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Local Student Keeps Watching Weather

Seventh grader Andrew Bottom runs two weather-related websites.

Herndon Middle School seventh grader Andrew Bottom runs the website Reston Weather Service, dedicated to local weather, as well as one about severe storms.

Herndon Middle School seventh grader Andrew Bottom runs the website Reston Weather Service, dedicated to local weather, as well as one about severe storms. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— When it comes to weather, Herndon Middle School student Andrew Bottom has got it covered. The seventh grader and Reston resident has been studying the weather since his days at Aldrin Elementary School.

Bottom has been fascinated by the weather since he was in second grade, and recalls Hurricane Ernesto, which hit the mid-Atlantic region in August 2006 as being a particular catalyst.

Bottom runs two weather websites, one dedicated to covering severe weather events, and another focused on Reston.

On the severe storms site, Bottom writes about the four major types of storms: tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and thunderstorms. He also includes seasonal safety tips.

BOTTOM TOOK A CLASS in web design to learn how to create his website, the end result of which was his severe storms site. His parents gave him the URL for Reston Weather Service as a Christmas gift.

"I do all my own HTML for the site, which can be a long process writing it out for each page, but I got used to it after a while," Bottom said. "Now it only takes me about five or six minutes."

Bottom updates his Reston Weather Service site twice a day, usually first thing in the morning and in the mid to late afternoon. It contains daily and nightly forecasts, as well as the five-day forecast.

"I put up the forecast for each day, and also make sure to post any weather advisory that is happening," Bottom said. "It’s been an interesting year, since 2012 has been one of the hottest years ever, and I was able to write about the lack of snow over the winter."

Bottom was unable to do much work after the derecho strike at the end of June, like many in the region, he lost power that Friday evening.

"From the research I’ve done, one happens about every four years, but there’s actually been a lot lately," he said. "Especially in the west. One rolled through Chicago and Cincinnati recently."

HIS RESTON WEATHER SERVICE site also contains a weather blog, which Bottom uses to explore various topical issues, such as tornado droughts, Death Valley and historic temperatures.

"I try to update the blog on at least a weekly basis, usually more during the summer and when there are a lot of weather-related activities going on," he said. "I think hurricanes are one of the things that interests me the most, there’s just so much power that can do so much damage involved. Any of the tropical weather systems."

Bottoms says his hero is Weather Channel Meteorologist Jim Cantore, and though it’s years away, he’s already looking at colleges that offer a program, including Cantore’s alma mater Lyndon State University.

He even has on camera experience, appearing on ABC7’s morning newscast in 2007, giving the forecast and other information throughout the broadcast. He also spent some time in FOX 5’s newsroom in September 2010, examining the facilities and even sitting at the anchor desk with Tony Perkins and Tucker Barnes

"It was fun, they showed up about 3:30 a.m. with their RV at our townhouse in Reston," he said.

Bottom also has regular experience, becoming Aldrin’s unofficial weatherman during his last few years there.

"They really helped solidify his interest there, he got to go on their news program, and met Bob Ryan," said his mother, Angela Bottom. "That interest led to him creating the websites, because he wanted a place to show what he knows."

Bottom’s severe storm site can be found at www.allaboutseverestorms.webs.com, and the Reston Weather Service can be found at www.restonweatherservice.com.