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Internet Helps Weather Get More Local (I).


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(ARA) - As with politics, all weather is local. Even over a single metro area, weather can be drastically different. One person's thunderstorm is another's sunny day.

Historically, weather forecasting technology has simply not been precise enough to differentiate its forecasts between local areas. It's only been able to predict the weather over broad swathes of territory encompassing hundreds of square miles.

That's all changing, thanks to advanced computer power and the advent of the Internet.

The increase in computing power over the past decade, coupled with a decline in the cost for this power, has greatly improved weather forecasters' abilities. Complex forecasting models that would've taken a day to process in years past can now be done in hours. This speed-up in computing power has made possible forecasts that are not only more precise, but more personalized.

The Internet has also contributed mightily to this local focus. Instead of relying on a TV forecast that must be tailored to an entire viewing area, today's Web users can visit several sites where they can receive a forecast tailored to their own neighborhood., the Internet arm of The Weather Channel, has pioneered a phenomenon called "ZIP-code forecasts," in which users enter a ZIP code to receive a more precise forecast. Each month, more than 14 million unique users to are treated to forecasts loosely based on their ZIP code.

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