Weather Tech is Thriving

Most don’t know that I’m a weather nerd (now you do), in fact I used to run a mildly successful severe weather site and still run the Twitter account @cardiffstorm. Anyway, when I saw an article on a company using cellular comms to provide high resolution weather forecasts I decided to take a deeper dive in to ‘Weather Tech’ (yes, that’s how I use some of my spare time).

The company I refer to is ClimaCell and it recently raised $15 million in Series A funding. They’re a perfect example of the old ‘Software’s eating the world’. ClimaCell provide ‘hyper-local weather prediction’ primarily by looking at the interfered RF of cellular networks and comparing it to the known signal of different weather types. So, essentially they know what the RF signature is like on a clear day and they know what it’s like when it’s raining at certain rates. Then by using the real-time data they get from the cellular networks they can infer the current conditions on a street-by-street basis. They also combine this data with secondary and tertiary sources such as the more traditional weather radars and weather stations. This allows them to provide these hyper local nowcasts and forecasts just by using existing data and some clever analysis. They claim an accuracy of 90% vs 50% just using radar. These very local nowcast and forecasts can be very valuable to industries such as sports, agriculture, construction and aviation.

Another company that sparked my interest is Spire. Spire has a constellation of 100s of small satellites that it uses to provide weather data among other things such as maritime tracking. It does this in a not too dissimilar way to ClimaCell in that it uses GPS Radio Occulation to gain an understanding of the temperature, pressure, moisture levels etc in the atmosphere by seeing how the RF signals change as they pass through. Spire recently raised $70 million in Series C funding. Back in late 2016 Spire were one of two companies awarded the first ever commercial satellite contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who are probably the worlds biggest meteorological organisation.

The final one that I noticed is a young company called Understory. They have developed a network of weather stations across metropolitan areas in the US such as Kansas and Dallas where severe weather is particularly prevalent. Their weather stations measure a range of factors such as hail intensity, size and angle, wind speed and direction, rainfall, dew point, pressure, among others. They do this every second and upload all the data to Understory via a cellular connection. Their network produces over 50,000 data points every second. According to the company they have one station for every 1 km square. Understory make their money primarily selling this hyperlocal on-the-ground data to insurance companies who can ensure claims are true and accurate and provide proactive communications to customers. However, this data is also very valuable to other industries such as retail and agriculture. Understory last raised $7.5 million in Series A funding in 2016 plus an undisclosed investment in late 2017.

It’s great to see the thing that us Brits talk about the most being given great attention by the startup community and the investors that power them.