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Weather Underground (weather service)

Weather Underground is a commercial weather service providing real-time weather information over the Internet. Weather Underground provides weather reports for most major cities across the world on its Web site, as well as local weather reports for newspapers and third-party sites. Its information comes from the National Weather Service (NWS), and over 250,000 personal weather stations (PWS). The site is available in many languages, and customers can access an ad-free version of the site with additional features for an annual fee. Weather Underground is owned by The Weather Company, a subsidiary of IBM.[2]

The Weather Underground, Inc.
Subsidiary
Founded1995; 24 years ago (1995)
FounderJeff Masters
Headquarters,
ParentThe Weather Company (IBM)[1]
Websitewww.wunderground.com

HistoryEdit

The company is based in San Francisco, California and was founded in 1995 as an offshoot of the University of Michigan Internet weather database. The name is a reference to the 1960s militant radical student group the Weather Underground, which also originated at the University of Michigan.[3]

Jeff Masters, a doctoral candidate in meteorology at the University of Michigan working under the direction of Professor Perry Samson, wrote a menu-based Telnet interface in 1991 that displayed real-time weather information around the world. In 1993, they recruited Alan Steremberg and initiated a project to bring Internet weather into K–12 classrooms. Weather Underground president Alan Steremberg wrote "Blue Skies" for the project, a graphical Mac Gopher client, which won several awards. When the Mosaic Web browser appeared, this provided a natural transition from "Blue Skies" to the Web.

 
The original logo, used from 1997 through 2014

In 1995 Weather Underground Inc. became a commercial entity separate from the university.[4] It has grown to provide weather for print sources, in addition to its online presence. In 2005, Weather Underground became the weather provider for the Associated Press; Weather Underground also provides weather reports for some newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle and the Google search engine.[citation needed] Steremberg also worked on the early development of the Google search engine with Larry Page and Sergey Brin.[5]

In October 2008, Jeff Masters reported that the site was No. 2 for Internet weather information in 2008.[6]

In February 2010, Weather Underground launched FullScreenWeather.com, a full screen weather Web tool with integrated mapping and mobile device use in mind.

On July 2, 2012, The Weather Channel announced that it would acquire Weather Underground, which would become operated as part of The Weather Channel Companies, LLC, which was later renamed "The Weather Company". The Weather Underground Web site continues to operate as a separate entity from The Weather Channel primary site, weather.com, with its existing staff retained. Third-party Web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb rate the site as the 117th and 98th most-visited site in the United States, respectively, as of July 2015.[7][8] SimilarWeb rates the site as the second most visited weather website globally, attracting more than 47 million visitors per month.[8][9] The Weather Company also uses the site's San Francisco headquarters as a regional office.[10][11]

The site popularity also helped launch a television show hosted by meteorologist Mike Bettes, which airs on The Weather Channel from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET, except during storm coverage; in which case the show is extended to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.

On October 28, 2015, Jeff Masters noted that IBM had officially announced an agreement to acquire The Weather Company business-to-business, mobile and cloud-based Web properties, including Weather Underground, WSI, weather.com, and also the Weather Company brand. The Weather Channel television service remained a separate entity, later sold to Entertainment Studios in 2018.[12] The deal was finalized on January 29, 2016.[1]

On October 3, 2019, Jeff Masters announced that he will be leaving Weather Underground.[13]

BlogsEdit

Web logs (blogs) was one of the main features in Weather Underground, allowing users of the site to create blogs about weather, everyday life and anything else. Jeff Masters started the first blog on April 14, 2005,[14] and he posts blog entries nearly every day. From 2007 through early 2017 Richard B. Rood wrote blogs on climate change and societal response, with new entries on a weekly basis.

On October 14, 2016, the Wunderblog announced that it would be changing their name to Category 6, a name suggested by Jeff Masters. They decided on the name, because it "alludes to our deep fascination with all types of weather and climate extremes, including the many important facets of our changing climate", and "will provide all the insight and expert analysis needed to put the extreme events of our evolving 21st-century climate into context."[15]

On April 3, 2017 Weather Underground ended all Member blogs, WUMail, SMS alerts, NOAA Weather Radio rebroadcast and Aviation.[16] As part of this transition, Category 6 will get a new look. All posts by Jeff Masters, Bob Henson and Weather Underground featured bloggers were moved to Category 6. Users can no longer contact each other or have blogs, nor are they permitted to question or criticize the opinions of Masters and Henson in the comment section.

ServicesEdit

Weather Underground also uses observations from members with automated personal weather stations (PWS).[17] Weather Underground uses observations from over 250,000 personal weather stations worldwide.[18]

The Weather Underground's WunderMap overlays weather data from personal weather stations and official NWS stations on a Google Map base and provides many interactive and dynamically updated weather and environmental layers.[19] On November 15, 2017, users were notified by email that their worldwide, user-provided weather cameras would cease to be available on December 15, 2017. However, on December 11, 2017 users received another email from Weather Underground announcing that they were reversing their position and would not be discontinuing the service based on significant user feedback.[20]

The service previously distributed Internet radio feeds of NOAA Weather Radio stations from across the country, as provided by users, and had a Weather Underground Braille Page.

