The Weather Man

Sophie de Bruijn, Web Features Editor

For many Staples students, snow loses its nostalgic appeal long before the last Christmas lights are taken down.

But, for Scott Pecoriello ’15, the online account to Weatherbell Analytics he received for Christmas was the perfect gift, and the impending early February snow storm was a dream come true.

“It was literally heaven for a guy like me. It doesn’t get better than two feet of snow, wind gusts over 50 miles per hour, and snow drifts so high it was tough to get out the door,” Pecoriello said.

Since the age of four, when he first started hand drawing storm maps from weather.com, everything weather-related captivated Pecoriello. His interest soon developed into a passion as he studied meteorology independently via weather forum pages in seventh grade.

By age 12, Pecoriello took the initiative to create his first blog forecasting weather in the Northeast. “It really started out as more of a private thing,” said Pecoriello. “Pretty much no one read it except for my family, and I had a total of eight followers.”

But, in 2011, inspired by Jacob Meisel ’13 and other online weather gurus, Pecoriello decided to switch to a more public forum by creating his Facebook page, “Wild About Weather,” which recently exceeded 4,200 followers.

“It’s such a good feeling to know that so many people trust you and rely on you as a forecaster,” Pecoriello said. “I even get comments from companies saying they use my information to make business estimates.”

As numbers increased by hundreds after every storm, Pecoriello advertised his page minimally, allowing his dedication and accuracy to speak for itself. As Westporters struggled to recover from damaging Hurricane Irene, Pecoriello was celebrating that he broke 1,000 followers.

Pecoriello’s dedication is essential to the success of his page. During Superstorm Sandy, he relied on an internet card to keep the page updated while huddling under blankets in his heatless, powerless house. In the early stages, he even snuck his phone into camp over the summer to keep the page current over break.

Kevin Watt ’15, one of Pecoriello’s closest friends, admires his dedication and commitment to the page. “I don’t think anyone who knows Scott has been around him without seeing him do the weather,” he said. “Whether in class or at home, he’s always comparing models and gathering as much data as he can.”

Once Pecoriello catches wind of a storm, he updates his page with easy-to-understand forecasts and uploads the incredibly detailed maps he creates on the computer program “Paintbrush.”

“Each map takes between 45 minutes to an hour or two,” Pecoriello said. “I get way too into it sometimes. I’m a total perfectionist about it.”

Pecoriello has distinguished himself by covering not only Fairfield County, but the entire Northeast region. He gears his forecasts to the common man by writing in easily understood language, as opposed to incomprehensible weather jargon.

“I’m not at all looking for just weather geeks and nerds to understand me,” he said. “I focus on making it easily comprehensive for my whole audience.” Pecoriello pinpointed the most recent storm in early March, nearly four weeks before it actually hit, giving his followers advanced notice and time to prepare properly.

“Wild About Weather” has reached a far wider audience than Pecoriello intended. The page has reached international success, with 42 followers from Canada, 19 from the United Kingdom, 13 from Australia, and 8 from Italy. Despite these impressive numbers, Pecoriello’s most popular area is New York City, closely followed by Philadelphia, and, finally, Westport.

A month ago, Pecoriello created a page that specifically focused on Fairfield County since his larger scale forecasts received so much local attention. On the new page, “Fairfield County Weather,” which currently has 266 followers, Pecoriello created school closing maps for each town in the area, with each town having a unique percentage of likelihood of snow days.

However, Pecoriello prefers working on a broader area. “It’s definitely much more difficult [to be scientific],” he said. “You get a lot more feedback and a lot more differing opinions.”

Pecoriello also pursues his passion within Staples. Since he could not take the meteorology class due to low enrollment, he signed up for Authentic Scientific Research (ASR), and is now preparing different computer forecasting models to test their accuracy. He will also be working with a Philadelphia meteorologist, Adam Moyer, of Planalytics, a company which forecasts weather for private companies. Moyer will be mentoring Pecoriello.

The weather wizard hopes to pursue meteorology in college and as a career, starting out with forecasting on TV and, eventually, moving towards owning his own company to make forecasts for other businesses. Like a lot of people, Pecoriello also admits that weather will be a determining factor for where he decides to live in the future. “I’m not looking for good weather, but definitely interesting weather,” he said.

No matter where the winds take him, Pecoriello knows he will never lose his love for storms.

Pecoriello said, “As nerdy as it sounds, I definitely feel a rush when I find out a big storm is coming up, almost like a high for some people. I feel pretty lucky. I’ve always had this mindset of knowing exactly what I want to do for my entire life.”