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.
Six 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 forecast correctly, his followers grew. During Hurricane Irene, the numbers snowballed (so to speak). In one blizzard, he had a web reach of 2.3 million people.
Soon, Wild About Weather became a real business. Scott recruited college meteorologists. He opened a premium section, with customers paying for personalized forecasting, weather consulting and exclusive content. He soon had 200 subscribers.
Next, Scott created an app called “Know Snow.” It predicted the chances that school would close, for every town in Fairfield County. With 4,000 downloads, it was the go-to app for students, parents, teachers — and administrators.
In 2015 Scott changed his website’s name to the more professional sounding WeatherOptics. With 25,000 followers — and over 1 million hits a week — it attracted plenty of media attention.
Then things really exploded.
In July, meteorologist Henry Margusity — his childhood idol — told Scott he was retiring from AccuWeather. Henry wondered if Scott wanted to partner up.
At the same time, another meteorologist — Jason Bowman — wanted to merge his My Weather Concierge with WeatherOptics and Know Snow.
When the merger — and Henry’s partnership, starting next January — were announced, something even cooler (as in awesome, not temperature) happened. Top meteorologists like Tom Moore, Steve DiMartino and Larry Cosgrove jumped on board.
Now — with what Scott calls “a team of incredibly elite meteorologists with a fast growing brand, and connections to clients and other meteorologists around the world” — his company is about to “disrupt the weather market. And change it for the better.”
In October, a WeatherOptics app will launch with new features.
Users can choose their own meteorologist. He’ll provide a daily synopsis on that day’s, and upcoming, weather — along with an instant chat option.
Soccer game that afternoon, and a 40% chance of rain? Shoot your meteorologist a message, asking what exactly that means.
Other widgets include personalized ski and beach outlooks.
There are also district-by-district snow forecasts of chances that school will be closed. A data scientist from Harvard is building an algorithm for that.
Those are just the consumer sides of the company. WeatherOptics will soon launch an enterprise solution platform to provide larger businesses — commodity traders, travel agents, transportation companies, etc. — with personalized forecasts.
Scott — who is transferring this fall to Syracuse University, where he’ll major in psychology and minor in entrepreneurship — foresees partnering with school districts, so they can send real-time information directly to students, parents and teachers.
“Our goal is to change the weather industry for the better,” he says.
“We want to push out accurate, interesting content to millions of people. We want to take personalization to the next level, and provide solutions to every sector of business that relies on weather to run their company.”
Right now, Scott’s team includes 6 senior meteorologists and 4 developers (one of whom is 2016 Staples High classmate Nate Argosh). With 30,000 followers on social media, he predicts 5 million visitors this winter.
“06880” forecasts that number to grow substantially in the year ahead.