April 30, 2020
When TV meteorologist Jeff Lyons of Channel 14 News in Evansville, Indiana, set up a green screen at home during the coronavirus lockdown in order to do his 10 p.m. live report, he didn’t know that, out of adversity, a star would be born, reports The Washington Post.
Three weeks into his new routine, things were going pretty smoothly when Betty—Lyons’ 11-year-old cat— showed up for her closeup: Shortly before Lyons’s three-minute weathercast on April 13, Betty sauntered out from beneath the dining room table for a little attention from her owner.
He cradled his gray and white longhair feline in both arms and introduced her to his viewers. Betty lazily looked at the camera and twitched her tail. That’s all it took for the station’s viewers to fall in love.
The next morning, Lyons posted a screen shot to his Facebook page of him holding Betty in front of the weekly Evansville forecast. “I didn’t think much of it,” he told the news outlet, “but then I got a text from my nephew. He said, ‘My God, you’re trending on Reddit.’”
That was his first inkling that Betty was becoming a celebrity. But Lyons had no idea just how famous she would become. She is now so popular that she has her own Instagram page and is on the Channel 14 weather segment most nights with her own “Betty the Weathercat” graphic.
Lyons built a small “throne” for her next to his green screen, and he uses computer-animated graphics of Betty as a catalyst for his forecast. (An umbrella on her tail means that rain is on the way, while sunny skies usually get a paws-up.)
Viewers regularly leave comments for Betty, along with snapshots of their own cats.
“I think she will need a raise soon,” wrote one fan. “That 1 can of tuna is just not gonna cut it.”
“So long Jeff, it has been great watching you over these past years!” posted another. “Betty has taken over! She is a purrrfect meteorologist!”
Lyons, who has worked at Channel 14 for the past three decades, said he learned a long time ago to have fun while doing the weather. “When the weather is threatening, you have to be serious, but for the rest of the time, it’s important to be happy,” he said. “My sense is that people want a diversion right now during this horrible pandemic. They’re looking for something that’s kind of fun. So at least for now, doing the forecast with Betty fits right in.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost