The weather forecasting methodology: How the MeteoGroup experts make your forecast
How It’s Made takes us under the hood of weather forecasting, revealing the key categories that create an accurate, reliable forecast. This reveals specifically how the experts at MeteoGroup make your forecast
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The same weather conditions can mean very different things to different companies in different industries. Whether you want to reduce costs and your environmental footprint in shipping, increase food production in greenhouses, or save lives by making winter roads safer, knowing what the weather will be, and, more importantly, how it will affect you, relies on the right information.
As a company that knows the weather, MeteoGroup does everything possible to deliver customers accurate weather forecasts. But achieving this goal relies on blending the right mix of data, expertise, and customer insight.
Getting the weather right isn’t easy or cheap. We all have weather apps on our phones. But this isn’t the same as accurate weather data that supports your specific needs. Accurate forecasts require substantial investment. You need to manage and process the data, bring together the right experts, and build the infrastructure to support all this work – not a straightforward task.
So how do the weather experts at MeteoGroup make your forecast? The answer lies in the weather forecasting methodology.
What is MeteoGroup’s weather forecasting methodology?
In brief, the weather forecasting methodology, How It’s Made, is a comprehensive approach to weather forecasting, which is made up of Five Categories. Each of the categories contribute to creating your weather forecast. The Five Categories are:
- Category One: Weather observations
- Category Two: Metocean models
- Category Three: Statistical post processing
- Category Four: Quality control and data management
- Category Five: Meteorological Expertise
The methodology is measured against the 16 forecasting value parameters. These value parameters are used by the weather experts, to ensure each and every step that they take adds value to the weather data. The success of the methodology comes down to measuring the result against these value parameters.
The Five Categories explained
Meteorologists employ thousands of weather stations and other sensors all around the world to find out exactly what’s going on. MeteoGroup uses observations from 20,000 weather stations worldwide, including its own network. As a result, customers benefit from access to the densest professional measurement network in Europe. The observation data is completed by radar, lightning, and satellite observations.
Investment level: Investment in observations can be low, as the data is either free or available at a relatively low cost, unless, like MeteoGroup, you are operating your own network of stations.
How the experts use this category: Weather observations are an essential part of monitoring the weather. Weather forecasts use this to identify situations where weather poses a risk. This includes severe weather warnings for the media, marginal weather conditions for offshore companies, and dangerous road conditions for winter road maintenance.
The experts use meteorological and oceanographic models to forecast weather conditions, waves, and currents in the coming hours, days, and weeks. Numerical models draw on physics and recent observations to predict the state of the atmosphere and oceans. MeteoGroup uses both model data from external sources, for example ECMWF and NCEP, and internal in-house models, including WRF, WAVEWATCHIII, SWAN.
Investment level: Some model data is free or available at a moderate cost. However, processing data from external models and developing in-house models requires significant investment and know-how.
How the experts use this category: The experts at MeteoGroup use Metocean models to enhance forecast models, for example by creating in-house models to help provide more accurate forecasts. They also use the data to create custom reports, like metocean reports.
In addition to numerical models, MeteoGroup’s experts use statistical methodologies. Such a combined forecasting system is the foundation for predicting future weather conditions and can be adapted to specific requirements. The core ones are: MOS; ScaDo; and road/route-based models. By combining several weather models and conducting statistical analyses on them, meteorologists can utilize the strengths of each and create an optimized forecasting system.
Investment level: Statistical post processing requires a relatively high investment in data science and meteorological expertise, as well as investment in technology for data processing.
How the experts use this category: Senior meteorologists at MeteoGroup use their expertise to adjust weather forecasts. These experienced experts adjust the MOS forecast to allow for the more extreme weather conditions. This adjusted version of the MOS forecast is called the MeteoBase. They also enhance forecast models, by developing and maintaining MeteoGroup’s forecasting systems, for example ScaDo that is applied in situations where standard weather model data can’t take into account the impact of local conditions.
All the different forms of weather data need to be structured and organized, so that it can be analyzed and transformed into valuable information. The Data Processing division is responsible for all of MeteoGroup’s incoming data. By ingesting, processing and storing weather data (in the cloud), the teams improve availability and delivery reliability. As data volumes grow and technology gets better every day, there should always be data specialists looking for new technological solutions to handle future data volumes in a fast and reliable way.
Alongside this, every element of the weather forecasting process is rigorously and objectively monitored to improve data accuracy and confidence levels. MeteoGroup uses verification methods recommended by the World Meteorology Organization.
Investment level: Both quality control and data management require relatively high-cost investment in meteorological researchers and experts, as well as supporting technology and infrastructure.
How the experts use this category: MeteoGroup’s experts secure data quality by verifying forecasts and maintaining data quality. They also visualize weather data, by preparing forecast data and observations for use in internal systems.
To truly “know” the weather, you need the right people to interpret, analyze, and advise customers. Alongside the data scientists working on the development of numerical and statistical model development, MeteoGroup has a team of 120 professional meteorologists who provide 24/7 monitoring of the actual weather, adapt forecasts where needed, and issue warnings. They also deliver consultancy and decision support for clients.
Investment level: Meteorological expertise requires the relatively high-cost investment as it requires both skilled forecaster meteorological researchers and data science expertise.
How the experts use this category: As well, as underpinning all the other categories, meteorological expertise help MeteoGroup ensure customers have the data they need to make informed decision. Each company is different, which means what they need from the weather is different. When required, professional services at MeteoGroup create custom solutions to meet specific customer needs, for example Dynamic Line Rating for TSOs in the energy industry. They also support other activities, like creating thought leadership articles to share their knowledge and expertise.
Forward-thinking companies are already leveraging weather data, delivered by the expert, as part of their decision-making toolkit. They leverage accurate forecasts and insight from expert meteorologists, to ensure that whatever the conditions, they are prepared.