Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hurricane Matthew: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Forecast for Orlando

Unfortunately, there was a lot of "bad information" out there in the lead-up to Hurricane Matthew, particularly with respect to potential impacts in the Orlando area.

We have a large concentration of clients in Florida, and one SiteWarn client in particular was scheduled to host a large conference in Orlando right at the peak of the storm.

For several days prior to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, our SiteWarn team had consistently forecast winds of 40-50 mph with possibly some gusts of 50-60 mph for the Orlando area in association with Matthew.  You can see this for yourself in a snippet from a detailed forecast sent to clients on Tuesday morning, 10/4/16 (approximately 3 days prior to impacts in the Orlando area):

email version of SiteWarn forecast for Orlando
issued to clients at 10:00 a.m. EDT Tuesday, 10/4/16
(click to enlarge)

On Thursday morning, 10/6/16, our client in charge of the Orlando conference sent the following text message to our company President:

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the media putting out overly-aggressive information regarding potential impacts to the Orlando area.  The screenshot below shows the "official" National Weather Service (NWS) forecast of impacts for the Orlando area, issued at 5:05 PM EDT on Wednesday, 10/5/16:

As you can see, even the National Weather Service was forecasting "complete destruction" with widespread 60-80 mph winds and "peak gusts to 100 mph" for the Orlando area.

Throughout this time we continued to reassure our clients in the Orlando area that they could expect frequent wind gusts of 40-50 mph with possibly some brief gusts in the 50-60 mph range at the height of the storm on Friday morning.  We also consistently attempted to put their minds at ease in that hurricane conditions would likely remain to the East of the Orlando area:

email version of SiteWarn forecast for Orlando
issued to clients at 5:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday, 10/4/16
(click to enlarge)

So, what actually happened in Orlando?  The below observations were recorded at the the Orlando International Airport, and show consistent wind gusts in the 40-50 mph range with one single gust of 60 mph recorded at the peak of the event (exactly as we had been forecasting for several days):

Observed winds and gusts at the Orlando Intl Airport
Friday, 10/7/16

At WeatherGuidance, we take every weather forecast and storm warning situation very seriously.  We know that our clients depend on us to provide accurate, actionable information in a variety of situations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico every single day.

If site-specific, accurate and dependable weather information and storm warnings are important to your organization, then you need WeatherGuidance SiteWarn on your side.

Give us a call today or visit our website and see how WeatherGuidance SiteWarn can help you take the guesswork out of the weather forecast!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In Business, a "Free Weather Forecast" Often Fails To Get the Job Done...

As a private sector weather information, forecast and storm warning firm, one of the most common questions that we're asked is "why should I pay you for weather forecasts when I can get them for free on the internet or TV?"  Without a doubt, this is a situation where the old adage "you get what you pay for" rings true more than ever.  We'd like to share just one recent example to better illustrate this for you.

"Free" weather information typically finds its origin at the National Weather Service (NWS), which is the government agency responsible for providing weather information, forecasts and storm warnings for the United States and its territories.  For the public at large just trying to determine what to wear to work or school on a given day, etc., this information is often sufficient - but for a business or organization that depends on precision and accuracy, it almost always falls short of what is actually needed.

National Weather Service "Point" Forecast for Kyle, Tx on 9/19/13

The graphic above shows the NWS "point forecast" (a term meant to convey a location-specific and presumably more accurate outlook) for Kyle, TX for this past Thursday, September 19th.  Kyle (a Southern suburb of Austin) is one of the fastest growing cities in Texas and is bustling with construction activity, the managers of which are in need of highly accurate, pinpoint weather information.

I've highlighted the "Precipitation Potential" portion of the NWS forecast, which as you can see called for a 60% chance of rain throughout the entire period from 7:00 a.m. that day, through at least 6:00 a.m. the following morning.

The problem?  Coverage of precipitation was no where near the 60 percent level during the majority of that period of time.  The radar image below (with Kyle near the center) was taken at 2:00 pm CDT on that day:

New Braunfels, TX Area Radar Image at 2:00 PM CDT on 9/19/13

...and as you can see only 20 percent (or less) of the region had any form of precipitation ongoing, and what was there was very light in intensity.

The WeatherGuidance SiteWarn® forecast for that day called for no chance of rain during the morning hours, only a very slight (less than 20 percent) chance at midday and then a 20-30 percent chance of rain during the mid to late afternoon hours, as you can see on one of the forecast graphics that was provided to our customers:

WeatherGuidance SiteWarn Rain Probability Forecast for a Kyle, TX job site

Furthermore, we informed our customers that any rainfall would average less than 0.35 inch, as indicated below:

WeatherGuidance SiteWarn Rainfall Forecast for a Kyle, TX Job Site

Our much more precise forecast prompted our construction clients in the area to continue working, and at least one of them told us that they would have ceased or scaled back operations had they gone with the "broad brush" NWS forecast of high precipitation potential - which never materialized.

Above is just a small example of the type of work that we do for our clients in the construction, agriculture, aviation, event planning and other weather sensitive industries - day in and day out.

If you're tired of wasting time and money on "free" weather forecasts, give us a call today at (512) 504-3151.  We'd love to set up a free, no obligation trial demonstration of our services so that you can evaluate them in real time.  You can also visit our website for more information and request your free trial at this link.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lightning Strikes Way Too Close for Comfort at a High School Football Game in Orlando

Those in attendance at the Orlando University High School football game got way more than they bargained for this past Friday night as a bolt of cloud to ground lightning struck a tree just off of the field.  The photo above was taken by Jeffrey King, a parent of one of the band members that was playing at the time the lightning struck.

The "striking" event was also captured in the following video posted to YouTube (you might want to jump ahead to about 5 minutes in, as the strike takes place at exactly 5:07):

Cloud to ground lightning is not a stranger in Florida, which in weather circles is known as the lightning capital of the U.S.  Indeed, during the period 1959-2007, lightning strikes killed 449 people in the sunshine state, far more than the nearest contender, which was Texas with a (still) staggering 206 deaths.  The folks in the stands adjacent to that tree are very, very fortunate to have been able to walk away from this event, for sure!

Bob Jones, the father of a player on the opposing team is quoted by the Orlando Sentinel Varsity Blog as saying "The weather was great and it hit without warning..."

Baseball fields, football fields and other outdoor sporting venues are prime targets for lightning strikes, primarily due to their vast and often wide open surroundings, metal seating and towering light poles.  Fortunately, in this case the lightning strike did not directly impact those in attendance.  Clearly, had they been given the opportunity to take shelter before the strike occurred, everyone would have been better off.

In the advanced technological era of today, there is no reason for a sporting venue to be caught off guard by a lightning strike that occurs "without warning". WeatherGuidance SiteWarn® service provides pinpoint warning of the threat of lightning (and other weather related hazards) based on specific parameters established by the client and our operational storm warning team.

At WeatherGuidance, we don't just send out an alert after a lightning strike has already taken place (frankly, what purpose would that serve, especially if your facility is the one struck by the first lightning bolt)?  Instead, we use advanced, state of the art technology and proprietary methods to warn clients of impending lightning strikes before they actually take place.  This allows our clients to move employees, customers and fans to safety before lightning strikes the tree next to the field (or even worse).

If you'd like to learn more about SiteWarn® service from WeatherGuidance, please visit our website.  You can even sign-up for a free, no obligation trial demonstration of our service and evaluate its life saving potential in real time!