Customized weather services: It never rains to everyone’s liking.

Gansu, on the border with Mongolia, is one of the most economically depressed provinces in China. In an effort to attract visitors, the local government has been organizing a 100 km mountain ultramarathon in the spectacular Yellow River Stone Forest Park for the past 4 years.

However, the 2021 edition, held on May 22nd, will go down in history as one of the most tragic. The reason being the hypothermia-related deaths of 21 participants (out of a total of 172) due to a sudden weather change.

Although worsening weather conditions had been forecasted, the intensity took the race organizers by surprise. In fact, in some cases, it was the athletes themselves who alerted to the critical situation, as the race organizers had not hired any specialized company for personalized weather services nor conducted a risk analysis.

Thus, what was supposed to be a festive day turned into a nightmare at an altitude of 2,000 meters, with hail, freezing rain, and hurricane-force winds.

¿What are personalized meteorological services?

Meteorological and climate services refer to past, present, and future weather and climate information that facilitates decision-making (1).

In the provision of these services, several key agents can be distinguished (2):

  • National meteorological services, responsible for providing general information and issuing alerts for adverse weather events. Their work is made possible through an infrastructure of observation systems, data processing, and prediction systems. It is also reinforced through data exchange with other countries and the promotion of research.
  • Academic sector, responsible for advancing scientific knowledge and education.
  • Private sector, responsible for creating products and services tailored to the needs of a company or client. They also collaborate with national services in communicating forecasts and warnings that may affect public safety, establishing co-creation and collaboration relationships.

Therefore, we can conclude that personalized meteorological services are those that provide predictions and weather information to clients with specific needs. To offer services with high added value, they combine public data such as those generated by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) with their own high-resolution models, information from other global organizations, and private networks.

What advantages do these private services offer?

The extreme example from China with which we opened this article highlights the usefulness of these types of services. If the race organizers had sought the assistance of a specialized company, the outcome would have likely been different.

But sports are not the only reason to rely on this detailed information. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of global economic activity is affected by the weather (1). Jon Tarleton, a specialist in strategic marketing, highlights the following benefits for the economy of personalized meteorological services:

  • Private weather information providers are companies that deal with terms like “benefits” or “losses.” The concept of “efficiency” is, therefore, one of the cornerstones of their business philosophy.
  • The value of the information provided (curated by professionals, as Jim Foerster reminds us in Forbes). This “twist” allows going one step further. It can materialize, for example, in a personalized forecast based on the impact of a weather event for a specific activity.
  • The customization of meteorological variables, including only relevant or highly impactful information.
  • The local nature of the information. As explained in the article on nowcasting, a network of automatic weather stations can provide highly useful localized information.
  • The implicit responsibility in providing the service, which, in a way, determines its quality. If the provided information leads to losses, you can always terminate the contract.

Personalized weather information, more than just weather forecasts

At this point, and convinced that you are starting to glimpse the benefits of hiring Arantec’s services, let’s clarify an important aspect: personalized meteorology goes beyond a bulletin that simply says “Tomorrow, sunny.”

In reality, it has given rise to a rich universe of disciplines and activities, each one more specialized than the last.

The private meteorology sector began to establish itself as an economic activity after the end of World War II. In recent years, it has grown thanks to external factors such as (3):

  • The economy, which analyzes the cost/benefit dichotomy.
  • Technology, which has experienced unprecedented advancements and whose prospects generate great anticipation (artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data, etc.).
  • The defense and emergency sector, which requires updated and accessible weather data.
  • Legislation, with the approval of increasingly restrictive laws regarding air quality, for example, an aspect in which meteorology plays a fundamental role.

Thus, under the influence of these driving forces, a wide range of professional activities has emerged, covering diverse fields such as:

  • Instrumentation (our Smarty Meteo weather stations would be a clear example of this aspect).
  • Data providers and meteorological graphics.
  • Weather forecasting.
  • Meteorological support for
  • Sectors such as renewable energy or aviation.
  • Meteorological consulting.
  • Forensic meteorology.
  • Companies specializing in the prediction of adverse phenomena such as lightning or climate modification.
  • Environmental consulting (air quality, modeling, monitoring with solutions like our Smarty Air, etc.).
  • Software developers and system integrators.
  • Meteorological communicators.

Sectors and activities that can benefit from personalized meteorological services

It is evident that weather conditions influence economic activities. An ice cream stand will sell more when it’s hot, and a fleet of trucks will face more difficulties in distributing goods when it snows. Therefore, any productive sector can benefit from personalized meteorological services. However, let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Agriculture, protecting the world’s granaries

Few sectors depend on climatology as much as agriculture. But on what decisions do meteorological variables have the most influence? O’Grady, Langton, Salinari, Daly, and O’Hare (4) identify the following:

  • Operational decisions, which include decisions related to the cultivation itself, such as the application of fertilizers or phytosanitary products. For example, when it comes to fumigation, it is better to carry it out without wind.
  • Tactical decisions, encompassing determinations made once during the crop season. For example, the choice of seeds.
  • Strategic decisions, which affect the agricultural enterprise as a whole, such as crop rotation.
  • Structural decisions, which refer to decisions related to agricultural infrastructure.

Each of these categories has its requirements in terms of meteorological information (5). In some cases, such as purchasing seeds, it will be necessary to know the prevailing climate in the area to choose the variety that best suits, which requires using historical data. In the case of fertilizer operations, on the other hand, having a short or medium-term weather forecast may be more relevant.

To provide a practical example that illustrates these benefits, imagine a crop where the information from one or several automatic weather stations is combined with a soil moisture monitoring system. The information obtained in this way would allow for optimizing irrigation and water conservation.

Events, leisure, and tourism: Preventing problems

Any type of event that gathers more or fewer people can be disrupted by the weather, from a football match to an outdoor concert.

For these types of celebrations, immediate or short-term forecasts (6) are particularly useful. However, indicating where and when a storm may occur, for example, is not so easy. It is necessary to observe how atmospheric systems evolve and know how to interpret their dynamics. A recommended combination would be satellite and radar information along with strategically placed automated weather stations.

This recommendation also applies to other leisure or tourism activities, especially if they take place outdoors or in areas prone to abrupt weather changes, such as mountain areas.

The offering of a hotel resort or an agrotourism business may gain value if they provide their clients with real-time local weather information, for example.

Marketing, when weather defines your behavior

You may not have realized it, but your purchasing decisions vary depending on the weather. In fact, we are willing to pay more for the same product when the weather is sunny (7).

Aware of this aspect of human behavior, companies are increasingly taking meteorological variables into account when designing their marketing campaigns.

An example is the campaign developed by Stella Artois in the UK in 2013. After analyzing 12 years of data, they discovered that real-time weather had a greater impact on cider sales than seasons. So, they designed a campaign using digital screens that were activated when the temperature was 2 degrees higher than usual. This data was corroborated with information from the UK’s National Meteorological Service (Met Office). The results were:

  • A 65.6% increase in year-on-year sales during the campaign period.
  • Cost efficiency of up to 50% since it was an initiative that displayed ads based on per-minute pricing.
  • A significant impact on social media, resulting in an income of £15,000.


In the face of a climate that seems to have gone wild and weather phenomena that, as in the case of China, can be fatal, technology is stepping in to provide local predictions tailored to the needs of each activity with an accuracy that will only improve in the coming years. It never rains to everyone’s liking, but we have an umbrella at our disposal that, when needed, protects us. It’s up to you whether you prefer to get wet or stay sheltered.

Sources consulted:

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