The Complete Guide to Weather Data

What is weather data?

Weather data is information that tracks and predicts weather conditions and patterns. Weather data tells a story about the state of the atmosphere in a particular location over a specific period of time by measuring several different parameters, including temperature, air quality, wind speed, and precipitation level.

Types of weather data

Weather data can cover information about large geographical areas, small geographical areas, the past, the future, the present, and the earth as a whole. The most common weather data subcategories are:

  • Local weather data vs global weather data

Local weather data is information about weather conditions in a specific localized area, such as a county or city. When you check your city’s daily forecast before heading out the door each morning, you are looking at local weather data. Global weather data, on the other hand, covers weather and climate patterns for the entire planet. Some examples of this are tracking global temperature or measuring wind patterns between continents.

  • Real-time weather data vs historical weather data

Real-time weather data gives you the most up-to-date information on weather conditions as they are occuring. This is how you can keep track of any changes in the weather day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. Historical weather data takes you into the past. It provides intelligence on weather patterns and conditions from previous days, months, years, and even decades.

How is weather data collected and measured?

Weather data is generally collected by meteorologists who are experts at measuring, analyzing, and predicting weather conditions and patterns. The data being collected by modern cutting-edge equipment such as satellite signals, airport observation stations, drone technology, and mapping devices has allowed for the collection of amazingly accurate and current weather data.

Most weather data is collected by using thermometers to measure temperature, barometers to measure air pressure, radar to measure rain or snow locations and movements, wind vanes to measure wind directions, anemometers to measure wind speed, transmissometers to measure atmospheric visibility, and hygrometers to measure humidity. Weather satellites are also used frequently to track everything from snow cover to smog levels to ocean tidal patterns. Radiosondes, which are balloons that measure atmospheric characteristics as they move through the air and communicate that data via radio, can measure temperature, pressure, and humidity, and wind speed and direction.

How can organizations use weather data?

Many different industries use weather data for a range of business applications. Departments ranging from sales to marketing to legal operations can use weather data to make informed decisions about investment forecasting, energy load planning, supply chain management, business intelligence applications, freight distribution needs, and several other aspects of business affected by the weather. A few examples of business uses for weather data are:

  • Weather Data & Logistics

Weather data is the golden ticket when it comes to staying on schedule with travel and deliveries. Organizations can make informed logistics decisions and minimize risk by using real-time weather data to determine which routes will have the most favorable weather conditions and which ones pose more of a risk. Companies can plan safe and efficient freight or haulage delivery routes months (or even years) in advance by using accurate forecasting from collected weather data.

Being able to determine and plan weather-friendly routes ahead of time helps companies avoid the cost and headache of cancellations or delays due to rain, sleet, snow, etc. When your business plans for the best routes and consistently completes deliveries on time without being slowed down or re-routed, it reflects to customers and business partners that your organization is dependable.

  • Weather Data & Marketing

Using weather data to make predictions about buyer behavior is one way to avoid sinking costs into unproductive campaigns and also tailor your products and services to the current experience of your audience. Staying informed on the weather and factoring it into marketing initiatives can only yield better strategies and results when it comes to reaching and engaging with your targeted audience.

For instance, if you’re a coat manufacturer, your product generally brings in the most revenue when the weather is cold or snowy, so you would want to run seasonal marketing and advertising campaigns in the winter months of the year to maximize your ROI. To use another example, if you operate a water park that is open during the summer months, adverse weather conditions could impact your day-to-day sales. No one wants to go to the water park on a rainy or gloomy day. Weather-triggered advertising could be used to track day-to-day weather data and allow marketers to only pay for ad space when the weather is sunny and warm enough to attract customers.

  • Weather Data & Travel

Several industries, particularly that involve tourism or travel, use weather data to make predictions about consumer demand. Using weather data, it’s possible to accurately predict when demand amongst travellers will spike or drop in specific locations. This allows many businesses to make smarter decisions when it comes to marketing and operational strategies.

For example, hotels will allocate their resources more effectively if they can predict when they will have more visitors. A hotel in Florida won’t have as many customers during the height of a bad hurricane season just like a hotel in Arizona won’t have as many visitors during heat waves.

Industries can also use this information to schedule company travel more effectively for conferences, meetings, and other business events by identifying and avoiding periods of risky or undesirable weather conditions.

Buying weather data

There are several different attributes of weather data that are commonly collected and are purchasable. Generally, data providers will provide data points that include localized or global information on: temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and cloud coverage. You can also find data on things like pollen concentration in the air, solar radiation, and natural disasters.

Data collaboration platforms like Narrative make it easy to discover and buy weather data. Narrative’s data collaboration platform provides buyers with a range of data types, including weather and climate data, that allows businesses to make better predictions about everything from investment management to event planning.

Selling weather data

If your organization has valuable and accurate weather data, you could be generating an entirely new stream of revenue for your company by monetizing that data. Narrative’s Data Shops enables businesses to quickly and easily launch an ecommerce data business without spending significant time and resources. Your weather data could be ingested, packaged, and accessible through a custom ecommerce storefront in just a few days, even if you have little to no technical expertise.

The AWIS Weather Services Data Shop, an ecommerce data shop created by AWIS and powered by Narrative, is one example of a weather data shop on the platform that is filled with over 30,000 real weather observations from all over the world. After using Data Shop’s intuitive tools and workflows to stand up their data business, AWIS's VP of Advanced Technology, Tim Risner, described Narrative's data commerce platform as a “unique” platform that is able to “give AWIS Weather Services the competitive edge we need to provide quality weather observations to those industries that need real world weather data."

Discover and buy weather data products on the Narrative Data Marketplace or learn more about how Narrative makes selling data sources fast and easy**.**

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