Jack Sillin, 17, has offered his popular weather blog for free, but now hopes his followers will come up with $35 a month – total – so he can buy pizza or put gas in the car for a ski trip while he’s at Cornell University.

In a few weeks, 17-year-old amateur meteorologist Jack Sillin will leave a lot of things behind – his hometown of Yarmouth, his high school, the coastal byways of his native Maine. But if all goes to plan, he’ll be able to keep his lifelong passion for predicting the weather.

Though the recent high school graduate is headed nearly 500 miles west to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he hopes to continue providing some of Maine and New Hampshire’s most accurate weather forecasts, which have garnered attention from national outlets, like the Weather Channel, and local buffs alike. But, with a college workload to worry about, he’s no longer willing to do it completely for free.

“Textbooks are expensive, man,” he said.

Still, the subsidy he’s hoping for is far from astronomical. Sillin is asking his followers to put together $35 a month among them – yes, that’s total – and he’ll keep getting up at the crack of dawn.

“If a few folks each pitch in a few bucks, and continuing to post means having enough spare change to buy my friends and I pizza on a Friday night, or put gas in the car to get to the ski mountain on a Saturday? That’s a trade-off I’d be happy to make,” he wrote on his blog Thursday morning. In less than a day, he’d met his goal.

The teen forecaster’s popularity has skyrocketed within the past three years. In 2015, the then-13-year-old had accumulated nearly 1,000 blog subscribers and over 870 Twitter followers. Now, Sillin’s numbers have quadrupled, boasting more than 4,000 subscribers and nearly 3,600 Twitter fans.

Sillin credits his following, in part, to an appearance on the Weather Channel, as well as a large local following on Twitter. Though he just turned 17, Sillin remembers a time when Twitter acquaintances would address him as “sir,” assuming the forecasting expertise was coming from someone much older than he was. Once he became better known, however, people began to call him “kid.”

In 2015, when Jack Sillin was 13, he said that writing his daily weather blog was “a pretty solid routine.”

Justine Beaudoin, who owns a landscaping company out of Windham, met Sillin on Twitter and has stayed friends with him throughout the years. “I rely on him a lot,” she said. “He’s helped prepare me for family weddings at my house, with my landscaping business – and with no hype. He tells it like it is.”

Sillin now works part-time at Weather.us, a Switzerland-based startup focused on weather data solutions for businesses and individuals. There, he forecasts all over the nation, from California wildfires to Florida hurricanes.

Before the summer, Sillin had no plans to keep up with his forecasting, which focuses on western Maine and New Hampshire. But after receiving an influx of messages from local supporters, he began to rethink his decision.

“I got message after message of people saying, ‘Hey, if you don’t continue it after next year, that’s going to be something that we’re really sad to see go.’ So this is clearly bringing value to people, and people enjoy it and are getting a lot of use out of it, so if I’m bringing that value to them, it would be worth exploring a possible way to see if I can convert some of that value into pocket change for college.”

Chris Carleton, who owns and operates Allspeed, a ski and bike shop on Marginal Way, has been following Sillin’s weather forecasts for about four years. Carleton said he would definitely be willing to “throw a few dollars Jack’s way” if it meant that he would continue forecasting while in college.

Carleton has come to rely on Sillin’s forecasting abilities, calling him one of the more accurate and open forecasters he has encountered. Carleton’s business focuses on backcountry skiing, and he says Sillin is very knowledgeable about ski conditions.

Carleton said he and Sillin communicated via Twitter, and that Sillin would almost always respond to queries Carleton posted.

“The cool thing about Jack was he was very precise, ” Carleton said. “But he would own up to it if he got things wrong.”

Carleton predicts that Sillin will continue to provide weather forecasts to his loyal followers despite the demands placed on him by an Ivy League school.

“Jack is so passionate and so much of a weather geek. He’s not going to stop,” Carleton said.

As an atmospheric science major at Cornell, Sillin hopes to continue a career in meteorology, though not as a weatherman. Instead, he wants to be on the forefront of unlocking the atmosphere’s mysteries, working to advance the sciences behind the scenes. “For now, I’m keeping my doors open,” he said.

His favorite part?

“It’s always changing. Every day is a new challenge. Even with the most stagnant weather patterns, like we’ve had in the past couple of weeks, there’s always something new to challenge me as a forecaster, as a person and as a scientist,” he said. “There’s no shortage of opportunities for Mother Nature to put me in my place.”

But, as far his morning routine, his fans are hoping it stays the same: waking up at 5 a.m., plopping into his chair and surveying his four weather monitors for the digital landscape to change.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

Surya Milner can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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