Hudson Valley students turn to New Zealand meteorologist Ben Noll for good news during bad weather

Hudson Valley students turn to New Zealand meteorologist Ben Noll for good news during bad weather

Peter Phelan, Staff Writer

In his downtime, you can find him panning for gold, taking aerial videos with his drone, or exploring the New Zealand countryside. It’s not surprising then that some people think meteorologist Ben Noll has been on a perpetual vacation since he moved to Auckland three years ago. Yet, he will be the first to tell you that this is far from the truth. 

By day, Mr. Noll works as a meteorologist, forecasting the weather and climate of New Zealand to provide critical information to emergency responders. And by night, he forecasts that of the Hudson Valley, from the opposite side of the world.

“Many meteorologists are blessed (cursed?) with the ‘weather bug’ from a young age,” said Mr. Noll, who works at The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research.“It is a beautiful thing if you can harness it, because who doesn’t want their hobby and main interest to become their career?”

Ben Noll’s Twitter account allows the meterologist to give up-to-the-minute updates to his followers.

Known as “The Weatherman” in his middle school and high school days, Mr. Noll was no exception.

Mr. Noll’s passion for meteorology was influenced by his father, who was a routine viewer of The Weather Channel. Mr. Noll also found meteorologists like Jim Cantore and Elliot Abrams (who Mr. Noll later worked with) whose love for their work inspired him.

The rapid rise of Twitter and Facebook gave Mr. Noll a natural outlet for his predictions. Since making his Twitter account (@BenNollWeather) in December 2013, his followers have grown to over 42,000.

Teachers and students alike appreciate Mr. Noll’s predictions.

“It’s nice seeing the percentages and knowing what to expect,” said global teacher Ms. Bleakley.

“I heard about him from other students, people talk about him a lot,” said Dan Winters, high school student. In 2018, after the success of his Twitter account, Mr. Noll decided to make a website. With a logo and apparel designed by his sister, Mr. Noll continues to expand his brand. For $21.99, you can buy a Ben Noll Weather t-Shirts on his website. Backpacks, socks, hoodies and other merchandise is available, too.

Mr. Noll has used the immediacy of social media to his advantage.

“I like that his twitter is really fast, it gives a lot of quick updates,” said sophomore Luke Milem.

According to Mr. Noll, time is the largest factor keeping his website afloat. Mr. Noll spends time monitoring Twitter and Facebook for the latest information, creating and updating the forecast, reporting on school decisions for closings, and much more, all while having a full-time job in New Zealand.

“His predictions are very accurate,” said English teacher Ms. McAssey.

The responses I get on Twitter and Facebook are pretty remarkable and make it all worthwhile. I know the effort I put into my predictions is appreciated by the community.”

— Ben Noll

“I do it because it’s enjoyable and the community can’t seem to get enough of it,” said Mr. Noll, “The off-season (spring, summer, and most of fall) is the time to recharge the batteries, think about what I can do better next year, and spending time with my fiancée.”

With Mr. Noll’s snow day predictions being a driving factor of activity on his Twitter account and website, his account and website change during the off-season.

“During the summer, I turn into ‘Ben the climate scientist’, tweeting about more technical topics that don’t necessarily apply to the Hudson Valley…” 

One of these technical topics is global warming, an issue that affects far more than just the Hudson Valley. “The idea that our Earth is warming is indisputable. And its 7.442 billion inhabitants are very likely the main cause for that change.”

Mr. Noll said that global warming is not an issue to take lightly, and that it will directly impact future generations.

“For the Hudson Valley, I’ve run the numbers,” said Mr. Noll, “both minimum and maximum temperatures have increased with time.” 

While the effects of this may be difficult to notice, extreme heat and humidity during the summer will increase noticeably over time. “This could increase the risk for flooding or heavy, disruptive snowfalls,” said Mr. Noll.

Issues such as global warming are both a large concern and a large motivator for meteorologists like Mr. Noll: “This is why weather/climate can be such a fulfilling career. We are at the forefront of a global issue and new research is emerging all the time- though much more is needed.”

Mr. Noll finds fulfillment in his career via his favorite part of social media: his interactions with the community.

“The responses I get on Twitter and Facebook are pretty remarkable and make it all worthwhile,” said Noll, “because I know the effort I put into my predictions is appreciated by the community.”