Winning With Weather

(This is from a post in the local blog I write for the Rapid City Journal)

It will be great weather for pro-active construction companies to gain some ground before the weather pattern becomes more active later in the week. Having forecast weather for the construction of major highway projects and for the construction of some of the nation’s tallest buildings, I know all too well how difficult it can be to learn the fine art using the weather to an advantage when it comes to construction management. It is not easy to break the habit of allowing weather to rule a job site.

More than 20 years ago, the Federal Highway Administration hired the forecast company for whom I was the lead forecaster to forecast the start and stop times of rain and snow to within 45 minutes — for the first 24 to 36 hours of a forecast. That requirement was nearly unheard of at a time when we had very few computer models with which to work.

Precision weather forecasts are used for projects that are high risk with a potential to lose huge amounts of money, perhaps a million dollars in a day if the forecast is even slightly off. Talk about pressure:  sealing off concrete pours literally just minutes before rain starts — and starting pours just after rain ends, or scheduling the most out of a 5 hour break in the weather that is forecast 3 days from now.

When we forecast rain for these elite clients, it means there is a 100% chance. “A 20% chance” does not have a place in precision, site-specific weather forecasting. When a new roof is going on a large public library, a light shower is a disaster.

Most people don’t know that there is this whole other realm of weather forecasting because there is a relatively small number of businesses and individuals who want to use the weather to their financial advantage.

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