WEST ISLAND WEATHER STATION KA1WBH
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CERTIFIED SKYWARN SPOTTER ID# 11- 070
MLBaron is a Certified SkyWarn Weather Spotter (ID 11-070) and maintains the West Island Weather Station KA1WBH. He comes from a decorated military family . An accomplished artist, Baron practices in varied media from the old American Folk Art of Scrimshaw, to award winning videos and photography. He is also a recognized scrimshaw & antique ivory appraiser specializing in counterfeit detection. Living on West Island, Fairhaven,MA offers an abundance of subject matter. With every changing season along the shore or inside the West Island State Reservation, an opportunity for a special photo is never hard to come by. This small island is located near the Cape Cod Canal and Martha's Vineyard, MA. West Island is small enough to fit inside New York's Central Park.
Routine servicing of gear at the West Island Weather Station tower in Fairhaven,MA occurs year round, weather permitting. MLBaron is geared and belted up on tower.
Inspection of tower structure, wiring and instruments keeps the SkyWarn rig fine tuned. Since 1992 the WIWS tower has been through historic and significant storms including the March 1993 "Super-Storm" (one of the most powerful winter storms along the Eastern seaboard since records were kept) along with numerous blizzards, thunderstorms, hailstorms and a few powerful tropical storms. The tower nicknamed "Dorothy" was erected by Peter Jarosik-KA1WBE. The West Island Weather Station is one of the highest rated American PWS Weather Stations in the world.
Above: ML multi-prize winner "Thunderstruck" weather trivia contest sponsored by The Weather Channel. Photo taken August 9, 1991. 10 days later Hurricane Bob hit SouthCoast MA.
Citations: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts House of Representatives, the Town of Fairhaven (3), Coalition of Vietnam Vets. Hands Across the River, Fairhaven Rotary Club, the National Academy of Cable Excellence (ACE) nomination. The Massachusetts Cable TV Commission, First Place award for documentary 1985 Hurricane Gloria. Massachusetts Cable TV Commission First Place Award for a documentary on the 1938 Hurricane. The Massachusetts Cable TV Commission nomination for a documentary on the abandoned Atlas Tack factory 1987. National Weather Service Citation 1997. Judge for The Academy of Cable Excellence Awards, Gabriel Awards-Catholic Diocese, Massachusetts Cable TV Commission, Award for dedicated civilian service from The Massachusetts Army National Guard. Certificate of Merit from The American Cancer Society, Person of the Year award from MADD. Person of the Month from the New Bedford Standard-Times. Past Program Director for Fairhaven and Acushnet Public Access TV for 14 years. Publicity Director for Save West Island, Inc., Chairman of the Fairhaven Arts Cultural Council for 6 years. Amateur radio operator, Callsign: KA1WBH, Technician Plus, member of The American Radio Relay League, Consultant to The Insurance Information Institute - Boston MA Office, Certificate of Appreciation National Weather Service.
(left: ML with Dr Bob Sheets-National Hurricane Center and Bob Thompson, Director of National Weather Service-Northeast)
Otis AFB with a P3 Orion Hurricane Hunter Plane
With Boston Meteorologist Harvey Leonard
On the Vineyard with Walter Cronkite
With Mass Governor Michael Dukakis,State Rep John Bradford 1989
With Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci 1992
ML continues his life long practice of Scrimshaw, now in his 40th year. ML is also a recognized expert in the authentication of Scrimshaw and Ivory artifacts, specializing in counterfeit detection. He continues to spot weather since 1975. In his spare time he is a recreational shell fisherman , avid mountain bike rider, and beach goer with his dogs in the trails of The West Island State Reservation. He also is a storm/weather correspondent for WBSM AM 1420, Fairhaven Neighborhood News, the Advocate , The Standard-Times., and a free lance writer/photographer on both local and national publications.
M.L.Baron, who always was artistic took up the practice of Scrimshaw as a young man. He was taught and given helpful guidance by the late Milton K. Delano, scrimshaw artist to President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Delano was a neighbor who lived only 2 blocks away from Mark's (ML's) boyhood home on Bridge St. in Fairhaven. In the back of his home Cushman Park once was a pond in which small whale ships could shelter from storms in the 1800's.
Most of his clients are from the private sector. However a large amount of M.L.Baron's reproduction work spans the globe. Through today's technology I need only make one "master" piece and it can be cast and duplicated to the exact detail of the original. " I've done other work for many large companies and government entities both nationally and abroad including The Republic of China and Russia. I also am an avid Titanic buff and historian. and have engraved what is said to be the most detailed scrimshaw engraving of Titanic yet. (I live on an island in Buzzards Bay just 10 miles away from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and have friends who work there.) Hope you find my work of high quality and I look forward to sharing it with you. I will continue to build upon this site as the time allows." states ML. Feel free to email M.L.Baron for more info and comments : email@example.com Check out my video productions as well! "M.L.Baron-My products of today are the heirlooms of tomorrow"
Special Commissions include: DISNEY, 3M, US NAVY, US CONGRESS, AT&T, PURINA COORS, SMITH & WESSON, RUGER, GERBER/PAUL CUTLERY, MGM, SHREVE,CRUMP & LOWE, DUCKS UNLIMITED SHELL, and COLIBRI.
Text and photos by Hank Seaman
Does the name M.L.Baron jangle your windchimes?
Whether you recognize it or not, make no mistake, you know him ... and you've known him for years.
