, but I especially love dogs. I love to read, go kayaking, and watch murder mystery shows. My favorite is How to Get Away with Murder.
Q: What made you get into meteorology? Have you always has a passion for the weather/science?
I always knew that I loved talking and communicating with people. When I was in kindergarten, a teacher at my school (who happened to be my neighbor) encouraged me to enter into oratorical contests. This allowed me to compete with other peers on our speech making and presenting abilities. I was pretty successful with this and that tipped me off that I could potentially have a career in communications.
I also always had an interest in weather. I remember being little, in my driveway rollerblading, looking up at storm clouds and being terrified. I had a million questions about what was going to happen (which I’m sure my parents loved) and that’s when the seed was planted. A true passion though didn’t develop until I took earth science in high school. My teacher, Mrs. Gilbride, noticed my passion and also my chatty ways and suggested I would be a great meteorologist. I looked into it and from there there was no stopping me. I went to SUNY Brockport and received my Bachelors of Science in Meteorology and have been at it ever since.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge doing weather in a place like Buffalo?
The biggest challenge forecasting in Buffalo is predicting lake effect snow events (no surprise there). Lake effect is so variable and because our viewing area goes all the way from Niagara county down to McKean and Potter counties in Pennsylvania, conditions are very different. It’s difficult to convey that message to viewers clearly without them saying, “the meteorologist is wrong again!”
Q: Craziest thing that’s ever happened on live television?
Live shots are incredibly hard to get exactly right for a million different reasons. Usually I am outside in bad weather conditions and once I was at Hoak’s (a restaurant along Route 5 in Hamburg known for bad weather) in a winter storm. The conditions were so bad that it was hard to see and the driveway had a thick sheet of ice over it. To stop me from blowing away in 50+ mph winds we strapped sandbags to my feet. A strong wind gust blew my hat over my eyes and almost knocked me down. This happened seconds before I was live on the air so when they came out to me I was screaming at the top of my lungs! Luckily I didn’t fall over and I was able to get it together after that.
Q: Do you hear from people who call or tweet or Facebook- if the forecast isn’t perfect? ?
I am constantly hearing from people on all social media outlets and in person if my forecast is a bit off (My family takes the cake on commenting and picking on me!) I don’t mind because it’s usually in good fun, but I do like to remind people that just because it didn’t rain/snow at your house, doesn’t mean it was the same everywhere around Western New York. I also like to remind people that I am a human trying to predict the future. That is a hard job!
One of my meteorology professors in college told us something on the first day of class that has always stuck with me. He said, ” When your boyfriend or girlfriend does something right, like bring you flowers or treats you nice, you remember for 30 seconds and move on. When they screw up, you remember forever.” That’s kind of how being a meteorologist is. If I tell you, it’s going to be nice and you head to the beach and it rains, well you remember, but if I say it’s going to be nice and it’s nice, it’s easier to forget.
Q: If you could cover weather anywhere – where would it be?
I honestly love covering weather here in Western New York. My first job in TV was in Rochester, NY and after I moved back home to continue to forecast here. I love that in the summer I can be outside enjoying the sunshine and all the fun festivals and events, but in the winter I can be standing next to Lake Erie getting blasted with snow and going tubing and skiing!
Q: Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I LOVE singing! I am non-stop singing in the car, walking around the newsroom, and at karaoke nights around town. In middle school and high school I was in musicals and various plays. In 8th grade, I played my favorite role which was Sandy in Grease. I will always bust out my best rendition of “Summer Nights” if asked!
Q: Best and worst parts about your job?
The best part of my job is that it’s different everyday. I get bored very easily and have so much energy, that the variability of this job is perfect for me. I also love meeting the people in Buffalo who make the city so awesome.
The worst part of my job is the ever changing schedule. It is difficult to make plans with people when things change so much in news but it’s just the nature of the beast.
Q: What makes you Totally Buffalo?
Aside from my love of Mighty Taco and chicken wings I think what makes me Totally Buffalo is my passion and pride for the city that I live in. I am always so happy to show my out of town friends the amazing architecture, the cool restaurants, the natural wonder of the world, that we get to live and walk around in everyday.
How sweet is she!? Thanks for your time, Kaylee.