Weather junkies turn to Florida hurricane blogger for info

Oct 26, 2021, 8:35 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2021, 9:17 am
MIke Boylan is shown at his home office Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Oldsmar, Fla. As Hurricane Ida ba...

MIke Boylan is shown at his home office Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Oldsmar, Fla. As Hurricane Ida barreled toward Louisiana last August, Boylan hit the road with live reports for his social media followers as he chased the storm. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — As a recent hurricane lashed the Louisiana coast, nervous excitement churned inside Florida-based, self-proclaimed weather geek turned storm chaser Mike Boylan.

The winds howled as he started up his white pickup truck and ventured away from the relative safety of a car wash northwest of New Orleans where he’d ridden out the early hours of Hurricane Ida in late August.

“I drove down this one road and, holy cow, the trees started falling,” Boylan, 48, recounted.

The slowly moving storm suddenly took a turn north, forcing him to make a U-turn and speed away, trees snapping and power lines falling around him.

“It was a little scary, I’ll admit,” Boylan said. “It was more than I bargained for. There were some moments in my truck that I was saying, ‘Just get me somewhere.’ I wanted to get the heck off the road.”

He soon found refuge at a LaQuinta Inn in nearby Boutte, Louisiana, quickly going live on Facebook to share Ida’s fury with his 1.1 million followers on Mike’s Weather Page.

“You could hear all the damage going on around us,” he said. “You could see sheet metal flying.”

Would he do it again?

“Absolutely. There’s a little storm junkie in me, there’s no doubt,” Boylan said recently from his suburban Tampa home. “I guess it’s a weird obsession.”

He’s become an online darling among those who turn to him for their hurricane season fix, propelling him into the realm of social media influencers. But it’s his humble, down-to-earth nature that draws many to the beer-drinking, baseball- and NASCAR-loving guy who has always been fascinated by hurricanes.

“I grew up obsessed with The Weather Channel,” Boylan said, “I would always wake up in the morning and see if the cone shifted. You always get that excitement, like ‘Oh, my God’ the cone is coming closer.”

He started Mike’s Weather Page in 2004 as a one-stop shop for weather information during a tumultuous six-week span that saw four hurricanes crisscross Florida.

At first he only shared it with family and friends. Then it started getting clicks, spreading by word of mouth, and later by Facebook likes.

“When I started, I only focused on Florida. And then I got some people getting upset because I wasn’t talking about Texas storms or North Carolina storms,”

Today, he’s expanded to Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, while keeping up the original website, spaghettimodels.com. His videos have been picked up by television stations and websites, including The Weather Channel.

The marketing and business major quit what he calls his “summer job” to focus on Mike’s Weather Page. In the winter, he does some event planning.

“For me to be successful in the weather, I almost have to live and breathe it 24 hours a day to stay on top of things,” he said. “That’s what people like.”

With that comes recognition. Fans now spot him almost everywhere he goes. They also recognize his wife, Julie, and daughters, Emily, 15, and Sarah, 12. The family’s two French bulldogs are also popular — possibly because Mike let fans name the second dog, Hunter (for hurricane hunters).

“It’s humbling,” Boylan said. “That kind of stuff just freaks me out, especially when I’m 800 miles from home and run into people who recognize me.”

While chasing Hurricane Zeta in Biloxi, Mississippi, last year, a woman knocked on his truck window, saying she had seen his livestream and realized he was parked just down the road from her house.

When the Boylans took a Labor Day weekend trip to the Florida Panhandle, more than 60 people showed up for an impromptu meet-and-greet at a beach market on Cape San Blas.

Market owners Tyler and Claire Matney became “massive followers” of Mike’s Weather Page soon after moving from Arizona to Florida in 2017.

“I had never been anywhere that had anything like a hurricane. That was totally, totally foreign to us,” Tyler Matney.

Then, in October 2018, Hurricane Michael slammed into Mexico Beach. Boylan was warning of the dangers of Michael well before it became a Category 5 storm. The Matneys and many others took note.

“I don’t think Mike realized exactly how popular he is in this town,” Matney said. “Everybody here was just tuned in to Mike every step of that process to get through that hurricane. You can’t go on Facebook here locally when there’s a storm and not see people sharing his stuff.”

Dr. Rick Knabb, a former director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami who is now a chief meteorologist at The Weather Channel, says weather bloggers can help people stay safe as long as they relay official National Weather Service information, along with instructions from local and state emergency managers.

“Weather blogs and social media accounts with large followings have an opportunity to amplify a consistent safety message during particularly dangerous weather events,” Knabb said.

Boylan, who became the first civilian to win the Tropical Meteorology Award at this year’s Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference, tells people upfront that he’s not a meteorologist and says he leaves it to professionals to offer advice on putting up shutters or evacuating.

Jean Jenkins, a fourth-generation Floridian who started following Boylan during Hurricane Irma in 2017, said she appreciates that he doesn’t “hype” storms.

“He is genuine, funny and sincere, and transparent in his degree of knowledge,” she said, “His calming personality is extremely comforting during high stress weather systems.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - In this April 20, 2021, file photo Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks in Brooklyn Center, Minn...
Associated Press

Boebert in call refuses to apologize for anti-Muslim remarks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Days after firebrand conservative Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado was harshly criticized for making anti-Muslim comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat whom she likened to a bomb-carrying terrorist, the two spoke by phone Monday. By both lawmakers’ accounts, it did not go well. The conversation, which Boebert sought after issuing […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

UK spies seek help from tech firms against cyber threats

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s spies must give up some of their deep-rooted secrecy and seek help from tech firms to combat fast-moving cyber threats, the head of the U.K’s foreign intelligence agency says. MI6 chief Richard Moore says the agency has to “become more open to stay secret” in a world of destabilizing technological changes. […]
17 hours ago
Actor Jussie Smollett arrives Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for jury s...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What charges does Jussie Smollett face at trial?

CHICAGO (AP) — The twists, turns and oddities of the legal saga surrounding Jussie Smollett’s claim in 2019 that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago have culminated in an actual trial, which enters its first full day of testimony Tuesday. Initial charges brought in February 2019 that accused the […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Gene Sperling, who leads the oversight for distributing funds from President Joe Biden's $1....
Associated Press

States, cities running out of rental assistance monies

Several large states and cities have exhausted their federal rental assistance, the Treasury Department said Monday, in a sign that spending on a massive program aimed at averting evictions has picked up speed. The federal government is forecasting that upwards of $30 billion or about two-thirds of money allocated for rental assistance will be disbursed […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Pizza delivery man dies in eastern Indiana porch collapse

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A pizza delivery driver died after a porch collapsed while he was making a delivery in eastern Indiana, police said. Connersville Police Department officers Saturday night found that William Fields, 45, of Connersville, had fallen through what appeared to be a collapsed porch. Fields had been pinned by heavy debris and […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf speaks at a news conference in Oakland, Calif., on July 26, 2021....
Associated Press

Oakland mayor seeks to reverse police cuts amid crime spike

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a reversal of plans to divert funding from police to social services, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Monday that she’ll push to reverse planned cuts to the city’s police department and seek to quickly hire more officers amid a spike in violence and homicides that has left some residents afraid […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Weather junkies turn to Florida hurricane blogger for info