As metro Detroit braced for a massive snowstorm and polar vortex in late January 2019, there was one person that local parents wanted to hear from most. Hint: It wasn’t the local TV station meteorologists.
Known only as “SE Michigan SnowFreaks” – recently renamed from “SE Michigan Snowcast” – this local dad’s Facebook page has become a little-kept secret.
That’s especially true among southeast Michigan parents, teachers and commuters who are anxious for insight on impending snowstorms.
And, as this local “SnowFreak” tells Metro Parent, that’s what keeps him motivated.
“I love the fact that I get personal messages from superintendents, principals and teachers thanking me often,” he said in an email interview (he prefers to keep his real identity under wraps). “It makes me feel what I am doing is truly making a difference – while at the same time making it fun for all.”
Here’s a look at what the page has to offer – and our exclusive Q&A with the mystery man behind SE Michigan SnowFreaks.
About SE Michigan SnowFreaks
The SnowFreaks page features frequent updates with ultra-detailed maps and commentary about how much snow can be expected and when.
With more than 140,000 followers as of the time this post was published, fans say they cling to his page for the best snow forecasts and, importantly, snow day predictions and a sense of how much snow we’ll need to shovel.
In the hundreds of comments on most of his posts, parents celebrate (or commiserate) snow day announcements, share road conditions and bestow praise on their trusted “snow guy.”
“ALWAYS 100% more accurate than EVERY professional weather forecast. I rely and depend on this all winter long! Thank you!!” one review on the page reads.
The page notes only that SnowFreaks is a “community in Romeo, Michigan.” He opts to keep his name and other personal information private, though – taking on a “Wilson” from Home Improvement persona, a fan once commented.
But his Facebook profile tells us this: “I am a certified Snow Freak! I am not a meteorologist. I have followed and studied winter storms for 30 years.
“I cover all of SE Michigan! 85% accuracy! SNOW!”
Seven questions with the SnowFreak
We decided to dig a little deeper into the “snow” and ask this local dad a few questions. Here’s what he had to say!
1. How did you get into ‘snowcasting?’
“It’s been a long time in the works. I remember waking up as a young kid with my dad always having the Weather Channel on in the mornings. It was always exciting to me to know if we could possibly have a snow day.
“Also, watching (local TV meteorologist) Chuck Gaidica every single evening – truly a legend he is. The way he made it fun, and how much passion he had, is what I truly try to mirror. That is when it really sparked. I thought, ‘How cool would it be to see what they see behind the scenes?’
“I was 10 years old making snow maps on blank pieces of paper. I had no clue what I was doing, though. So, five years ago, after 20 years of asking many well-known meteorologists where to find all the models and data, I found myself studying and predicting snow more accurately than most.
“I decided to start my own page as a small hobby – and, well, that was short-lived. When I predicted 12 to 18 inches of snow on Super Bowl Sunday a few years back and many others were calling for around 6 inches, my page literally blew up. To my surprise, there are a lot of SnowFreaks in SE Michigan!”
2. What drives your passion for snow?
“Honestly my passion for snow came from getting snow days as a kid – no joke. That is what got me hooked on snow. Also riding the four-wheeler around with the sled and just having fun, making snow forts and having snowball fights with all my childhood friends – all still clear in my memory.
“Now I have a family of my own, and am looking forward to sharing all those great memories with them.”
3. What’s it like having such a huge following on SE Michigan SnowFreaks?
“Very humbling! Never in a million years did I think a page for just a small portion of our state would be so big and getting bigger every day. It’s now more than snow; it’s basically an all-winter page. Many ask questions and others often reply with helpful answers.
“This is what makes this page so great: Outside of being very accurate, this is a page where parents, students, teachers and the average Joe can go to and get accurate forecasts – along with some good laughs.”
4. This work must be very time-consuming, and it seems like you have a ‘regular’ job, too. How do you make it work?
“To be completely honest, I have no idea. When we are a couple days out from a storm and the days leading up to and until the end of the storm … I literally get about three hours of sleep a night, and am putting in 20-plus hours a day between this page, my job and a beautiful family.
“I love it, though – but it does make me delirious at times! I feel like this is now a responsibly – I feel many truly depend on me. That’s what makes it fun though. I am addicted to snow. I am a SnowFreak.”
5. People say your reports are so much more accurate than others. What does SE Michigan SnowFreaks do differently?
“I believe it comes down to how much passion I have for winter weather. I spend sleepless nights tracking everything I can track and seeing how models have done with similar storms with similar tracks in the past. In time, you get a good feel for things and become very confident, as I am now.
“I feel I was given this talent to share with people and to deliver it the way I do. I truly believe that is what separates myself from the others.”
6. As a parent, how do you feel when you get that ‘snow day’ announcement phone call?
“This is easy – I love it! When my kids wake up and I get to tell them they have no school, their smiles say it all, and that’s what it’s all about.’
7. Anything else you’d want your fans to know about you?
“I am just a normal guy who truly loves to make people have fun and be happy and never to take life too seriously. Whether you are a SnowFreak or get freaked out about snow, this page is for you!”