We all watch the TV, read the newspaper, and check the smart phone for the weather forecast. This is mainly in the context of the micro-weather event. "What is the forecast for tomorrow?" drives our interest around micro-weather. But just as important, and maybe more so in the era of extreme weather, is the macro-weather event. Looking ahead one or two weeks - - can we predict hot and cold spells or extreme rainfall events in advance? What is the engineering and economic implications and impact if we can? It is one thing to get a forecast and throw the umbrella in the car - - it is another to either pre-position emergency response resources two weeks in advance or take positions in the financial markets to reduce risk. We seem to moving toward the development of tools and software that will help engineers deal with extreme weather.
A company called EarthRisk Technologies makes software that tries to predict the weather a week or two out (see the Innovator column - - Weather Seer in the September 26, 2011 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek). The founder of the firm is meteorologist Stephen Bennett. Bennett draws on 60-years of weather data to identify conditions that could lead to big temperature swings weeks later. EarthRisk has figured out how to look at historical weather data in a new way - - this could have important implications to engineering.