Weather Underground (weather service)

Last updated
The Weather Underground, Inc.
Subsidiary
Founded1995;24 years ago (1995)
FounderJeff Masters
Headquarters,
Parent The Weather Company [2]
Website www.wunderground.com

Weather Underground is a commercial weather service providing real-time weather information over the Internet. Weather Underground provides weather reports for most major cities across the world on its website, as well as local weather reports for newspapers and websites. Its information comes from the National Weather Service (NWS), and over 250,000 personal weather stations (PWS). The website is available in many languages, and customers can access an ad-free version of the site with additional features for an annual fee. Weather Underground is owned by The Weather Company, a subsidiary of IBM. [3]

Weather Short-term state of the atmosphere

Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the lowest level of the atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Weather forecasting application of science and technology to predict the conditions of the atmosphere for a given location and time

Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the conditions of the atmosphere for a given location and time. People have attempted to predict the weather informally for millennia and formally since the 19th century. Weather forecasts are made by collecting quantitative data about the current state of the atmosphere at a given place and using meteorology to project how the atmosphere will change.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.

Contents

History

The company is based in San Francisco, California and was founded in 1995 as an offshoot of the University of Michigan Internet weather database. The name is a reference to the 1960s militant radical student group the Weather Underground, which also originated at the University of Michigan. [4]

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

University of Michigan Public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

The University of Michigan, often simply referred to as Michigan, is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The university is Michigan's oldest; it was founded in 1817 in Detroit, as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the territory became a state. The school was moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet spread out over a Central Campus and North Campus, two regional campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and a Center in Detroit. The university is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.

Jeff Masters, a doctoral candidate in meteorology at the University of Michigan working under the direction of Professor Perry Samson, wrote a menu-based Telnet interface in 1991 that displayed real-time weather information around the world. In 1993, they recruited Alan Steremberg and initiated a project to bring Internet weather into K-12 classrooms. WU president Alan Steremberg wrote "Blue Skies" for the project, a graphical Mac Gopher client, which won several awards. When the Mosaic Web browser appeared, this provided a natural transition from "Blue Skies" to the Web.

Doctor of Philosophy Postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities in many countries

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most English-speaking countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor or, in non-English-speaking countries, variants such as "Dr. phil." with their name, although the proper etiquette associated with this usage may also be subject to the professional ethics of their own scholarly field, culture, or society. Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "PhD", or "DPhil". It is, however, considered incorrect to use both the title and post-nominals at the same time.

Meteorology Interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere focusing on weather forecasting

Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw modest progress in the field after weather observation networks were formed across broad regions. Prior attempts at prediction of weather depended on historical data. It was not until after the elucidation of the laws of physics and more particularly, the development of the computer, allowing for the automated solution of a great many equations that model the weather, in the latter half of the 20th century that significant breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved. An important domain of weather forecasting is marine weather forecasting as it relates to maritime and coastal safety, in which weather effects also include atmospheric interactions with large bodies of water.

Telnet is a protocol used on the Internet or local area network to provide a bidirectional interactive text-oriented communication facility using a virtual terminal connection. User data is interspersed in-band with Telnet control information in an 8-bit byte oriented data connection over the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).

The original logo, used from 1997 through 2014 Weatherunderground logo.gif
The original logo, used from 1997 through 2014

In 1995 Weather Underground Inc. became a commercial entity separate from the university. [5] It has grown to provide weather for print sources, in addition to its online presence. In 2005, Weather Underground became the weather provider for the Associated Press; WU also provides weather reports for some newspapers (including the San Francisco Chronicle ) and the Google search engine.[ citation needed ] Alan Steremberg, Weather Underground's president, also worked on the early development of the Google search engine with Larry Page and Sergey Brin. [6]

Associated Press American multinational nonprofit news agency

The Associated Press (AP) is a U.S.-based not-for-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. Its members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters.

<i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> newspaper serving the San Francisco Bay area

The San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of northern California in the United States. It was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. The paper is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which bought it from the de Young family in 2000. It is the only major daily paper covering the city and county of San Francisco.

Google American multinational Internet and technology corporation

Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies, alongside Amazon, Apple and Facebook.

In October 2008, Jeff Masters reported that the site was No. 2 for Internet Weather in 2008. [7]

In February 2010, Weather Underground launched FullScreenWeather.com, a full screen weather Web tool with integrated mapping and mobile device use in mind.

On July 2, 2012, The Weather Channel announced that it would acquire Weather Underground, which would become operated as part of The Weather Channel Companies, LLC, which was later renamed "The Weather Company". The Weather Underground website continues to operate as a separate entity from The Weather Channel primary site, weather.com, with its existing staff retained. Third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb rate the site as the 117th and 98th most visited website in the United States respectively, as of July 2015. [8] [9] SimilarWeb rates the site as the second most visited weather website globally, attracting more than 47 million visitors per month. [9] [10] The Weather Company also uses the site's San Francisco headquarters as a regional office. [11] [12]

The Weather Channel American cable TV channel with forecasts and shows

The Weather Channel (TWC) is an American pay television channel owned by The Weather Group, LLC, a subsidiary of Entertainment Studios. The channel's headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia. Launched on May 2, 1982, the channel broadcasts weather forecasts and weather-related news and analysis, along with documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather. A sister network, Weatherscan, is a digital cable and satellite service that offers 24-hour automated local forecasts and radar imagery.

Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. However, Web analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website. Web analytics applications can also help companies measure the results of traditional print or broadcast advertising campaigns. It helps one to estimate how traffic to a website changes after the launch of a new advertising campaign. Web analytics provides information about the number of visitors to a website and the number of page views. It helps gauge traffic and popularity trends which is useful for market research.

Alexa Internet American analytics company providing web traffic data

Alexa Internet, Inc. is an American web traffic analysis company based in San Francisco. It is a subsidiary of Amazon.

The website popularity also helped launch a TV show hosted by meteorologist Mike Bettes, which airs on The Weather Channel from 5 to 8 pm ET (except during storm coverage; in which case the show is extended to 9 pm or 10 pm).

On October 28, 2015, Jeff Masters noted that IBM had officially announced an agreement to acquire The Weather Company business-to-business, mobile and cloud-based web properties, including Weather Underground, WSI, weather.com, and also the Weather Company brand. Meanwhile, the television service (The Weather Channel) remains a separate entity, later sold to Entertainment Studios in 2018. [13] The deal was finalized on January 29, 2016. [2]

Blogs

Web logs (blogs) are one of the main features in Weather Underground, allowing users of the site to create blogs about weather, everyday life and anything else. Jeff Masters started the first blog on April 14, 2005, [14] and he now posts blog entries nearly every day. Richard B. Rood has been writing blogs on climate change and societal response since 2007, with new entries on a weekly basis.

On October 14, 2016, the Wunderblog announced that it would be changing their name to Category 6, a name which was suggested by Jeff Masters. They decided on the name because it "alludes to our deep fascination with all types of weather and climate extremes, including the many important facets of our changing climate", and "will provide all the insight and expert analysis needed to put the extreme events of our evolving 21st-century climate into context." [15]

On April 3, 2017 Weather Underground ended all Member blogs, WUMail, SMS alerts, NOAA Weather Radio rebroadcast and Aviation. [16] As part of this transition, Category 6 will get a new look. All posts by Jeff Masters, Bob Henson and WU featured bloggers will move to Category 6. Users can no longer contact each other or have blogs.

Products

Weather Underground also uses observations from members with automated personal weather stations (PWS). [17] Weather Underground currently uses observations from over 250,000 personal weather stations worldwide. [18]

The Weather Underground's WunderMap overlays weather data from personal weather stations and official NWS stations on a Google Map base and provides many interactive and dynamically updated weather and environmental layers. [19] On November 15, 2017, users were notified by email that their worldwide, user-provided weather cameras would cease to be available on December 15, 2017. However, on December 11th, 2017 users received another email from Weather Underground announcing that they were reversing their position and would not be discontinuing the product based on significant user feedback. [20]

The service previously distributed Internet radio feeds of NOAA Weather Radio stations from across the country as provided by users and had a Weather Underground Braille Page.

The Associated Press uses Weather Underground to provide national weather summaries. [21]

Weather Underground has several Google Chrome extensions [22] and applications for iPhone, iPad and Android [23] including FullScreenWeather.com, a redirect to a full screen weather viewer tied into OpenStreetMap. There was an app developed for Roku devices which has been deleted. [24]

In February 2015, Weather Underground released an iOS app called Storm. [25] This app is universal, and can be used on both iPhone and iPad. Other apps by Weather Underground include WunderStation [26] for iPad and WunderMap [27] for iOS and Android. In 2017, Weather Underground removed support for "Storm," in favor of the "Storm Radar" app released by The Weather Channel Interactive in June 2017. [28]

In March 2017, Weather Underground stopped providing Doppler Weather radar Detected Storms on their NEXRAD page, and posted: "There are no Doppler radar detected storms for (any area) at this time." As well, lightning was never depicted on the radar screen, even when it was obviously occurring. When contacted[ when? ], IT customer service responded that the Doppler facility would be back soon, but the company was focusing on a smart phone app that gave the same Doppler Radar Detected Storms information. There was no mention of the lack of lightning data. However, weather radar data were still not available on the app as of May 19,2018.

The Doppler Radar Detected Storms information was presented in a very useful format, because each storm was given an identifier that could be looked up by scrolling down to a grid giving more specific details: i.e. speed, direction of travel, intensity, hail potential, build-up tops, lateral size, etc. Many service users, including Emergency Weather Management Units, felt that was one of the most important features of Weather Underground, because it could be used as an early warning system alert for people in the path of inclement weather, and potentially minimize property damage. Weather Underground seems to have slowly lost functionality and download speed; some say[ who? ] the service has become an afterthought since being purchased by The Weather Channel / IBM. Most loyal users, and customers contacted for this report, are hoping for a major format upgrade for PCs and laptops, to the previous format, and an increase in download speed.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

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