Pine Walk’s Meteorologist
Story and Photo
By David Crohn

It’s a Saturday afternoon, and here at 40 degrees 38 minutes 18 seconds north and 73 degrees 11 minutes 12 seconds, barometric pressure is high.

Translation: The weather is nice on Pine Walk.

We know this because Phillip Taylor’s gizmos said so. A Fair Harbor resident since 1990, last summer Taylor started bringing Fair Harbor the most local weather report you can get in these parts. With just a few hundred bucks and a tinker’s passion for how things work, he installed a complete weather-tracking system on his house near the beach.

Taylor said that although he loves math and science and learning about how things work, he’s not necessarily a weather junkie—just a guy who loves to go sailing.

“I originally did it just so I could see how the wind was blowing,” he said.

But one thing led to another. In addition to the anemometer and vane he has up for measuring wind speed and direction, he now has a high-end thermometer, a barometer (it measures atmospheric pressure) and a rain gauge installed on his roof and on the side of his house. Weather data updates every seven seconds and is routed to the Web through a $70 computer he bought on eBay.

The self-proclaimed math and science nut sat down with The Fire Island News on the aforementioned sunny day. Taylor flipped open his laptop and pulled up a long list of charts, graphs and statistics. His eyes widened.

“This is all the data, right here,” he said, looking at a squiggly line representing how the rain has piled up in recent weeks. He scrolled down the page, and kept scrolling. Another chart appeared. Pointing to a red blip inside a box, he said, “That was the storm last year.”

You can find out exactly what the weather is in Fair Harbor by going to www.wunderground.com, typing in the zip code, 11760, and clicking on Pine Walk, Fair Harbor, NY.

Although he said the system doesn’t require much upkeep, as a volunteer firefighter for Fair Harbor, he comes out every couple weeks in the off season for drills and meetings—but also to tweak the system.

“ Readings have been a little too hot lately, and I’m working on correcting it,” he said.

To that end, Taylor has enlisted the help of Tom Wilson, a professor at SUNY Stonybrook he met at a recent community association meeting. Wilson will help him perfect his tracking system so he can meet federal meteorological standards and get his data routed into a national database of weather information maintained by the government.

And to think, some people just like to go to the beach