By Robin Kaminski, The Hour of Norwalk
WESTPORT, Conn. — As a child growing up in sunny Los Angeles, Jacob Meisel dreamed of inclement weather under a picture perfect blue sky.
With every forecast seemingly the same, Meisel began fixating his attention on stormy weather that he experienced on summer trips to Cape Cod.
From there, his passion for the weather only intensified.
“I was always amazed by the lightning, thunder and rain that would happen there,” Meisel said. “From that point on, I began tracking winter storms in LA until we moved to Connecticut when I was in the sixth-grade.”
With ever-changing weather all around him, Meisel thrived in the new environment. He quickly crafted a website in seventh-grade to share his weather knowledge and forecasts with the public and later another on word press.
But it wasn’t until Hurricane Sandy roared into Fairfield County that his website really caught people’s attention.
“The site was just something that I did sparingly, but this winter there was more to cover and it just took off,” Meisel said. “On a day where snow is ongoing or there is a possibility of a school closing, I’ve had 3,000 to 4,000 hits a day.”
Meisel, 17, said he primarily focuses his attention on Fairfield County and Westport in particular, which he said gives him a leg up on other forecasters who predict weather for the entire state.
“I’ve been living in Westport since I was in middle school, so I know all of the storms that have happened here and how it affects the area,” Meisel said. “I’m able to give an attention to detail and focus on one small region, which really helps.”
Meisel said in the beginning, he noticed that his work appealed to a younger audience, primarily his peers at Staples High School, who were curious if his predictions meant a snow day and sleeping in.
But as his forecasts became more technical in nature, an older audience began to hone in.
“The site went viral with Twitter,” Meisel said. “It really helped me to branch out and get a lot of hits. Plus, with every storm that happens, I can get the information out quickly.”
During the blizzard, Meisel was in Washington, D.C., for a conference, but still managed to carve out some time to keep his followers abreast of the monster storm.
“I saw the storm threat about a week out and predicted 18-26 inches for the area,” Meisel said. “Westport ended up getting 24.5 inches, so I was happy that my prediction was inside the forecasted range.”
While the weather will always hold a special place in Meisel’s heart, he said he plans to keep it as a hobby and study economics/politics for his preferred career choice at Harvard University this fall.
“I can’t promise that I’ll be able to continue nightly updates, but I’ll definitely keep the website going,” Meisel said.