Ben Noll’s forecasts have Hudson Valley schoolchildren hanging on every word – and emoji – as he sends his predictions from halfway around the world.
The sweetest sound to schoolkids’ ears during the winter is “Snowday!” And the name on everyone’s mind this time of year is meteorologist Ben Noll.
A 2009 Valley Central High School graduate who is now a meteorologist for the government of New Zealand, Noll forecasts Hudson Valley schools’ snow closings with unusual accuracy. More than 23,700 people eagerly anticipate his predictions via “@BenNollWeather” on Twitter.
Noll attributes his predictions’ success to his education, experience, access to the world’s best forecast models, and of course, strong local knowledge (and input from fans around the HV).
“The defining factor is geography,” Noll explains. “In the Hudson Valley, there are mountains on either side — the Taconics to the east, the Catskills to the west — so cold air often gets stuck, making the Valley colder than surrounding areas. In the summertime there’s a westerly wind blowing, and the Hudson Valley can be the hottest place in New York State.”
It goes without saying that Noll’s been a weather “geek” nearly all of his life: It was a January 1996 blizzard in his hometown of Montgomery that sparked what would be a lifelong interest in the weather. By the time he was in middle school, Noll was making predictions for classmates and teachers. “From the age of 5, I knew what I wanted to do was predict the weather,” he says.
“In the Hudson Valley, there are mountains on either side…so cold air often gets stuck, making the Valley colder than surrounding areas. In the summertime there’s a westerly wind blowing, and the Hudson Valley can be the hottest place in New York State.”
A B.S. in Meteorology from SUNY Oswego (Al Roker’s alma mater) was followed by an internship with Accuweather. Three years after graduation, Noll learned of the job in New Zealand through a former professor, and eagerly accepted it. But despite the distance and 18-hour time difference, he still accurately forecasts what’s going on in the Hudson Valley. His predictions are favored by many school administrators who are on an email list that Noll advises once a week.
Noll’s followers look forward to his creative predictions: Thanks to Twitter’s early limits on tweet length, Noll developed clever shortcuts for the school districts. Fishkill became a “fish” emoji followed by the word “kill,” Pine Bush began with a tree emoji, and so on (check out his shortcut for Newburgh; it’s funny!).
— Ben Noll (@BenNollWeather) March 25, 2020
Noll disputes the notion that he’s always right: “That will never be true in weather forecasting. Weather and errors are natural partners.”
Noll loves New Zealand, but misses things like Adams Fairacre Farms in Newburgh, and of course New York pizza. And he hasn’t forgotten his roots: Last month, his mother (who works in the Valley Central school district) presented a check to the local Relay for Life with proceeds from the sale of Ben Noll logo T-shirts and other merchandise. Noll makes special predictions for local schools’ graduation days; in appreciation, Valley Central celebrated “Ben Noll Day” in October.
“The Hudson Valley will always be home,” Noll says.