His Eye’s on the Skies: Mike’s Weather Page has become a go-to resource for millions of fans.
By MELISSA WOLFE, ’13, Life Member
It’s Sept. 28, 2022, and Mike Boylan, ’96, has purposely placed himself in one of the most dangerous places in the world — directly in the path of Hurricane Ian.
Armed with a satellite phone, weather radar, a cooler stocked with Mountain Dew and his favorite Redneck Storm Chaser T-shirt, Boylan is riding it out in Placida, Florida, 12 miles from where the monstrous storm is making landfall.
Wind lashes his white pickup truck as Boylan and his friend and business advisor, Phil Gergen, sit inside, broadcasting their experience to fans around the world.
His ears pop as the first band of the northern eye wall rolls in. Wind howls, bowling over trees and raining debris down on the vehicle.
“I’ve never seen nothing like this,” Boylan confesses to CNN national TV news anchor Erin Burnett from his refuge under a storm-ravaged gas station. “It’s been hours of intense wind and rain. Everywhere we go we see flooding, storm surge, power lines and trees down. It’s unbelievable.”
Smashing into the coast as a Category 4 hurricane (on a 1-5 scale) with winds of 150 mph, Ian was one of the deadliest storms to hit the United States this century. In Florida alone, it killed 150 people and left $109 billion in property damage in its wake.
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A self-taught meteorologist, or “social-media-ologist” as he jokes, Boylan is a storm-chasing sensation with nearly 2 million followers on social media.
Touted by The Weather Channel’s luminary Jim Cantore as a “one-stop shop for weather,” Mike’s Weather Page (spaghettimodels.com) aggregates all the major models, forecasts and real-time satellite images into an easy-to-read website that traces its roots all the way back to USF.
Born in Bradenton, Boylan moved to Pinellas County in 1985. He earned a marketing degree from the Muma College of Business in 1996.
“USF taught me about ethics, how to problem solve, juggle projects and stay on top of everything,” he says. “I came in not really understanding much about marketing or business and left feeling ready to take on the world.”
After graduating, Boylan bought the hobby shop he had worked at throughout college and put his degree to work building the business.
Seeking a career change, he returned to USF in 2004 to complete a website design program. A lifelong weather enthusiast, he created his first website — Mike’s Weather Page — as a fun way to test and hone his new skills. Through word-of-mouth, the page steadily gained popularity. In 2009, Boylan expanded to Facebook, where he found the perfect niche for his layman’s approach to reporting weather.
While his website is laser-focused on the latest spaghetti models, his social media pages blend weather reporting with intimate insights into his personal life. Boylan’s authenticity shines through as he converses with his online “weather family,” candidly sharing his love for NASCAR, family life with his wife and two daughters, and the challenges of raising a child with Down syndrome.
Every morning at 9:19 a.m., Boylan hosts a live weather show, the “Daily Brew,” on YouTube from his living room. His two French Bulldogs, and their epic snores, make frequent guest appearances. The youngest dog, named Hunter by fans, has gained his own following, starring on Clearwater’s Big Storm Brewery’s tropical IPA label Hurricane Hunter.
“Mike isn’t like other weather folks,” says Dale Kindberg, a longtime follower and fellow storm chaser. “He’s a laid-back, down-home guy who just tells it like it is. He really cares about his listeners and always takes the time to chat and answer questions.”
Boylan is not just an amateur with great communications skills. Mike’s Weather Page has been endorsed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its Hurricane Hunters, National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and his own hometown’s Pinellas County Emergency Management Department.
In 2021, Boylan became the first civilian to win the Tropical Meteorology Award at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference, an honor bestowed by industry professionals. This February, he partnered with the Florida Division of Emergency Management to debut Mike’s Weather Page Hurricane Awareness Machine racecar in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. And in June, Boylan was honored with the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award for his impact on Tampa Bay.
“Mike is the epitome of the American dream,” says Denis Phillips, chief meteorologist for Tampa’s ABC Action News, where he’s worked since 1994. “He had no formal education in meteorology but had such an extreme passion for weather that he took his hobby and just worked and worked and worked and turned it into just a huge success.”
“I talk to my kids about Mike to show them it isn’t always about education. It’s about your passion, your drive and your love for something.”
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Storm chasing is not just about the adrenaline rush for Boylan. It’s about the opportunity to help those who’ve lost everything by telling their stories and raising awareness of the destructive power of hurricanes, especially in the South.
Two weeks after Hurricane Ian, Boylan and Gergen returned to Southwest Florida to survey the damage, meet with survivors and hand out generators.
“This was worse than I could ever have imagined,” Boylan said to his followers as he drove by rows of houses reduced to rubble on Pine Island. “The devastation is beyond words.”
While quick to clarify that he is not a professional meteorologist — advising listeners to follow government advisories regarding evacuations — Boylan does use his firsthand experiences to warn listeners why they might want to “get out of Dodge.” For Ian, he voiced his concerns about widespread flooding and storm surge well ahead of its landfall.
“Some people from Fort Myers listened to me in the lead-up to Ian and got out,” he says. “Having people run up and hug you and say, ‘You saved my dad. If it wasn’t for you, he wouldn’t have evacuated,’ makes it all worth it.”
What’s next on the horizon? He’s set his eyes on the skies, ready to elevate his storm chasing by 10,000 feet. He’s eagerly awaiting an invitation to board a storm-chasing plane and take his pursuit to a whole new level.
He’s also working toward a more grounded venture with a five-year plan to open a Daily Brew coffee shop. Decorated with his weather memorabilia, the java joint will serve as Boylan’s personal “one-stop shop,” where his weather family can interact beyond a screen, his daughter can work, and Boylan can livestream his shows.
As he looks to the future, it’s clear that for Mike Boylan, the forecast is always — eventually — rainbows.