Your weather forecast just got more personal
TV meteorologists can predict weather in your city, and apps can predict it in your zip code. Now cell phone towers can predict it on your block.
Weather forecasts can be notoriously frustrating. A passing storm downtown may not impact you in the suburbs. Hype of freezing temperatures in a neighboring zip code may not mean mitten time in your neck of the woods. But what if you could pinpoint your weather prediction down to your block?
That's about to become a reality thanks to ClimaCell, a Boston-based startup that just launched this month. They use cell phone towers and microwave signals to create more accurate – and user-localized – forecasts. In addition to helping better predict your specific weather, it could also aid in providing more precise warnings for floods and other natural disasters.
ClimaCell can already predict street-specific forecasts up to three hours in advance, with minute-by-minute updates – which is a higher degree of granularity that most existing weather models. The company – launched by three Israeli entrepreneurs – is currently operating out of the Harvard Innovation Lab. The technology is based on the research of Hagit Messer, a professor at Tel Aviv University in Israel, who has been studying precision weather prediction for more than a decade. Tel Aviv University is also where scientists were studying how cell phone towers could better predict the emergence of hazardous fog.
"We are excited about bringing a whole new level of precision to weather data in the U.S. and Europe," said ClimaCell CEO and co-founder Shimon Elkabetz, a graduate of Israel's Ben-Gurion University and Harvard Business School. Beyond personal use, Elkabetz sees great potential in the commercial aspects of the tool. "Traditional weather data consumers like airlines and event venues will make better decisions that affect us all."
Rei Goffer, the company's chief security officer and co-founder, is a graduate of Ben Gurion University and a dual MBA/MPA candidate at MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy School of Government. "Most of today's weather observation instruments were introduced more than 50 years ago and since then, the technologies have experienced evolution in terms of improvements, but certainly no revolution," he said. "At ClimaCell, we are introducing an entirely new monitoring method that we believe will revolutionize weather forecasting."
The company is less than two weeks old and still needs time to catch on. In the meantime, we'll still have TV weather forecasters and their predictions. Which reminds us of this scene of Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day":
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