NowCast, near-term weather forecasting, is critical for businesses whose daily operations are impacted by weather (about one third of the global economy). The difference between “chance of rain this afternoon in Chicago” and knowing exactly when and where it will rain, down to the minute, street-by-street level, is the difference between information that companies can use to make informed decisions – about operations, safety and, ultimately, customer satisfaction – and guesstimating.
NowCast 1.3, the engine behind Tomorrow.io’s hyper-accurate, short-term forecasts, is now live! NowCast takes our unique data and analyzes it using Tomorrow.io’s proprietary models. What’s new with NowCast 1.3? Funny you should ask! There are a lot of improvements in this version, but these two are key:
- Higher refresh rate of data and forecasts, so that you see smaller changes in the forecast, more often
- Great improvement in detail in the short-term forecasts
Here’s a little more detail…
Increased Refresh Rate
We use data from a wide range of sources, from microwave links to ground observations, satellite data, and more.
Whenever we get new data, whether from ground observations or from more innovative sources, we use it to predict changes in the forecast. If we learn that it’s actively snowing somewhere, for example, but the previous forecast didn’t have that information, we can use the new information to predict whether it will keep snowing, move to another location, dwindle, or pick up steam, based on lots of other information and prediction algorithms.
What does this mean for you? First, better forecasts, because the model has the most up-to-date data. Second, you will see smaller, more frequent forecast updates.
Different data sources give us updates at different times and at different intervals. Before, it would take us a few minutes to get new information from all of our sources and put it through our modeling software to get the new forecast. With this update, we’re down to a much faster turnaround time – our model produces an updated forecast quicker than ever! That means you see less abrupt changes when the forecast is updated. The changes are more frequent, and result in less obvious changes.
It will always take software time to process large amounts of data. That’s one of the challenges of working with large data sets that feed into complex algorithms that provide meaningful outputs (in this case, the forecast). However, now and going forward we want to give you a smooth experience with the most recent information possible.
The second significant improvement we made is in the spatial detail we provide for short-term forecasts. In both images, below, you see weather moving across the Northeast of the U.S. But in the second image, of NowCast 1.3, storm clouds have more detail. See the top left area in particular, where you can see that more rain is expected where there are small clouds along the edges of storms. That fine level of detail tells you more precisely whether a small region will be hit by no rain, some rain, or a lot of rain. In other words, the greater detail allows us to give you the best hyper-local weather predictions.
Before, version 1.1:
After, version 1.3:
Best of all, you don’t need to do anything to get these improvements, if you’re a Tomorrow.io customer. They’re already being integrated into our products and will be delivered to you seamlessly.