The purpose of forecasting is to prepare people and businesses from losing money and to enhance human comfort. Good forecasts pay off economically not by generating large sums of money but rather by preventing the loss of a large sum of money. Some examples of forecasts saving money include: Warning a car dealership of the likeliness of damaging hail, Warning the farmer of a potential damaging freeze, Warning a coastline of a potential hurricane landfall.
On an individual basis, good forecasts help people plan their day more efficiently and keep them more comfortable. Tools such as having an umbrella and being properly dressed for the temperatures that day enhance human comfort. The public is most concerned with precipitation characteristics, temperature trends, very humid/dry air, sunshine hours, wind-chill/heat index, severe weather and air quality. The general public is interested in questions such as: Do I need to leave for work early?, How do I need to dress? And will I be able to have my outdoor plans?
Private sector forecasts are generated for clients such as oil refineries, fruit and vegetable growers, cattle ranchers, casinos, airlines, electric companies, newspapers, and so forth. Each of these clients has tailored needs from a forecast. Correct forecasts have the potential to save billions of dollars each year when combining legal fees, infrastructure, saved lives, saved crops, saved time, and saved power. Correctly forecasting hurricane landfalls, flooding, a severe weather outbreak and winter storms along with timely updates while the event is occurring are critical to saving lives, property and money.