The name's a misnomer, however. Baron's actually the king -- of SouthCoast weather prognostication -- and every time you tune into a local TV or radio station weather report you become his loyal subject. Rain, snow, sleet or shine, you make direct daily contact with the Fairhaven resident known as "Mr. Weather." You see, Mark Louis Baron is one of only a hundred or so National Weather Service "spotters" between Cranston, R.I., and Cape Cod and the Islands. Thanks to them, forecasters are able to predict weather patterns and events with remarkable accuracy.
To that end, Mr. Baron has amassed an impressive array of equipment in the basement of the West Island home he shares with his wife Carole, daughter Brittany, 9, and son Mark Jr., 7.
State-of-the-art anemometers, barometers, lightning-detection devices and humidity-temperature sensors vie with elaborate computers in what has been described as the best civilian weather site in the area.
Exactly how does one become the eyes and ears of the SouthCoast?
"I've never had any formal training," says the man who nowadays is a key meteorological consultant for the entire Eastern seaboard. "I've just always been fascinated by the weather."
As a little boy he remembers being terrified by lightning. "I'd put my head under the covers. I was scared to death," said Mr. Baron, 40. "I guess that started it all."
As a student at New Bedford's St. Anthony High School, his interest in weather patterns prompted him to embark on an intense "one-step-at-a-time, self-taught kind-of-thing" education. He started with a cheap indoor-outdoor temperature sensor and just sort of went from there, adding more and more equipment over the years.
It didn't take long for local radio stations to start tapping into his know-how. "Nineteen-eighty-five and Hurricane Gloria really did it. After that it picked up big-time," he says.
But there's far more to the man than cold fronts and high-pressure systems.
In 1982, for example, he designed a logo for the fledgling Fairhaven-Acushnet's Cable TV station Access 2. Once inside the door he liked what he saw and decided to stay on as a volunteer in television production. Always a quick study, within two years he had been named program director, and by 1988 had produced a national "Ace" cable award nominee. His documentary on "A Wind to Shake the World," the book by former Standard-Times editorial writer Everett S. Allen, was one of only six programs in the country to be so honored.
Since then he has hobnobbed with some of broadcast journalism's heavyweights, the legendary Walter Cronkite being by far his favorite. The two worked together in producing a 60-second Access 2 commercial on "How Much I Like Buzzards Bay" in 1993.
"That was my biggest thrill," he says.
But perhaps the greatest surprise for many people who think they know M.L. Baron is his prolific scrimshaw work. For many years he has been quietly producing pieces of exquisite beauty for various collections around the world. It's therapeutic, he says; he loves to get lost in the peace and quiet for hours on end. Hours, indeed. One piece can take as many as 40; some lines are so delicate they require micro-surgical blades and extreme magnification.
It's clear that patience is one of Mr. Baron's virtues.
"Mail-order catalogs, companies, corporations ... there are well over 3 million pieces out there at this point," he says with a hint of pride.
He has etched mass-produced works for companies as diverse as IBM, Coors, Marlboro, Camel cigarettes, the Armed Forces and even the Disney Company.
For Disney, he did a series of pocket-watch faces -- "you know, Mickey, Goofy ..." -- and it was an enormous success. "The irony was they sold out and I couldn't even get one for myself," he laughs.
He gives credit for his start in scrimshanding to his grandfather, George Fredette, and a lifelong interest in local history. His grandfather had a love for whaling ships and New Bedford. Every Sunday after the young boy delivered his papers, he would join his grandfather on a historical tour. "Each week was a different point of interest, and slowly but surely he transferred this love to me," Mr. Baron says.
On those weekly travels he became fascinated by the pieces of scrimshaw he saw in the Whaling Museum and elsewhere. It quickly became a passion, and it wasn't long before he tried his hand at the "only true American folk art," as he calls it. It was yet another case of self-instruction for the local Renaissance Man. His parents, Irene and Louis Baron, encouraged these early efforts, even setting up a workshop in a spare bedroom of their Bridge Street, Fairhaven, home.
It didn't hurt that Milton Delano, "who did all the scrimshaw for President Kennedy," lived only two blocks away. Mr. Delano took the young M.L. under his wing, guiding him and offering valuable instruction. By the time Mr. Baron was 18 he was making pieces on consignment throughout SouthCoast and Cape Cod.
The art of scrimshaw, which used to be performed on whalebone, is now done on polymers that can be mass-produced. Ironically, it is the use of these man-made plastics that has signaled a rebirth of the art form.
Indeed, with a 1984 master plate he designed to save the humpback whale, Mr. Baron claims that "scrimshaw kind of came full circle for me, using polymer in an art form to save the whales whose very bones and teeth gave rise to the practice in the first place."
What's left for M.L. Baron? Plenty. He's a person who sets goals. As a scrimshander, his aim is to get a presidential commission just as Milt Delano did 37 years ago. "It would complete the circle," he says. As a cable TV program director, he wants very badly to win a first place Ace Cable Award. And as a weather guru? He smiles but leaves the question unanswered.
Weatherman, program director, scrimshander, husband, father. An awful lot of hats. Where does he find time to wear them all?
"That's easy," he answers. "If it's a choice between weather and scrimshaw, weather wins, hands down. But if it's a choice between weather and my kids ...
"... well, my family always comes first."
Standard-Times staff photographer Hank Seaman is fair to partly cloudy every other Friday in the Living section's "Snapshots." E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org