A Change In Our Forecasts and The Future of A Weather Moment

In 2010, I started A Weather Moment as a small Tumblr blog to share my thoughts on the weather. Up to that point, I had been a frequent commenter on the regionally historic Rob’s Blog and wanted a place to more formally share my thoughts on upcoming weather. That evolved fairly quickly over the following year or two as a more coherent vision emerged: providing a relatively short forecast that helps contextualize what’s going to happen. The team has grown and shrunk over the years, but we’ve been able to, with a consistency I’m rather proud of, post 3 forecasts a week for the better part of a decade.

Things have changed a lot over that decade, though. When AWM started, getting forecasts online was more difficult with limited options, the iPhone 4 had just released, and weather discussion was still a generally niche topic. In the years since, weather has become a big industry. Television shows such as Storm Chasers (which was nearing the end of its run in 2010) helped catapult severe summer weather into the minds of millions of people across North America. Sources for forecasts greatly increased as private sector investment increased, government meteorological services established their online presence, and weather model imagery became more accessible than ever. Smart phones have revolutionized the consumer technology field, and applications such as RadarScope (iOS, Android) have made potentially life-saving RADAR imagery instantly accessible no matter where you are.

All this to say: we don’t feel that our stale Day 3 forecast has a lot of value any more when you can easily see other forecasts updated numerous times in the interim. The details of the weather forecast is now constantly being fed to users 24 hours a day in more accessible forms than ever. That is a major change from when this site started and as one-person operation right now, it’s needed a lot of thought on how to leverage what A Weather Moment can do the best. Contributing to this is also that I was a single person in an apartment when this started, and now there’s a whole lot more life going on with kids growing up; time is limited and valuable!

After a lot of reflection, the time to focus on a few main areas A Weather Moment can really offer something unique and valuable has come. The most significant change will be the way we do forecasts. First, forecasts will now be done twice a week, most likely on Tuesdays and Fridays. They will no longer have specific sky/temperature forecasts for Winnipeg; instead, we’ll be focusing more on the general weather patterns/trends and speaking more generally of what to expect. Context is something that’s still missing from most forecasts, and I hope that we can convey more broadly what’s going to happen with the weather, and your forecast source of choice can fill in more specific details. This ensures that we don’t waste time on low-skill weather elements at longer time frames, while also allowing us to speak more broadly than just the Winnipeg area.

The side effect to this is that it should open up a bit more time for development in other areas of the site. A Weather Moment host numerous tools that can help you make your own weather-related decisions: our METAR Viewer to view weather observation reports from across North America, our Satellite Viewer which has recently been updated with what is likely the best GOES-16 satellite imagery that exists for Canada, our Model Viewer which allows quick viewing of a variety of weather model imagery, not to mention some Winnipeg climate data and relatively new support for Personal Weather Stations.

I have not had the time I’d like to properly support or develop most of these features. I have a lot of ideas for improvements to all of our tools, while some things like the RADAR Viewer have actually broken because there simply hasn’t been the time to properly keep them updated with changes to the data sources. My hope is to be able to spend more time supporting and improving our tools, eliminating a lot of technical debt, and making them more user-friendly and powerful. In the future, I hope that A Weather Moment can be a place that is used to empower users to make their own weather-related decisions as much as shares what we think is going to happen.

As we make this shift, our timing on posts may be a little erratic. Doing a forecast is a time consuming process, typically taking at least 1–2 hours. Shifting when we post also means shifting some [decade-long] established habits, but we’ll do our best to get back on a regular schedule.

Hopefully, these changes will let A Weather Moment play to its strengths and result in a website that provides helpful, contextual weather forecasts for the Winnipeg area and is home to compelling weather-related information and tools.

Brad

Brad lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two children and is the founder of A Weather Moment. He has loved weather from a very young age and has followed that passion through his life so far. He received a B.Sc. in Earth Sciences with Specialization in Atmospheric Sciences and is currently employed in the field of meteorology. You can find the author as @WeatherInThePeg on Twitter.