AccuWeather, the State College, Pa. based weather forecasting company, turned 50 years old today. It’s a company that I’ve criticized occasionally, yet deeply admire for its passion in providing useful, entertaining weather information and its innovation.
The business was founded in 1962 by Joel Myers who had weather in his blood from a young age.
“I remember when I was three or four years old I was fascinated by snow,” he explained in article on AccuWeather.com. “I loved when it snowed and got excited during snow storms. I remember when I was seven years old, particularly, there was a snow storm in Philadelphia that blocked the streets and my aunt was trapped at our house and stayed up virtually all night just watching the snow come down, and just being fascinated with the impact of the snow on civilization.”
Sounds like me growing up in Washington, D.C. and many meteorologists I know.
Myers started AccuWeather while a second year graduate student at Penn State University. “I [wanted to] combine my passion and love of weather forecast with a business somehow,” he said in a video. “I always had a lot of energy and passion...”
He grew his fledgling company from his dorm room through grass roots efforts, soliciting clients in numerous sectors, starting with the gas and ski industries.
“I had to call probably 25,000 prospects before I had 100 paying customers which means I had 24,900 no’s,” Myers said. “I guess most people I’ve talked to about that would have given up long before that.”
Myers over time built the business with his two brothers, Barry and Evan, and a growing team, which now includes 117 meteorologists - the most under one roof anywhere in the world AccuWeather claims.
Some of AccuWeather’s key milestones include:
* Developing the first weather pages for USA Today in 1982
* Developing the UV Index in 1994
* Launching 10-day forecasts in 1997
* Growing the staff to 100 forecast meteorologists in 1999
* Having the second most downloaded app for the Iphone in 2009
* Reaching 25 billion page views on AccuWeather.com in 2011
* Issuing a 25-day forecast in 2012
As I mentioned up front, along with other members with the Capital Weather Gang, I have sometimes taken shots at AccuWeather - usually for pushing the limits of weather forecasting beyond what’s scientifically defensible in some circumstances. When its 25-day forecasts were launched earlier this year, I wrote: “Consider me highly skeptical about their value.”
In addition, after a storm AccuWeather projected for Groundhog’s Day in 2009 failed to live up to its potential, CWG’s Andrew Freedman wrote: “the most notable example of a media organization that balanced the ratings/uncertainty equation in favor of hyping the storm beyond what was meteorologically justified was AccuWeather”
These criticisms notwithstanding, the meteorological knowledge and passion of the meteorologists at AccuWeather are unquestionable, reflecting the traits of their leader, Joel Myers. I have had the great pleasure of interacting with very talented meteorologists at AccuWeather including Henry Margusity, Jesse Ferrell, Michael Steinberg, Mike Smith and the late Ken Reeves.
AccuWeather provides excellent products and information to this country and I congratulate the entire company on 50 years of service.
Disclaimer: AccuWeather provides print weather services for the Washington Post and has, in the past, also provided online services.