Cyber-weathermen Alex Marra and Bill Potter a match made in the heavens

Bill Potter (facing camera) and Alex Marra. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Bill Potter (facing camera) and Alex Marra. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Hudson Valley Weather and Mid-Hudson Valley Weather, the region’s two leading do-it-yourself purveyors of forecasts, have merged. Alex Marra, the man behind Hudson Valley Weather, announced this summer that the laid-back-dude voice of Mid-Hudson Valley Weather, Bill Potter of Pine Bush, has joined his. The new outfit includes an upgraded website (hudsonvalleyweather.com) and seven weather broadcasts per hour on ten local Clear Channel radio stations.

Hudson Valley Weather’s story is one of turning a hobby into a sort of real job. In 2008, then-26-year-old lifelong weather guru Alex Marra (then of Port Ewen, now of Kingston) started a Facebook page dedicated to posting detailed local weather forecasts. Feeling that the Weather Channel lacked accuracy in the Hudson Valley region, and with confidence of his familiarity as a hiker with the region’s quirky topography-driven microclimates, Marra used at-home software to diagnose and predict localized weather.

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Thanks to Marra’s fervent devotion to updating his Facebook page, accurate forecasts and as-it-happened reporting on storms Irene and Lee in 2011, the page’s like count rose rapidly.

As of this writing, it’s up to about 78,000 likes. The new website has clocked over 2.3 million views since launching in December, Marra said.

“Basically I did it backwards,” explained Marra. “I did the Facebook page first, and then later built the website .… You cannot find a lot of companies that started on Facebook, and the advantage was that the minute I launched that website it couldn’t fail. I immediately could link 76,000 people to it. If there was an Irene now, it would be bonkers. We would break the Internet.”

As it is, hudsonvalleyweather.com had to give the page its own dedicated server after 89,000 hits in its first 15 hours crashed its existing servers. The page saw a million hits in the first 90 days. Marra noted proudly that his page was ranked 100,000th most visited in the world. “I saw more traffic than the Poughkeepsie Journal or the Daily Freeman sites,” he said.

Like Marra, who has been predicting weather since boyhood, Bill Potter started predicting weather as a young lad as well. Potter said he found the Weather Channel when he was twelve years old, and there was no going back. He began documenting the weather five times a day in a notebook.

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