How important is the data these teams collect in improving the science of weather forecasting?
Research storm chasers can gather a lot of important data that can give them clues about how and when tornadoes might form. Having this type of data can increase the lead time for warning the public of impending danger. Storm chasers who do chasing more for the thrill can also supply a service. The information about the strength, speed and direction of a tornado that they relay back to NWS forecasters and TV stations can help save many lives as well.
Are there any products or services WeatherBug offers for website owners or online writers to put to use?
I am glad you asked that question! This is a very important part of what we have been doing the past few years, is developing API’s and programming tools so that web masters and even just interested individuals can easily access data from the WeatherBug network and put it in their own applications. You can check it out here at WeatherBug® API home. We also have simple widgets you can add to your web site here: Web Widgets from WeatherBug.com
Here are a couple of great examples of how people have used the WeatherBug API.
One guy we both know and love, Chris Pirillo, uses software called CamTwist to display chat room conversations and sponsors on his live ustream broadcasts. Lately, you may have noticed that he now has the current temperature on the upper left part of his screen which is the temperature from where Chris is broadcasting. The developer of CamTwist just tied into our API to be able to provide that functionality in his program.
Another great example is a company called LabPixies, located in Isreal. They create all sorts of widgets for iGoogle and used our API to create a weather widget. LabPixies – Live Weather- Coolest Gadgets On The Web They are one of the most popular weather widgets on the iGoogle site. ( Weather Forecasts Google gadgets ) Almost a million people have their widget installed now!
We hope to expand the capabilities and promotion of our API this coming year to not only include capabilities for accessing data from us, but also sending information to WeatherBug, like backyard weather conditions, or photos and personal observations. I think this part of our business is really exciting. We already have thousands of developers signed up.
What types of programs does WeatherBug offer educators to teach students about weather related subjects?
Education has been a focus of WeatherBug from the beginning of the company. We now have over 8,000 schools who are part of our program and one of the key features for them is our online curriculum and lesson plan tools. When students log in, they have access to tons of weather tools and flash based lessons that teach them anything from what temperature is and how it is measured to hurricanes and tornadoes and how they form. Our very own meteorologist creates many educational videos that the kids can watch and they are also part of the Farmer’s Almanac TV.
One of my favorite tools that the students can use is called the WeatherBug DataCam. It allows students to create graphs of the past days temperature changes or pressure changes and as they move their cursor along the graph, they can see images captured from a weather camera at their school so they can tie what it looked like outside with what the weather data shows. For example, in the graph below, the students can see that at the time that the temperature and the dew point became the same, that this is the time when it started snowing. They can even see that the temperature was actually above freezing right before it started snowing and that the precipitation coming in actually caused the temperature to drop a little big. Just awesome stuff! Here is a link to see more about the WeatherBug Achieve program: