No contest. Bet the farm — and your snow day — on the Staples sophomore.
“They’re pretty conservative, for fear of being wrong,” he says of the government agencies and private services, with their sophisticated computer models and high-tech gadgets.
“They’re big, so they can’t take risks. I say what I see. I can take being wrong.”
He seldom is.
Jacob has built a cult following by being forthright — and right. Taking data from the big boys — including Canadian and European weather models — and analyzing trends, Jacob has an uncanny record of nailing snow totals with tremendous accuracy.
And for noting when a much-hyped storm will deliver only a few wimpy flakes.
Jacob’s Connecticut Weather Blog includes breaking news, short- and medium-range forecasts, snow day predictions, and detailed explanations of how Jacob arrived at each prediction.
He’s had 20,000 hits since the December 26 storm — which, Jacob admits, he “under-forecasted.” He thought it would go out out to sea.
But, he adds, “I reversed my forecast before the National Weather Service, the Weather Channel and Accu-Weather.”
He is not afraid to pull punches. A recent blog post declared:
Most weather agencies have completely written this (upcoming) storm off. I challenge (them), and say that if we see more than 2 inches of snow, then I was right to warn the public about a storm earlier than they did. I completely see the potential with this system, especially since the CMC Canadian weather model bombs out the storm and gives us around a foot Tuesday.
Jacob started his “Weather Wiz” website as a Coleytown 8th grader, 2 years after moving to Westport. He came from California — which, he laments, “doesn’t have a lot of weather.”
His passion was ignited watching intense lightning storms on Cape Cod. When he realized the power of snowstorms here to affect daily life, he was hooked.
He attended a 5-day weather camp at Penn Sate — “one of the main weather universities in the country,” he notes — but is largely self-taught. He studies other meteorologists, while taking nothing at face value. Each model has “biases,” Jacob says, and he figures those into his own predictions.
“I love the feeling of nailing a forecast dead-on,” he says. And he loves bad weather.
“Sunny and clear is boring,” says Jacob. “A severe storm is exciting.” When it hits he talks to fellow meteorologists, follows radar, and updates his blog constantly.
He’s a mini-celebrity at Staples. “Most kids just want to know if we’ll have school or not, but I think some of them are learning about models and interactions,” he says. Teachers are very interested too, he says.
It’s too early for Jacob to know if he’ll make meteorology a career. He enjoys public speaking, and is active in Staples’ Debate and Junior State of America clubs.
He’s also very interested in politics. Though, if you think about it, that’s just another field with blustery winds that frequently shift.
For now though, weather is Jacob’s primary interest. As the “06880” interview ends, he pulls out his cellphone.
“The European model just added an update,” he says. “Let me check it out.”