Sebec Lake Weather Station Part 1 

Todd Simcox

The end of an era is coming to the Sebec Lake area.Bill Larrabee has been a dedicated weather observer dating back to the early 1960s.Bill has always been instrumental for T-V 5 and the National Weather Service.Unfortunately… due to health related issues… Bill and his wife Mary Jane are moving out of the Pine Tree State and headed south to Virginia to live near his daughter.Bill began his career in upstate New York near the shores of Lake Ontario, helping out the weather bureau in Albany before moving to Maine in 1989. Since then, he has played a big role in reporting daily weather conditions at Sebec Lake to the National Weather Service office in Caribou and to us here at TV 5… at one point taking on the nickname “Chilly Willy”.”Bill has been doing the co-op observer routine going on 33 years now… but since he’s been doing this, he’s just been one person that you can rely on 365 days a year.”One of approximately 8000 co-op weather observers across the United States. Bill doesn’t take this job very lightly. “We make history every day here. No 2 days are alike, like a snowflake. They’re different somehow, by 1 or 2 degrees they can be different and I’ve seen a couple of days that were that close within a degree or two but hardly ever have I seen them exactly the same, so we’re making history here.” “We have over 7000 daily observations and they’re uninterrupted at this time.”Bill has even joined forces with another observer across the lake in Barnard to ensure the data recordings continue if he’s heading out of town.”We vowed that we’d never take our vacations at the same time.”They’re called co-op weather observers because they cooperate with the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service sets them up with the necessary equipment and then once a day, maybe more depending on the weather, they report back to the NWS things like temperature, precipitation, snowfall and snow depth, whatever data is relevant that day. All of this work is done on a volunteer basis and is considered to be vital information to the National Weather Service.”Its vital to us because they fill in the gaps between automated stations especially for climatology purposes but they also fill in the gaps between automated stations so we can use their data for warning verification, things like that.”In 2006 the National Weather Service awarded Bill with the Thomas Jefferson Award, recognizing his accurate and consistent observations and for his years of cooperation with the NWS.”It meant a lot because I remember when I began, a lot of the old timers who had been in the business at that time… They were my mentors and I kind of looked up to them.”