Helping the 'WABBLES' community: a look into the mission of WXorNot BG
A local weather enterprise based in Bowling Green has stepped away from traditional meteorology to provide community members with information that’s easy to understand.
Landon Hampton is the founder, owner, and lead meteorologist of WXorNot BG (pronounced “Weather or Not BG”). The community-supported, hyperlocal digital weather service serves residents in Warren, Allen, Barren, Butler, Logan, Edmonson, and Simpson counties, or what WXorNot BG refers to as the “WABBLES” community.
WXorNot BG provides weather analysis and interpretation for those seven counties in southern Kentucky.
“Whenever we have severe weather that’s going on, we get so many photos of people in their safe spaces, and they’re watching us and they’re texting their family members,” Hampton said.
“Whenever individuals and the public put the word out and they share that information, it helps us in our exposure… but at the same time, this catalyst is for you to use as a tool in whatever manner you please.”
Hampton graduated with a degree in meteorology from Western Kentucky University in 2010 and went on to work in the commercial broadcasting sector. But he said he found it difficult to serve the community properly.
“Whenever you have 40 to 50 counties to cover, you really spread yourself thin, especially whenever there are ongoing weather events and things are happening,” Hampton explained.
“You can have significant weather taking place in far more than one particular area. So, the focus that we wanted to do is to be able to really trim down our coverage area.”
WXorNot BG provides live streaming on, Facebook and YouTube they share information on social media outlets like Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter, with over 16,000 followers, and they keep up to date information on their website, where people can find live skycams and a WABBLES radar.
“Not just about forecasting”
WKU Professor of Meteorology Josh Durkee said the idea of digital meteorology, a new and more modern way of disseminated weather information, was pioneered by James Spann, a meteorologist in Alabama.
Durkee and Hampton used inspiration from Span’s model to create WXorNot BG.
“There’s nothing like this here,” Durkee said.
“He (Hampton) basically took the idea and ran with it and its successful, but the beauty of it is that it’s become a thing that is tied to our meteorology program even today.”
In addition to being the head of the digital weather enterprise, Hampton also oversees a WXorNot BG team made up of four WKU meteorology students, also known as contributors.
Those contributors are responsible for posting weekly weather blogs and they also create info graphics or weather stories for social media.
Samantha Taylor hit her second anniversary with the weather enterprise this year. She says working as a contributor allows her to learn difficult concepts while also relaying those concepts to people who may not fully understand.
“There’s so much fear surrounding meteorology and climatology and things that could be eased if somebody were to just walk the public through what we see on our end. WXorNot BG’s goal is just to provide reassurance and comfort to people and help them learn things,” Taylor said.
“We have people who send in questions all the time and ask, ‘Oh, what does this mean on my radar?’ or ‘What can we do if this happens?’ They want to learn. They’re interested. We just have to be able to provide that supplementary education for them.”
Contributors work with Hampton to provide these weather resources but Tatiana Barr, another WXorNot BG contributor, said it goes beyond analysis and interpretation.
“Landon really pushes on the idea that it’s not just about forecasting, you really want to get involved in your community. We actually gave a talk on weather safety to a couple hundred 4th graders as well as some of their teachers for Agriculture Safety Day,” Barr said.
WXorNot BG conducts outreach throughout the region during school visits, educating students on weather awareness.
Hampton also works with college contributors on their personal development.
“We’re working on personal finance right now,” WKU student Tatiana Barr said. “So, he also sets us up for not just our career, but our future in the sense of our personal self.”
During WXorNot BG meetings, half of the time is spent discussing weather while the other half of the meeting is dedicated to a specific topic, like finances or mental health.
December 2021 Tornado Outbreak
Both Barr and Taylor share the sentiment that WXorNot BG allows them to keep people safe in real time with the help of community members especially in times of severe weather like the December 2021 tornado outbreak that killed 74 Kentuckians.
“The epitome of the vision of why WXorNot BG was created took place that night,” Hampton explained.
Hampton said his heart still breaks thinking back to the storm, but he says the devastation gave the community the opportunity to become more weather aware. He recalled a pivotal moment in WXorNot BG’s coverage of the deadly storms.
That night, the tornado tore through Logan County and was headed to neighboring Warren County. Once the tornado passed, a Logan County resident went outside to assess the damage.
“After he got his family out and everyone was safe, he turned around and he snapped this shot of his house with the roof gone. His car headlights are on it, it’s still raining like crazy, and he tweeted that photo to us, and he said, ‘This thing is real. It’s happening. Listen to WXorNot BG and get to your safe space now,’” Hampton said.
“Us retweeting that and sharing it to our Facebook feed and Instagram and to all of our outlets--I am still completely sold that that gentleman saved more lives that night then anyone did.”
Hampton says that’s what WXorNot BG is all about, providing reliable and relatable weather information with modern meteorology and with the help of a community that wants to keep each other safe.
“We are the community, and the community is us. It’s serving the community first and foremost and whenever you serve the community; they serve you,” he said.
“Whenever you care about the safety of other people and what they want, they care about what you want too. We don’t have readers or viewers or anything like that, we have a WABBLES region full of ambassadors.”