WeatherFest, Money, and the Aftermath

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In a little over a week (Jan24-27th) thousands of meteorologists will arrive in Seattle, for the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (perhaps a good reason to leave town!). The meeting, located at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle, includes two dozen conferences, town meetings, and all sorts of special events. The Sunday before (January 23rd) there will be a special gathering open to the public, and specially the K-12 set and their parents: WEATHERFEST. From 12-4 PM there will be an extravaganza of activities (booths, talks, demonstrations), visits from local weather celebrities (like Jeff Renner and other TV notables), and even the launch of a weather balloon. The event is free of charge and you will go home with all sorts of freebies and souvenirs. What could be better than that? I know I am going to be there!

There is a Web site with more information on Weatherfest you can check out:

As you know, this blog has been advertising free (other than for my favorite links and math education). I am thinking of changing this and I will tell you why.

As you are aware, the State budget is not good and the university and my department have experienced substantial cuts. In addition, funding for maintaining all the UW weather software, modeling, and infrastructure is declining. Agencies are cutting their support of our local forecasting effort and I am searching for a solution other than cutting the offerings back or lessening our work. I am thinking of trying the google advertising system on this blog and seeing if that could bring in enough income to help. Let me be clear, none of this funding will go to me personally--it will all go to department staff or logistical support (like hard disks when one fails). Of course, if there is a high-tech billionaire or millionaire out there who wants to help, that would be good too! But, in case there isn't, I would like to try this approach and see if it can help stabilize the situation.

Storm Aftermath

Yesterday, we tried a little experiment with nowcasting (describing what is happening now and during the next few hours) and I hoped you found it useful. I really believe that this is the missing ingredient for weather prediction. At 4 PM yesterday it was clear that rush hour would be snow free over Puget Sound and the traditional sources of information were not equipped to tell you this.

Our forecast models often have yesterday, when the snow came in a few hours later than forecast and with greater intensity than expected. But a few hours before we often know what is going to happen and this information is useful. I am was amazed that the blog had 90,000 hits during the nowcasting experiment....implying to me that you also feel it is helpful.

A good portion of my research is going in this direction now, and I am working with the city of Seattle to develop an array of nowcasting applications: like Rainwatch, WindWatch, and SnowWatch. And the advent of smartphones gives us a wonderful delivery system for nowcasts and up to the minute weather information. In fact, I am try to convince some of my ex-students to form a company to deliver weather information to smartphones in clever ways. This is the future! Imagine a smartphone app like "WeatherProtector" that knows your position and constantly monitors the weather...warning you when a shower or high winds approach. Or another one that tell you when to start your bike ride to stay completely dry on a showery day. We could do either of these and a lot more.
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