4 awesome innovations AccuWeather has introduced over the years
Much of the mission-critical work AccuWeather does happens behind the scenes, but some of these innovations are a part of people's daily lives and are seen on the AccuWeather app and website.
AccuWeather's incredible 60-year run has been punctuated by much more than its life-preserving forecasts -- the company has also been a leader in the weather community when it comes to innovation.
Fueled by founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers' relentless pursuit to save lives and protect property as well as provide useful forecasts for days on which the weather does not pose an existential threat, AcccuWeather has been on the cutting edge of helping everyday people think differently about the weather -- and understand the weather's impacts in unique ways.
Throughout the decades, AccuWeather forecasters have introduced new concepts, some of which have become part of the American vernacular after becoming staple features of the company's forecast products on the website and in its mobile app, in addition to being discussed in news stories and on the AccuWeather TV Network.
Here are four awesome new concepts that were introduced exclusively by AccuWeather.
For the days on which the thermometer reading doesn't match up with what conditions may "feel" like, AccuWeather's RealFeel® Temperature technology was created for showing its users how to prepare for spending time outdoors.
Rather than just displaying a number, the RealFeel® Temperature is a weather index that takes the impact of the sun, cloud cover, humidity, and more into consideration in addition to the recorded temperature.
This tool can be used to any extent from helping to determine what kind of weather to dress for to an older adult or someone with sensitive medical conditions gauging if they should minimize outdoor activity due to the heat or cold. This extends to parents as well who may wonder if it's too warm or cold to be outdoors with their infant for an extended period of time.
"So many times people tell me that they find that such a helpful tool because there's nothing else like it on the market," AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. "Nothing else takes all those many tens of factors into account in terms of what it really feels like to people outside ... it enables you to be better prepared not only when it's hot, but also when it's cold outside for what conditions you're going to face when you venture outside ... they're a unique way for them to get insights that, at the end of the day, is going to make them make decisions to stay healthier, stay safer, and to be more comfortable."
In September 2020, AccuWeather took the popular concept a step further by introducing the RealFeel Shade™ to its website and app to provide users with an even more precise sense of what conditions would feel like.
RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes
In 2019, Tropical Storm Imelda brought devastating rainfall to Houston, Texas, flooding communities that had seen intense damage from Hurricane Harvey only a few years prior. While its winds never strengthened to hurricane status, Imelda ranked as the seventh-wettest tropical cyclone to impact the U.S., the fifth-wettest to impact the contiguous U.S. and the fourth-wettest in the state of Texas, according to the National Weather Service. The greatest total of rainfall was 44.29 inches recorded 2 miles south-southwest of Fannett, Texas. Of the total, 31 inches fell within just 12 hours. Imelda racked up a cost of $5.7 billion in today's dollars.
Imelda was never rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale by the National Hurricane Center -- its maximum sustained winds peaked at 40 mph, just above tropical storm status and well below the 74 mph threshold of a Category 1 hurricane.
A car sinks in floodwaters deluging Winnie, Texas, on Thursday, September 19, 2019, as Imelda drenched some parts of southeastern Texas with nearly 3 feet of rain. (Twitter / Steve Campion)
Taking into account wind, flooding rainfall, storm surge and economic damage and loss, the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes (AccuWeather RI) offers a well-rounded look at the threat of tropical cyclones.
Using a scale using the 1 to 5 rating with the additional rating of "Less than 1" for tropical threats that don't rise to a Category 1 on the scale, the AccuWeather RI seeks to use these additional factors to better convey the threat of tropical weather events.
This is especially useful to convey the threat of tropical storms or lower-ranking hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson scale that may bring more of a threat via rainfall and storm surge or heading toward a densely populated area.
“This storm is a great example of the value of the AccuWeather RealImpact™Scale for Hurricanes that we invented,” AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers said in 2019 of Tropical Storm Imelda. “It would be easy to dismiss Imelda since it is not a hurricane but a tropical storm, but the rain and subsequent flooding is the main source of what will be substantial damage.”
Imelda was designated with an AccuWeather RealImpact of 3.
Hyperlocal and up-to-the-minute weather information with MinuteCast®
In 2015, AccuWeather introduced a new feature to its digital products that is just as useful in severe weather situations as it is when the weather is barely threatening, but still critical to people's daily lives and routines. The idea was to provide its unique hyper-local forecast and real-time weather conditions to people with the ease of a mouse click or the swipe of a mobile phone screen. And MinuteCast® was the innovation that made it possible.
The MinuteCast® forecast includes precipitation type and intensity, as well as start and end times for precipitation by the minute for the next four hours, localized to a person's exact street address or GPS location. And its user-friendly visual interface makes it easy for people to digest the weather info easily and instinctively.
"Clouds are continually moving, so when there is precipitation in one neighborhood there may not be in another part of the town," AccuWeather President Steve R. Smith said when MinuteCast® was launched. "That's why it's essential that MinuteCast® is localized for each user’s exact location, right down to their exact street address, not just their town or zip code. It is a tech must-have for holidays, weekends, and every day in between, to help people’s lives."
In 2020, AccuWeather updated MinuteCast® to include a host of new features, as well as launching the AccuWeather RealVue™ Satellite, winter preparation notifications and tools as well as indoor humidity readings.
AccuWeather SkyGuard technology
As a part of AccuWeather For Business, the company developed AccuWeather Skyguard technology,
For warning business clients about the immediate threat of tornadoes, the AccuWeather For Business arm of the company has innovated by creating its signature SkyGuard technology, which is able to precisely warn corporate partners that will be impacted by a tornado event.
Over the years, the forecasting department has meticulously improved SkyGuard in order to enhance public safety when facing an imminent threat from a tornado or other impacts associated with quick-hitting severe weather.
“Years ago," said Don Coash, who started his career as an AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist, "we would have a 5-mile radius for tornado warnings around client locations. Today, we’re pretty comfortable with a 3-mile radius around the client location."
Coash, who now is a senior executive on the AccuWeather For Business team said the meteorologists who work on SkyGuard are constantly iterating to make the service better and better. We’ve really tightened up that warning radius," he said of the latest improvements. "We continue to add warning criteria based on client requests, so we listen to the marketplace very closely and what the changing needs are."
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