For Bill Potter, Mid Hudson Weather started as a way to get his family and friends off his back. As a lifelong fan of meteorology and a skilled amateur weatherman, the people he loved always asked for personal forecasts.
“Family and friends were always asking me, ‘What’s it going to do tomorrow? What’s the weather going to be on Saturday?’” he said. “I spent so much time answering questions, one day my wife was like, ‘You should just create a website. That way everybody can just go to one place and get an answer without contacting you 100 times.’”
That was back in 2008. Potter, a Pine Bush resident, couldn’t think of a reason not to start it.
An accountant by trade, Potter is in his thirties and shares a lot of similarities with Alex Marra, the founder of the weather site Hudson Valley Weather. Both men lack formal training, but have a huge love of meteorology, devoted followers and both serve an area usually ignored by the city-based weather forecasts.
“You’re either getting a forecast that’s based out of Albany or New York City. And they do try to include the outlying areas, but we’re really almost an afterthought,” Potter said.
Being in an underserved market has opened up the door to allow for two successful weather websites. Hudson Valley Weather is the larger frontrunner with more than 75,000 fans on Facebook. Mid Hudson Weather, by contrast, has just more than 5,500 likes.
Potter said he’s got a got a friendly rivalry going with Marra. They have some mutual fans. But he doesn’t see it as a competition.
“There’s enough room for both of us,” he said. “There’s a different flavor between him and me.”
One thing that social media has allowed is for Potter to become more personal with fans. That’s something he thinks attracts people to Mid Hudson Weather.
Because meteorology involves so many variables, different weather forecasters come up with different answers. That’s part of the fun too. “It’s not a perfect science,” he said. “There’s no right answer.”
Ironically, Potter opted out of going for a meteorology degree when he went to college at SUNY Albany. He thought it would turn his passion for forecasting into a chore. “I didn’t want to make it a job,” he explained.
Potter works full-time as an accountant for the financial aid department of a community college in the area. But Mid Hudson Weather is his second life.
“I spend pretty much all my spare time doing it,” he said. “To a degree, I would do this on my own even if I didn’t have the website.”
Because he started his weather site for a small clique, Potter didn’t pursue promotions aggressively. But eventually, around 2010, people outside his immediate circle started noticing.
“Things started to really change,” he said. Winters — especially with the odd winters we’ve had for the last few years — have been a growth period. Weirder weather means that more people look for local forecasts. “Each year, it’s almost doubled every winter.”
In 2013-2014, the harsh winter our region is still pulling itself out of — even in the opening days of spring — boosted web traffic immensely. “We’ve had a very busy winter,” he said.
For more information, search for Mid Hudson Weather on Facebook or head to https://midhudsonweather.com/.