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The Sokokis Station watches the weather at Sebago Lake

June 10, 2006

Mike Anderson lives on the western shores of Sebago Lake and devotes his spare time to showing off his favorite part of the world in data and acrylic. Anderson, an amateur meteorologist, has established a modern weather station in his backyard and provides real time weather data on his Sokokis Station website. He also is a prolific self-taught artist who captures the local mountains and lakes on canvas landscapes.

"Living in Sebago near such a beautiful lake is like heaven," said Anderson. "I have lived in Sebago since I was born in 1968."

Sokokis Weather Station

Anderson first got interested in reporting the weather in 1987 when Paul Cousins sent out an appeal for observers to call in local weather conditions to Channel 13 for the nightly news. Anderson sent in a postcard to Cousins and was delighted to get a phone call from Cousins accepting him as a local weather observer. Cousins needed daily information on the current temperature, the daily maximum and minimum temperature, sky conditions, and rain fall totals for the day.

"Every evening around 10:45 p.m. for many years he would call me for my report," Anderson said. "My report would then be shown on the weather map for the area, and I felt pretty flattered to be a small but important part of letting people know what the Maine weather picture was like."

Mike Anderson has been watching
the weather in Sebago since 1987
and posts it on the web at weather station.
Photo by Allen Crabtree

Anderson purchased a Davis Weather Wizard station to do his original reporting. The old white louvered enclosure and rain gauge still sit in the front yard of his North Sebago home on Sokokis Road. He has recently upgraded to a new and more sophisticated Davis Vantage Pro2 Weather Station located at the side of his house. This popular weather station can be found in schools, airports, and fire departments across the country. It measures current temperature and keeps a record for each of the last 24 hours. The station measures rainfall for the last 15 minutes and the last 24 hours, 24 days, 24 months and 24 years. Historic rainfall data for the last 24 storms is kept with beginning and ending dates for each storm. Barometric pressure, humidity, rain rate, wind chill and wind direction, wind speed, dew point, sunrise and sunset, and the heat index are also recorded.

All data is then sent from an outdoor transmitter at the weather station to Anderson's receiver in the Sokokis Weather Station. For the last 4 years he has been reporting to the National Weather Service in Gray as a cooperative observer, and 3 years ago he launched his own Sokokis Station website where people could log on to see what current weather conditions were at Sebago Lake. Data is now sent electronically to the National Weather Service.

"I have a lot of people e-mail or call me and tell me how much they appreciate my weather station to plan vacations or fishing trips," said Anderson. "Channel 13 has given me awards for helping their weather reporting." He showed me a framed certificate from Channel 13 that proclaimed Anderson as the "most eager to share weather information."

The Sokokis Station is in a unique location on the northwest side of Sebago Lake, where there are no other weather stations. It is on the rough dividing line between ocean and inland weather changes, and important to establishing current weather and weather trends. Anderson remembers a winter storm on January 17 and 18, 1994 that illustrates this phenomenon. "Snow had been falling all day and there were a few inches on the ground the evening of January 17," he said. "The 11:00 pm weather report that night called for the snow to turn to ice and then rain. At Sokokis Station the snow continued and by morning there was nearly 16" of it on the ground with little ice. However, on the eastern side of the lake there was only 7 to 9" of snow and a huge amount of ice. I believe that the Sebago Lake region can be a dividing line between the coastal effects and the foothill influence."

To enhance his knowledge Anderson has taken a meteorological class at the Maine Technical Institute. Although his weather watching is only a hobby now, he dreams of being able to work as a meteorological technician for the National Weather Service some day.

The Self-Taught Artist

His hobby as an amateur meteorologist keeps Anderson busy, but he has found time to take up a second hobby. For the last 2 years he has been experimenting with painting and the shed behind his home that houses the Sokokis Weather Station doubles as his art studio.

Mike Anderson has recently taken up
painting and Here shows some of his art work
Photo by Allen Crabtree

"I started out with water colors, just fooling around," he said. "I enjoy experimenting with other mediums and found that I like working in acrylics best. All my work now is in acrylics, usually on stretched canvas or hard board."

Anderson loves landscapes, as his collection shows. The walls of his "studio" are hung with dozens of landscapes, some framed and many not. He has painted nearly 250 landscapes since taking up the hobby, and offers them for sale in shops in Naples and at Sebago Lake Station. Anderson also posts images of his artwork on the Sokokis Station website where customers may purchase them. He welcomes inquiries about his work, and has done some custom pieces for customers.

"I don't know where I am going with my art," said Anderson. "Right now, I am just enjoying learning the craft and becoming more skilled." He added that he wants to be able to make an impression with his art, and some day to be recognized for it. Anderson compares his early works with the most recent paintings he has done, and is free to acknowledge that he has come far but has some distance to go in the pursuit of his art.

Certainly, with his devotion and dedication to the physical and artistic aspects of his Sebago Lake world, he has already made an impression on the people around him.

Last updated June 10, 2006

Copyright © 2006, Allen Crabtree

Published in the Portland Press Herald, Neighbors Section, on September 7, 2006