Friday, December 23, 2022

Modern Meteorology -- A Vital, But Underused, Tool

The economic loss and human casualties from the major storm and cold wave now winding down are still to be totaled, there is no question that they are much lower than they would have been 150 years ago before the science of meteorology began. 

The conditions with this storm -- extremely cold air with a rapid drop in temperature -- have, in the past, resulted in horrendous loss of lives. For example, "The Children's Blizzard" of 1888 took a stunning 235 lives. The snow amounts in the Great Plains in '88 were not that great -- the maximum was just six inches. But the extreme cold and high winds combined with greatly reduced visibility caused the children to become lost. There were thousands of children walking home from school at the time and they were caught, unaware, in those extreme conditions. Many died from exposure. 

That was certainly not the case with this storm. I made my first post about the cold wave on this blog on December 8, 13 days before the start of this event. 

On the 12th, I had narrowed down the timing and intensity:
My blog forecasts continued, in some cases several times per day, until late this morning. 

I personally know people who took earlier flights and modified their plans to avoid or manage the risks posed by this giant, powerful storm. 

But, here is the problem: I also know people who didn't change their plans. Some of them are leaving today since they are now behind the storm and road crews have had chance to clear the highways. Others cancelled their trips. Some of them are in dark, cold homes due to the (explicitly forecasted) power failures. 
12:05pm map of power failures. They were 
rapidly increasing at that point. 
The part that is perplexing to me is why more people did not alter their plans. I'm sure some attempted to but earlier flights were filled. But, when I saw the video of cars off the road and on their roofs, I have to again ask, why?
Chicago Sun-Times
I've written extensively about the gap between what weather science actually accomplishes versus the perception that forecasts of major events are too unreliable upon which to base action. But, I can tell you that my business clients at WeatherData/AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions acted on our forecasts. We had an extraordinarily high renewal rate even though our rates were higher than the industry average. 

We had a long-time client that signed a contract with another commercial meteorology company for three years because they offered a lower price. Because the client was federally regulated and was required to release this information, they found that they saved ~$140,000 over the three years as compared with our higher rates. But, they also had ~$32,000,000 more in weather costs (over the three years) than they had when they were using us. The greatest testament to the quality of our service was that they came back and resigned with us when the contact with the competitor was up. There are other, similar, examples. 

However, excellent weather forecasting and consulting services take both expertise and time. Some of the postings on the winter storm (this, for example) took more than two hours of time to accomplish. I had to do forecasts, make graphics and write the pieces (which have a higher than average number of typos, my apology). The same huge amount of time for each posting went into my forecasts for September's Hurricane Ian which struck southwest Florida. 
The above forecast was days before landfall and differed from others' forecasts in that it explicitly forecast a possible landfall farther south along Florida's Gulf Coast. That difference in forecasts continued until about 18 hours before landfall when other forecasts became more similar to mine. 

Because I don't like some of the advertisements I see on advertiser-supported blogs (which have, in the past, bordered on pornographic), I've never switched to that business model. I wanted a blog where people could come to receive high-quality information they could trust without worrying about their children seeing the content. But, as with the now-ending winter storm, some of the posts for Ian took hours. 

All this is to say that, after this most recent winter storm, I am likely in 2023 to move to a paid blog. If I do, I will likely add other features such as chat sessions and, perhaps, live coverage where I do a "play-by-play" on storms in progress. I can't justify these huge investments of time (which seem to be increasing) without some financial renumeration. 

Finally, if you are a businessperson who has a business affected by weather and would like to discuss my services, I invite you to call after Christmas and I'd be delighted to speak with you. You will find my contact information on my website. Or, if you would like to book one of my highly-entertaining and informative live presentations, please get hold of Ms. Mindy East at Baron Ridge Speakers Agency, here

I very much appreciate every one of my readers which is why I put so much effort into each and every posting. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you and yours have the best Christmas ever!

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