Sam Senti never expected to have more than 17,500 people following his Facebook page. But each day, these individuals check in with the Waterloo resident to see what type of weather they can expect to encounter.
Senti, 34, a Lake Mills High School grad, is the person behind Weatherman Sam LLC and what started out as a small following of family and friends has boomed since he created the Facebook page seven years ago.
The decision to create the page stemmed from his wife, Dany, who Senti would constantly share weather news with.
“Her nickname for me was Weatherman Sam. One day she told me, “Make a weather page on Facebook and tell those people about it.” So I did just that,” he said.
What started out with a handful of followers ballooned.
“Then it grew to 100 followers, 500 followers, 1,000 followers, and so on,” the Waterloo resident said. “I would have never thought I would be up over 16,000 followers and counting.”
Currently, his number of followers exceeds the Facebook pages for Madison TV station longtime meteorologists Bob Lindmeier, Gary Cannalte and Charlie Shortino.
Senti, who grew up in Lake Mills, recalls having a passion for weather from a young age. He would come home after school and tune into the Weather Channel. His favorite meteorologist is Jim Cantore, who has been with the network since 1986 – roughly Senti’s entire lifetime.
“As I have gotten older, I taught myself how to study weather. I would have gone to college for it, but I’m not the best at mathematics and there is a lot of that in that degree,” he said. “I’ve been to several severe weather spotter classes in the past as well. I create my forecasts, based on what I see from the weather models and what my gut feeling is telling me.”
Senti subscribes to several programs to obtain global weather data used to create his forecasts. He looks at different models throughout the day to prepare his daily and special alert forecasts.
Each day, the followers of Weatherman Sam LLC’s Facebook page can expect to see a morning and evening forecast based out of Waterloo, plus any southern Wisconsin storm updates as needed.
“When I see a forecast isn’t shaping up the way that I planned, then I let my followers know right away,” Senti said. “When I literally don’t know what’s going to happen, I usually tell my fans what I think will happen and that my confidence is very low. I do not ‘beat around the bush.’”
He estimates it takes one to two hours to complete a solid forecast, depending on the weather.
Senti’s posts go beyond just the weather forecast; since he drives to his job with City of Madison Streets Department there will be times he mentions the road conditions from Waterloo to Marshall. Senti will also remind followers to be mindful of the plow trucks. Visitors may also see updates about his personal life.
While forecasting has become more of a part-time job as more people turn to him for weather, Senti does not see it as a way to gain much income. He has a few sponsors to help pay for weather equipment, office supplies, giveaways and fundraisers. If there is any money leftover at the end of the year, he claims it as personal income.
Senti rarely does live severe weather forecasts; he has a moderate to severe stutter and has not yet worked up the courage to do live streams of forecasts. But Senti admits the stutter has made him who he is today.
One thing is almost certain, the forecast for Senti’s popularity as Weatherman Sam is sunny with a very good chance of continued growth.