business of weather data

Forecast to Finance — The Business of Weather Data

A raging tornado. A destructive hurricane. A sweeping flash flood. When Mother Nature takes a turn for the worse, weather data is helping enterprises keep their workers safer, protect their property better, reduce shipping delays, conduct business more efficiently, and minimize risk to their business.

It all starts with data – historical weather patterns stored in archives and real-time data from satellites, weather centers, governments, and meteorological partners from around the world. But, the true value of weather data can only be realized by translating these disparate datasets into actionable business insights. That’s where AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, a leading provider of customized, pinpoint-specific weather warnings to large businesses, comes into the picture.

business of weather data

Where some might see extreme weather as purely destructive, AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions sees an opportunity to help other businesses keep their employees and customers safe, enhance business continuity, reduce liability, minimize the negative impacts of weather and help businesses operate more effectively.  Just ask Jonathan Porter, AccuWeather’s Vice President and General Manager, Business Services, who is also an experienced meteorologist.

With global headquarters in State College, Pa., and other locations around the world, AccuWeather serves more than 1.5 billion people daily through radio, television, newspapers, smart phones, tablets, connected TVs, the AccuWeather Network and Additionally, AccuWeather produces and distributes news, weather content, and video for more than 180,000 third-party websites. AccuWeather also serves more than half of the Fortune 500 companies and thousands of businesses globally. Using one of the largest databases of weather forecasting models in the world1, Porter leads the division of AccuWeather that helps businesses understand the potential impacts of extreme weather in extreme detail – and plan for it.

“Weather affects almost everything that we do on a day-to-day basis. It affects how we feel. It affects what we buy. It affects what we do during our day. It affects our travel. It significantly affects many, many aspects of the business world,” says Jonathan Porter.

Think weather modeling several months into the future, down to minute-by-minute micro-forecasts. That’s the power of understanding weather data. In this blog post, we dig into the business of weather and how it’s helping enterprises stay safer, operate more efficiently, and find new ways to bring in more revenue.

More Weather Data Could Mean More Dollars

Seasons change, and with them, so might change what people wear. Snowy winters could bring out heavy winter coats and boots, while hot summers are often a medley of sun-friendly beachwear. Herein lies a business opening: understand how weather will likely change each season ahead of time and adjust retail inventory accordingly. For a big box retailer or convenience store chain, for example, access to such information becomes not just a way to stay in front of changing weather conditions, but also the competition.

Enter: weather data. By identifying correlations between historical weather patterns, real-time weather information, and shopping patterns of a business’s customers, AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions can create seasonal forecasts that show anticipated temperature and precipitation, among more than 300 other unique ways of describing the weather2. The end result is a data-driven model that enterprises can use to adjust their inventory and supply chain operations, long before changes in the weather can negatively impact their business.

“We can then take those relationships that we find and turn those into predictive and prescriptive analytics that tell a particular customer, ‘You’ll sell X amount of these products at this store next week,’” Jonathan Porter explains. This ensures the business will have the right products at the right time and right place to meet consumer demand – and also the right staffing mix.

business of weather data
As seasons change, so might consumers’ shopping preferences. Weather data can help enterprises make changes to their inventory to address these changes ahead of time.

These detailed projections use multiple layers of location-specific weather data and are typically provided in winter, spring, and summer. Combined with business intelligence, companies can use these projections to make a host of informed choices, such as advertising specific products or solutions based on weather patterns in certain regions.

And more data can enable enterprises to go even further. Historical weather data, seasonal forecasts, and long-term outlooks can link the impact of weather down to the store and SKU level3. Imagine being able to use weather data to predict sales of a certain product during a certain period of time. In this way, companies can be proactive with their staffing, production and shipping needs to match customer demand to inventory, possibly bringing in more profits.

Saving Lives and Protecting Property with Weather-Based Alerts

When it comes to extreme weather, data can also help keep workers safe from harm. Take the example of companies with a large number of outdoor workers, such as those in utilities and construction among many other industries. By enabling customized alerts and warnings for enterprises, weather data can inform companies when to schedule their workers’ shifts to account for both seasonal and long-term weather trends. Reliable safety procedures can be created and implemented to protect employees. At the same time, “false alarms” – warnings of extreme weather events that end up not affecting the people warned – can be kept at a minimum with the help of location-specific weather insights.

business of weather data
In the event of severe storms, outdoor workers can be proactively reassigned to keep them safe.

By plane or by train, by day or by night. For companies who ship physical products, knowing how the weather could change and its potential impact in the short and long term is critical to their transportation and logistics operations. Through preemptive alerts about impending extreme weather events – tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, ice and others – organizations can get a clearer picture of the potential impact of weather on the movement of their goods. With this information, product rerouting or delays can be planned out by enterprises well in advance of when bad weather strikes.  Using these unique insights, companies can also improve customer service — for instance, by notifying customers in advance about potential delays to product shipments.

Insurance Companies Use Weather Data to Reduce Risk

Insurers are partially in the business of data and statistics, using advanced models to try to figure out the right conditions for which a policyholder will be covered. Weather data is just another input to their model. Only, this input makes use of multiple layers that visually overlay past, present and future weather events.

In the short term, this statistical information can help underwriters test scenarios of possible extreme weather event landfalls, predict their level of risk, and estimate the cost of the storm’s damage. Such data-driven testing could reveal the need to place a temporary hold on new insurance policies, reducing the financial hit to an insurer of a severe weather event. It might also reveal the right placement of disaster relief teams to, in the aftermath of weather damage, provide affected people with temporary food, shelter, and medical supplies. This proactive planning could reduce insurance claims by informing policy holders of actions they can take in advance of severe weather to reduce the risk of damage and associated claims. In advance of high winds, for example, homeowners could be advised to secure all loose outdoor items to prevent them from becoming damage-inducing projectiles.

Further on, weather data can help insurers calculate the probabilities of severe weather events occurring years down the road. As data-driven insights continue to develop, insurance companies will continue to rely on companies such as AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions to measure and prepare for the future impact of weather.

“The availability of robust, easily accessible datasets from companies enables AccuWeather to use business performance data with its unique, historical weather database to generate an understanding of how weather really affects a business,” reflects Jonathan Porter.

More on the Data Behind Mother Nature


  1. AccuWeather – Excellence in Weather Forecasting, Warnings and Information.
  2. AccuWeather – Detailed Seasonal Weather Forecasts.
  3. AccuWeather Custom Weather Warnings, Forecasts and Analytics for Retailers. 

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