BAR HARBOR — For as long as Mike Dorfman can remember, weather has never ceased to astonish him. So the weather software engineer started a Facebook page called Weather Guy on MDI to discuss island weather with the local community.
Dorfman studied physics at Bates College where he completed his senior thesis on cloud droplet formation. “That’s when I kind of moved in the weather direction,” he said.
Immediately after graduating, Dorfman worked as an intern at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. He worked at the observatory for five years before pursuing a career as a software engineer for the weather-specific team at Verisk Analytics, an American data analytics and risk assessment firm based in Jersey City, N.J. At Verisk Analytics, Dorfman’s team provides weather data to insurance companies.
With his Weather Guy on MDI Facebook page, Dorfman decided to mix business with pleasure.
“With the page, I really wanted to get people in the community excited about coastal weather, specifically the weather on Mount Desert Island,” he said. It’s his aim to engage islanders by having one place where he would share all weather information from MDI aggregated together.
Over the summer, Dorfman has been engaging heavily with his Facebook followers to inform them about the latest heat and precipitation changes. “It was an incredible summer. I have yet to look at the stats versus the climatological norms, but the season’s weather was several times the normal for total precipitation,” he said, adding that he was very impressed with the record-breaking rain event that happened in early June.
On June 9, about 5 1/2 inches of rain fell within a two-hour span in certain parts of Acadia National Park. “During the entire event, I was looking at the radar and also watching the weather for all the stations across MDI realizing that it was going to be a historical event,” Dorfman said. The storm caused carriage roads, specifically on the north side of Sargent Mountain, to be completely washed out.
Not even two months later, Hurricane Henri hit the U.S. “There was a lot of hype about Henri that was coming up the coast, but at just the last minute it went a little further inland than it was initially forecasted. When hurricanes hit land, they dissipate very quickly and because we were just a bit further inland it took a longer track to get back out to the Gulf of Maine,” said Dorfman.
According to Dorfman, the hurricane weakened a lot and it also went farther south, which was a bit of a miss for MDI. “Initially it was forecasted to kind of be a little further out at sea and maintain its strength. If it did, we would have seen a significant wave event because it would have essentially been a hurricane in the Gulf of Maine,” he said.
“Those offshore hurricanes explode and decrease in pressure rapidly but that didn’t happen. [Henri] took a course that was further inland. It weakened significantly that by the time it got to us it was just a tropical depression,” he continued.
Dorfman says that MDI is almost perfectly between two weather radar sites, which doesn’t give a very accurate picture of ground-level weather on the island.
Someday Dorfman would like to create an accessible website where he can combine MDI weather data, but for now he enjoys continuing to inform islanders about the weather via Facebook.
For more information, visit the Weather Guy on MDI Facebook page.