Monday, October 22, 2018
News Roundup

Chatting up Oldsmar's Mike Boylan, of Mike's Weather Page

Mike's Weather Page a.k.a. spaghettimodels.com bills itself as the "No. 1 tropical source for millions since 2004."

The page compiles graphics and images of the latest weather models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other organizations and had more than 600,000 views on Wednesday alone.

Mike Boylan, the site's sole operator, lives in Oldsmar and said he lives for moments like this. He spends 20 hours a day updating the site, which has made him an Internet celebrity: Once at a graduation party in Safety Harbor, he was asked if he if he was the Mike from Mike's Weather Page.

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore, the rock star of meteorologists, once called Boylan's site a "one-stop shop for weather."

Boylan talked to staff writer Divya Kumar about his work and Hurricane Irma.

What made you start doing this?

I started the website in 2004. I was living here in Florida when we had Charley and all the other hurricanes, and I couldn't find any information on the Internet. I designed the page for myself as an easy way to look at all the maps I wanted to look at, and started sharing with friends and family. Then by word of mouth I guess it kind of spread. First it was just a hidden link, then I bought the domain (in 2008). I don't really know why this year all of a sudden it's really taken off. It's crazy. I'm just a hobbyist. I've learned a lot from this.

What's your web traffic like?

Now, it's about 4,000-5,000 a day when there's no storms. One year, I was excited because it peaked at 4,000 views one day. But I got 649,000 views alone (Wednesday). The NOAA emailed me today that their servers were bogging down, so I changed some of the image sizes. I've noticed for some reason only on the gulf coast of Florida the traffic has really picked up.

I started a Twitter two years ago and have (almost) 10,000 followers and on Facebook (about) a quarter million followers. More than half a million people watched a video I posted last week.

I had to turn off Facebook messages about four days ago. People are just really scared. I'd answer 10 messages, and there'd be about 30 more.

What does your setup look like? About how much time do you spend doing this?

I have an outside server. I had to have a higher powered server. I do the website work myself. This year I started an app because people asked. I maintain that and read a lot of message boards. I keep up on Facebook with a lot of meteorologists and we share information. Between Facebook, Twitter and keeping the site going, I do this about 20 hours a day (at a time like this). Every hour things are changing.

This is a hobby. I have a wife and two kids. They love it. My daughter's 11. She's fascinated with it. I do internet work and search engine work. When things are slow, I've added things over the years. In the springtime, I concentrate on tornados in the Midwest.

I just love it. It's an addiction. It's a strange addiction, the tropics. Something about the tropics just fascinate me.

Are you evacuating?

I'll stay. This is not a rain event, per se. Even (Fox 13's chief meteorologist) Paul Dellegatto said you run from the storm surge, and hide from the wind. I plan on staying. I filled up all the gas, which I wasn't initially planning to do. I'm definitely feeling a little more anxiety thinking what could sort of happen.

How worried are you? Is there anything you would want people who have been tracking the models to know?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm a 5, which is a lot for me, because I live pretty dangerously. This system is very large. It's got the potential to be larger than Andrew. It's the unknown. It's the real deal. For our area, if it goes to the west, we could have real bad storm surge issues.

I think things are going to get a little more into panic mode. We're fixing to get a little more anxious.

The biggest advice to tell people is don't make knee jerk reactions to each individual forecast. These models change and flip flop a lot. Models change to the left and to the right. Don't panic. The National Hurricane Center has a three-day cone. Models five days out are very inconsistent and you can get really worked up for no reason.

I'd wait until Friday to know if we're under the gun or not. But this is definitely one for the ages.

Comments
A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could become one of the worst in U.S. history

A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could become one of the worst in U.S. history

Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004. It is threatening to overtake BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever.
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Veteran blames fight over football on TV in shooting deaths of girlfriend and her son, 10

Veteran blames fight over football on TV in shooting deaths of girlfriend and her son, 10

TAMPA — A man accused of shooting his live-in girlfriend and her 10-year-old son told deputies they attacked him after an argument over changing the channel to watch a football game, an arrest report says.But evidence at the scene contradicts that st...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Ron DeSantis says Florida public schools are wasting money. Are they?

Ron DeSantis says Florida public schools are wasting money. Are they?

Florida’s school leaders have made plain for years their desire for more money to run their districts. They’ve asked lawmakers for higher per-student funding, and the freedom to spend the money where it’s needed. They’ve requested more construction m...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rae Carruth released from prison after serving 19 years in murder of Cherica Adams

Rae Carruth released from prison after serving 19 years in murder of Cherica Adams

CLINTON, N.C. — Former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth walked out of prison and back into the free world Monday.At 8:02 a.m. on a cold and clear October morning, Carruth was released from the minimum-custody facility at Sampson Correctional Institution,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cool! Fall has finally arrived in Tampa Bay

Cool! Fall has finally arrived in Tampa Bay

Folks waiting for fall can finally rejoice. A brisk morning will lead to a pleasant day in Tampa Bay, and highs this week will remain in the mid to upper 80s -- with an even cooler weekend forecast.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Driver in Selmon Expressway wrong-way crash jumped on patrol car before arrest, report says

Driver in Selmon Expressway wrong-way crash jumped on patrol car before arrest, report says

TAMPA — A driver accused of causing a wrong-way crash that killed another motorist on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway has been charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash involving death and resisting arrest, records show.Stephen Pale...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs defensive end Carl Nassib comes up big against former team

Bucs defensive end Carl Nassib comes up big against former team

TAMPA — Bucs defensive end Carl Nassib knew the Cleveland Browns better than most. Nassib spent his first two seasons with the Browns before he was cut and claimed by the Bucs.The Buccaneers have long admired Nassib. The team considered draftin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The Daystarter: A contentious DeSantis-Gillum debate; arrest made in Tampa double-homicide; Bucs kicker makes amends in OT

The Daystarter: A contentious DeSantis-Gillum debate; arrest made in Tampa double-homicide; Bucs kicker makes amends in OT

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Is autumn finally here? It will finally feel like it, with our morning lows in the 60s throughout Tampa Bay, according to the National Weather Service. Expect partly cloudy skies with...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs defense comes up big on fourth down early and late

Bucs defense comes up big on fourth down early and late

The Bucs' biggest defensive stand came in the fourth quarter when, leading by a touchdown, they kept the Browns out of the end zone with three stops inside the 2-yard line.That included a gutsy fourth-and-goal from the one in which linebacker Lavonte...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Weekend rewind: A shooting in Jacksonville, two wrong-way crashes, and more

Weekend rewind: A shooting in Jacksonville, two wrong-way crashes, and more

Top stories from over the weekend that you may have missed.
Updated: 5 hours ago