Local weatherman travels to Arctic | SteamboatToday.com

Local weatherman travels to Arctic

Caouette sees future climatic turmoil in glacial activity during recent expedition

Melinda Dudley

Jean Paul Caouette of Oak Creek, better known as Jean the Weatherman, sets off on his recent research trip to the Arctic Circle. Caouette sports traditional Native American garb, pieces of which have been passed down in his family for generations.

— Jean Paul Caouette – better known as Jean the Weatherman to South Routt residents – has spent the past 40 years studying the planet, and when it comes to the hot-button issues of global warming and climate change, he has a dire message to share.

“Planet Earth is in deep trouble,” Caouette said. “The climate is in turmoil.”

On Caouette’s recent trip to the Arctic, he studied changes to glaciers that confirmed his fears that climates are headed for a chaotic future.

In November, Caouette took his third trip to Baffin Island, in northeast Canada above the Arctic Circle, to study the changing landscape and glacier activity.

“Baffin Island is one of the few islands in the world with nothing on it – no plants, no life, just tundra,” Caouette said. “The reason scientists study Baffin Island is that climate records show that’s where all ice ages have begun.”

Caouette dismissed global warming naysayers, citing examples ranging from deforestation in the Amazon and the Earth’s oxygen-production capacity to the planet’s long overdue magnetic field reversal and the galactic lineup approaching in 2012.

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“Just look around if you really can’t see what’s going on,” Caouette said.

Indigenous peoples from around the world have been counting on the reliability of star signs and weather patterns for thousands of years – practices that have become increasingly difficult the last dozen years, he said.

Caouette, an Iroquois Mohawk Native American, believes he inherited his forecasting gift from his lineage. His family can trace the gift back to the 16th century, and it skips generations, previously landing on his grandfather, Caouette said.

“I knew I had it when I was 4 years old – I just started talking about sunrises and sunsets,” Caouette said. He made his first forecast shortly after, predicting rainstorms on a clear sunny day when he told a neighbor to stop hanging laundry to dry and take it inside, he said.

Although Caouette has no formal training as a climatologist or meteorologist, he has been studying ocean currents, volcanoes, glaciers, geothermal activity and atmospheric happenings since 1967. He regularly maintains 14 weather boards in South Routt to share his forecasts with the community.

Virginia Paxton, who has been following Caouette’s weather forecasts for more than a decade, has one of his weather boards hanging at Spiro’s Trading Post, which she co-owns with her husband. Not only are his predictions more accurate than any other for South Routt, Paxton said, she also gets an education beyond the five-day forecast.

“I really enjoy when we talk about what it’s doing in the Arctic, and the hurricanes,” Paxton said. “It a way to learn about subjects I might not otherwise get an education about.”

Paxton uses Caouette’s skills not just at home, but also to plan ahead for vacations.

“I always ask before we leave town, to see what’s going to happen,” Paxton said.

Caouette uses forecasting methods outside the mainstream – Paxton recalled one day several years ago when Caouette brought her a caterpillar, and made predictions about the seasons based on the markings on its back.

“He was spot on,” she said.

Caouette’s six weather stations – one at his Oak Creek house and five in the Flat Tops – also serve as meditation centers.

“I cannot do this without God – it’s all spirits,” he said.

Caouette’s reach extends beyond his local weather boards. He has done segments on The Weather Channel series “Epic Conditions,” which recognizes him for his 80 percent accuracy rate. The program also is due to begin reruns on the The Learning and Discovery channels.

In December, Caouette did a live weather broadcast to 1.5 million viewers on Australia’s “Today” morning show, predicting the weather down under from the Steamboat Ski Area while the show’s production crew was in town.