Weather forecasting set to undergo high-tech revolution

In an age of increasingly uncertain weather, a new Israeli meteorological innovation may become the most powerful way of predicting the weather yet.

Shipping companies, aviation specialists, sailors, farmers, wind turbine owners – — even the Boy Scouts – know that better weather prediction leads to a better ability to avoid risks to infrastructure, products and lives.

This is especially true when faced with today’s increasingly unpredictable weather.

Professionals with a lot at stake can’t rely on a weatherman’s forecast, which can change like the wind. Meteo-Logic, a new cutting-edge meteorological innovation from Israel, can deliver real-time updates on the weather in what some experts believe is the most powerful way of predicting the weather yet.

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“Generally there are two or three concepts you need to look at in order to accurately predict the weather,” Igal Zivoni, founder and CEO of Meteo-Logic, tells ISRAEL21c.

“The first-generation approach went like this: Indians in the desert looked up at the clouds and decided what will be. In the second generation of weather prediction, which is what we’ve had up until now, a special weather forecaster gets synoptic maps and models, and from these forms an evaluation of the weather. This is based on his experience and based on what he sees on the maps. This takes time, human resources and money for access to these global models,” Zivoni, an engineer by training, explains.

The third generation of weather prediction is the solution offered by Meteo-Logic. The system doesn’t involve human assumptions or predictions but takes three major factors into consideration: local weather points measured from a weather station, historical data from the same weather station (and others nearby if available) and real-time global weather GSS data.

Is this an el Niño year? Is an unusually strong hurricane building up in the tropics? Will there be a record-high temperature in August? Getting global GSS data from US-owned satellites can help weather predictions make more sense locally.

Meteo-Logic takes out the human equation in weather forecasting.

Meteo-Logic takes out the human equation in weather forecasting.

These three parameters enable Meteo-Logic to put more “logic” into powerful predictions for the weather. And its first target market is the renewable energy sector.

Will it huff or puff?

The company just launched a service in July where wind-farm owners can upload their weather station data to the Meteo-Logic system for more accurate field predictions of wind conditions by cross-referencing it with what’s happening real-time around the globe.

If wind-farm owners can predict just how much wind is expected in the next 24 hours, they can get the best price for their wind energy in the market, meet their agreements with utility companies and avoid fees if there is a difference between what was promised and what was delivered.

The Meteo-Logic software takes a range of weather parameters into consideration and make predictions six hours ahead for temperature, humidity, the intensity of the wind, wind direction and even the amount of precipitation that can be expected every hour at each spot where a weather station is set up.

“We believe that the technology can be particularly useful at alternative energy production facilities. For instance, wind power facilities can find it very useful to have precise information about wind patterns,” said Dr. Baruch Ziv, an expert Israeli meteorologist and consultant for Meteo-Logic. As far as he knows it’s the only system that takes local weather data and pairs it to regional and global forecasts.

If the company’s claims are true, it could be by far the most powerful high-tech “weathervane” to date. It is accessible for a fee to everyone from big weather TV stations to small sailing companies.

Putting forecasters out of work?

In Israel, Meteo-Logic is working with about 100 companies to test the predictive power of the new tool.

The technology can be used anywhere in the world where historical weather data is available, and where there are stations taking measurements. It could become very important in poorer countries that can’t afford to buy weather maps and have them analyzed by a weather expert.

If wind-farm owners can predict how much wind is expected in the next 24 hours, they can get the best price for their wind energy in the market. Photo by www.shutterstock.com

If wind-farm owners can predict how much wind is expected in the next 24 hours, they can get the best price for their wind energy in the market. Photo by www.shutterstock.com

But it could also help multibillion-dollar businesses avoid catastrophe. Consider, for example, vineyards in California where any signs of freezing or frost to the grape crop can be dealt with if the vintners are armed with advance notice.

“Weather is important to our lives and to our businesses,” says Zivoni.

Meteo-Logic was founded in 2011 and up until now is self-funded. The company of 10 is based out of Ramot Hashovim. Its cloud-based service will be marketed to three distinct areas: as a weather prediction tool for anyone who needs it; to convert historical weather data into a prediction service; and as an advanced tool for wind-farm owners.

Incidentally, other Israelis are taking a spin on predicting the weather, too, such as Prof. Colin Price from Tel Aviv University, who developed the prototype for a tool that can predict flash flooding based on the intensity of lightning strikes.

About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman is an award-winning environment news publisher who founded Green Prophet (www.greenprophet.com) to connect North Americans to issues that matter in the Middle East. She is the CEO of the Internet of Things startup flux, a company that is making social grow tools for urban farmers everywhere (www.fluxiot.com). Karin can be reached at karin (at) fluxiot.com.
  • George P. Burdell

    The article’s description of the “generations” of weather forecasting neglects one very important thing: computer models. Those models don’t just come out of the blue, or out of some genius’s fevered imagination. They describe the physics of what’s going on in the atmosphere, and the data described in the article as “second generation weather forecasting” serve as “boundary conditions” for the model. The better the data going in, the better the model’s forecast. Without going too far into the technical details (people who have studied partial differential equations will know what I’m talking about), the observations are made at discrete points (weather stations), not everywhere. This is a large part of the reason for weather forecasting’s inaccuracy. This is not difficult to understand. If I know what the weather is now, I can predict the weather a second from now with high accuracy. I 12-hour forecast is less accurate; a 5-day forecast is still less accurate.