Although weather forecasting has become increasingly accurate due to radical advances in data science, the ability to deliver hyper-local and contextual information to businesses, governments and consumers remains elusive. Agencies such as the National Weather Service and European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts aren't designed or equipped to deliver the granular data that's increasingly in demand.
As a result, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is now looking to take forecasting to a more granular and practical level by bringing "high-resolution forecast models to localized areas," says Mary Glackin, senior vice president for Science & Forecast Operations at the company. The system currently produces forecasts for about 2.2. billion locations worldwide, totaling as many as 26 billion forecasts per day.
The Weather Company uses sophisticated models that analyze data from around the world. It relies on more than 100 terabytes of third-party data from Weather Underground's network of nearly 200,000 personal weather stations, as well as atmospheric pressure data from smartphones and traditional radar and satellite data.
By plugging all this data into a cloud-based high-performance computing environment, The Weather Company generates specialized forecasts that can be put to use by businesses—such as commercial airlines, agribusiness, engineering firms and insurance companies—as well as government entities.
For example, "It's possible to use high-resolution models to fine-tune flight schedules and more fully understand the costs associated with different cancellation options," Glackin points out.