In kindergarten, Scott Pecoriello was curious about rain. His parents showed him a radar map. Hooked, he checked it every day.
The next year he drew a map of the Northeast, and colored in storms. Soon, he was trying to figure out how tornadoes form. (He was completely wrong.)
From there Scott advanced to the Weather Channel. Then came online forums like AWE (the Association of Weather Enthusiasts), filled with people who share his passion. He taught himself all about meteorology.
Three years ago — as a Staples High School freshman — Scott got tired of sharing his maps and forecasts with a few family members. He started a blog called Wild About Weather. It drew about 12 followers (mostly family members).
When he started a Facebook page, his audience exploded. With each storm he forecasted correctly, his followers grew. With Hurricane Irene, the numbers snowballed (so to speak). During one blizzard last winter, he had a web reach of 2.3 million people.
Sure, you can get your weather forecast anywhere. Folks flock to Scott because he makes it interesting. He breaks down every element, so people can learn. He’s enthusiastic, and his blog and Facebook page are personal.
Scott proves himself during big weather events. You or I might fear a hurricane or snowstorm. Scott revels in them. He’s gone 2 days without sleep. He studies every element, explains each one, then forecasts what’s next.
Scott’s biggest success was Hurricane Sandy. But, he notes, “everyone got that right.” He’s prouder of a storm last winter, when he predicted conditions in every Northeastern city with 94% accuracy.
His biggest failure? Also last winter: a dud snowstorm. On his “Know Snow” app, he apologized. And — as he does whenever he gets something wrong — he explained why.
On the app, Scott predicts school closings for each area town. Last year, he was 91% accurate. It would have been higher, he says, but Westport and Fairfield closings are extraordinarily difficult to figure.
Far more often than not though, Scott gets the closings — and his entire forecast — right. That’s why professional meteorologists follow him on Twitter. They respect him, and he in turn learns from them.
Another fan is Staples principal John Dodig. Teachers follow him too. But Scott — who in his spare time mentors an autistic boy through the Circle of Friends, and counsels elementary school students about food allergies through a group he helped start — downplays his passion with his friends. “I don’t want to be known as the ‘school weatherman,'” he says.
Okay. But how about a sneak preview of winter for “06880”?
“It will be similar to last year,” Scott says. “A lot of snow in Siberia early correlates to the polar vortex we saw before. If the southern jet stream is active, we could get some big snowstorms.”
Speaking of active, Scott is very. He’s just hired a few assistants, to help launch his new premium service on Wild About Weather.
Here’s my forecast: Scott Pecoriello’s future is very hot.
(Scott is not the only young Westport weather whiz. Jacob Meisel — a 2012 Staples graduate, now at Harvard — has just expanded his own website. He’s branched out to New York and other places from southwestern Connecticut, and is offering subscription services. Click SWCT/NY Weather to learn more.)