The Associated Press uses Weather Underground to provide national weather summaries.[21]

Weather Underground has several Google Chrome extensions[22] and applications for iPhone, iPad and Android[23] including FullScreenWeather.com, a redirect to a full screen weather viewer tied into OpenStreetMap. There was an app developed for Roku devices, which has been deleted.[24]

In February 2015, Weather Underground released an iOS app called Storm.[25] This app is universal, and can be used on both iPhone and iPad. Other apps by Weather Underground include WunderStation[26] for iPad and WunderMap[27] for iOS and Android. In 2017, Weather Underground removed support for "Storm," in favor of the "Storm Radar" app released by The Weather Channel Interactive in June 2017.[28]

In March 2017, Weather Underground stopped providing Doppler Weather radar Detected Storms on their NEXRAD page, and posted: "There are no Doppler radar detected storms for (any area) at this time." As well, lightning was never depicted on the radar screen, even when it was obviously occurring. When contacted,[when?] IT customer service responded that the Doppler facility would be back soon, but the company was focusing on a smart phone app that gave the same Doppler Radar Detected Storms information. There was no mention of the lack of lightning data. However, weather radar data were still not available on the app as of May 19, 2018.

The Doppler Radar Detected Storms information was presented in a very useful format, because each storm was given an identifier that could be looked up by scrolling down to a grid giving more specific details, i.e., speed, direction of travel, intensity, hail potential, build-up tops, lateral size, etc. Many service users, including Emergency Weather Management Units, felt that was one of the most important features of Weather Underground, because it could be used as an early warning system alert for people in the path of inclement weather, and potentially minimize property damage.

Since the early 2010s the Weather Underground Web site has progressively lost functionality and download speed while page rendering times due to code bloat have grown to the point of making it unusable. Some say[who?] the service has become an afterthought since being purchased by The Weather Channel/IBM. Most loyal users, and customers contacted for this report, are hoping for a major format upgrade for PCs and laptops, to the previous format, and an increase in download speed.[citation needed]

On December 31, 2018, Weather Underground ceased offering its popular application programming interface (API) for weather data, further reducing the breadth of its services.[29]

On September 10, 2019, Weather Underground announced the discontinuation of its popular Email Forecast Program as of October 1, 2019, continuing the reduction in services noted above. [30]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "IBM Finalizes Deal for Weather Channel Product and Tech Business". TheWrap. January 29, 2016.
  2. ^ Masters, Jeff (28 October 2015). "Weather Underground Bought by IBM". Weather Underground. SBM. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ Schwartz, John; Stelter, Brian (July 3, 2012). "Fans Howl After Weather Site Buys Out Rival". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Weather Underground, Inc. The First Internet Weather Service. Retrieved on 2008-04-05.
  5. ^ https://www.stevenlevy.com/index.php/07/03/notes-from-weather-underground-a-paleo-google-enterprise-gets-bought
  6. ^ Jeff Master's WunderBlog, 10-27-2008 Heavy Internet Weather Retrieved on 2008-10-27.
  7. ^ "wunderground.com Site Overview". Alexa. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Wunderground.com Analytics". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Top 50 sites in the world for News And Media > Weather". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  10. ^ Weather Channel buys Weather Underground, brand stays. PaidContent.org. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  11. ^ Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog: Wunderground.com sold to The Weather Channel Companies, Weather Underground, July 2, 2012.
  12. ^ "Weather Underground Bought by IBM, by Dr. Jeff Masters, October 28, 2015".
  13. ^ https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Jeff-Masters-Leaving-Weather-Underground-November?cm_ven=cat6-widget
  14. ^ Weather Underground, Inc. Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog. Retrieved on 2008-04-05.
  15. ^ "Our New Name: Category 6™". Weather Underground. October 14, 2016. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  16. ^ "WU feature and product updates". March 2, 2017.
  17. ^ Weather Underground, Inc. Personal Weather Station. Retrieved on 2008-04-05.
  18. ^ Weather Underground, Inc. Personal Weather Station Network. Retrieved on 2017-02-20
  19. ^ Weather Underground, Inc. WunderMap Retrieved on 2015-02-01.
  20. ^ "Wunderground.com". Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  21. ^ WEATHER UNDERGROUND For The Associated Press. Weather Search Retrieved on 2009-10-28.
  22. ^ "Weather Underground - Chrome Web Store". Chrome.google.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  23. ^ "Weather Underground - Android Apps on Google Play". Play.google.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  24. ^ "Weather Underground for Roku". Wunderground.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  25. ^ "Storm by Weather Underground | Weather Underground". Wunderground.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  26. ^ "WunderStation by Weather Underground | Weather Underground". Wunderground.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  27. ^ "WunderMap® by Weather Underground". Wunderground.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  28. ^ "Storm Radar FAQ". Wunderground.com. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  29. ^ "End of Services for the Weather Underground API". Weatherunderground.com. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  30. ^ "End of Services for the Weather Underground Email Forecasts". weatherunderground.com. Retrieved 2019-09-30.

External linksEdit