DALLAS — The team members at Wyoming Valley PA Weather (WVPA) classify themselves as hobbyists.
The local team provides weather forecasts for Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wayne, Pike, Monroe, Wyoming, Carbon and Bradford counties and can offer forecasts of other areas upon request.
Wyoming Valley PA Weather has a Facebook page following of 19,000-plus.
Members don’t compare themselves to mainstream meteorologists. Kim Friese believes that the page’s personable approach sets the group apart.
“We greatly enjoy what we do and our fans,” said Kim Friese, 43, of Lake Ariel. Friese covers the Pocono region of the area. “We openly give our status as hobbyists. That seems to be overwhelmingly what we hear from our fans — they like us because we are open and honest.”
Wyoming Valley PA Weather was founded by Pete Kerdesky, 41, of the Back Mountain area, in February 2012. He wanted to further his hobby of predicting the weather, as well as interact with others who had the same passion.
Others members of the team include Manny Mihalos, 33, of Nanticoke, and Friese’s son, Tyler Dulney.
Tyler, 14, keeps busy with his duties for the page.
“Tyler covers traffic delays, power outages, current conditions, maps and other public information related items,” Friese said, adding the page is a family affair for all involved. “We chose to include our children because family and education are very important to us. We all have kids. We feel it is a great learning experience.”
Friese said the cost of maintaining the page is minimal. The team relies on research, weather models, personal knowledge of the region and past weather history among other sources to make forecasts.
A typical day for WVPA starts at 4 a.m. Kerdesky starts by researching current conditions and checking data that came in overnight. He posts a report by 5 a.m. and takes time to respond to any questions and comments.
The rest of the team is not entirely out of the loop, even during the overnight hours.
“We all check in at various hours overnight and contact each other if need be to deal with a storm unfolding differently than we anticipated,” Friese said. “After all, it is Mother Nature we are dealing with, and she has a mind of her own.”
The team pays even closer attention to conditions when there is a threat of severe weather. Friese said she is usually the overnight person, and she monitors data and posts weather warnings and any traffic notifications.
A mid-afternoon update is then posted to cover any new weather developments, followed by a team meeting in the evening to discuss any developments and fan requests. Finally, a member of the team will post the evening/overnight conditions, as well as interact with fans of the page.
“I think WVPA weather is a place where we can present the weather to people in a related way,” Kersesky said. “They can ask questions and we can respond. It is more of a community atmosphere, where we have no fear to forecast what we see.”
Friese said the group will offer new forecasts as the weather begins to warm. The team will begin to offer forecasts for local amusement parks, parades and other public events per fans’ requests.