Most weather forecasts are targeted to one of four areas. These include the private sector, agriculture, the general public and other meteorologists. The private sector includes clients such as oil refineries, fruit and vegetable growers, cattle ranchers, casinos, airlines, ski resorts, electric companies, entertainment, railroads, newspapers and so forth. Much of the forecasting for the private sector is done through large specialized forecast businesses such as AccuWeather, The Weather Channel and WeatherData. The aim is to save businesses money by preparing them for upcoming weather situations (especially severe weather and winter storms) and through accurate temperature forecasts. The forecasts are often specialized to the clients needs. The amount of forecast specialization determines the cost of the services rendered. Examples of situations a business would need severe weather information include: (1) A car lot being forewarned that a hail storm is approaching (2) Transportation impacts on big rigs and trains (3) Warning a ceremony that severe weather is approaching.
The second area is agriculture. Through the weather services' modernization, agriculture forecasting has been gradually given to the private sector. Much of the forecasting for agriculture is done by consulting businesses and "in house" meteorologists. However, a large percentage of daily forecast information is gathered from sources such as TV, radio, newspaper and the Internet. Agriculturists are interested in subjects such as the weather and climate's impact on crop prices, supply and demand of crops, soil moisture, soil temperature, precipitation forecasts, frost/ freeze forecasts, threshold temperatures, growing degree days, bug infestations, extended weather forecasts and so forth. The weather will determine when spraying for bugs or fertilizing will be most appropriate.
It is the general public that broadcast meteorologists target to the greatest percentage. While clients of consulting companies use weather information to primarily save money, the general public is more interested in topics such as: What should I wear tomorrow? Do I need to leave early for work? What will the weather be like for the weekend picnic? Do I need to take an umbrella? What weather disasters occurred today? How should I plan for the next severe weather situation or ice storm? And as a last example, Will I be able to have my outdoor plans? The general public uses weather information for PREPARATION just as do consulting meteorology clients. The forecaster that prepares the viewers the best and makes them feel good is often successful at building a reputation as a respectable weather forecaster. If the forecaster gives the general public an umbrella when they need it, dresses them properly for the warm and cold, gives severe weather information first and most accurately, and has a friendly attitude toward the viewer will again build an accurate forecast reputation. On air personality is also critical to building a friendly reputation.
These are the five bits of weather information the public as a whole is interested in:
The public expects accuracy and consistent accuracy in forecasts. This is not to say the forecasts have to be perfect every time, but they should be in the ball park every time. Never give the target audience unachievable promises. Unachievable promises turn into busted forecasts and in the long term destroy your trust with your clients or viewers. An example would be "the 3-day high and low temperature will always be accurate to within one degree".
The public and clients also expect to be called into action when weather will influence their lives. They expect you to "take charge" and tell them what they should do. Examples of calling the public to action include: (1) Wall to wall coverage when severe weather is influencing a viewing area (2) Getting severe weather warning to clients or viewers ASAP (3) Telling people how to drive in a winter weather situations
Forecasts can also be used by other meteorologists. Once developing a forecast of your own, other forecasts can be used to compare to your forecast. Examples include broadcast meteorologists watching the competitions' forecast, meteorologists studying and researching NWS forecasts and clients using more than one source for weather information (e.g. "in-house" meteorologist comparing his/her forecast to others). An in-house meteorologist is employed by the business they are forecasting for.
This is a list of businesses and important weather information they need:
POWER COMPANY: 1. accurate temperature forecast, 2. lightning forecast 3. High wind situations, 4. freezing rain and icing situations
Crews need to be on stand-by during high wind (e.g. hurricanes), lightning and freezing rain situations in order to restore power promptly. Temperature forecasts can be used to determine how many units of energy to buy. Too few or too many units of energy bought will result in a waste of money and ultimately higher cost to the consumer.
DEEP SEA OIL COMPANY: 1. Wave reports 2. Tropical advisories 3. Thunderstorms 4. Ocean currents
Large waves (either by thunderstorm complexes or tropical systems) can severely disrupt production. Workers need to be evacuated before severe weather strikes
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE GROWER: 1. Rain amount 2. Accurate temperature forecasts (especially freezing and very hot temperatures) 3. Soil moisture 4. Long term drought or heavy rain 5. Sunshine hours 6. Severe weather (wind and hail)
Plants have certain temperature and moisture thresholds that must be met. Long range forecasts help determine which crops to grow. Frost/freeze advisories are critical. Protection such as wind blowers or latent heat release can save crops from freeze damage. Precipitation influences bug spraying and fertilizer broadcasting
SKI RESORT: 1. Porosity of falling snow 2. Snow amount (and intensity) 3. Wind conditions 4. UV conditions 5. Temperature forecasts and wind chill 6. Avalanche advisories
The amount of skiers is a function of snow fall and snow quality. Temperature forecasts determine snow quality and precipitation forecasts determine snow intensity, amount, and duration.
AIRLINES: 1. Severe weather 2. Winter weather, no matter how minor 3. Fog (visibility in general) 4. Wind speed and direction at all levels in the atmosphere (any turbulence)
Weather is extremely critical to prevent accidents and liability. Strict caution is taken in severe weather, low visibility or winter weather situations. Upper air wind can be used to map routes in order to save gas and time. De-icers must be ready in cases of wing icing.
SITE WHERE MOVIE SCENES ARE FILMED: 1. Temperature and precipitation 2. Cloud cover 3. Severe weather 4. Wind
Weather consistency is important to movies since one scene of a movie may be shot over a period of several days. Scenes tend to be shot in dry areas since precipitation and cloud cover inconsistency won't continuously delay shootings. The weather will determine costumes and which scenes may need to be shot in-doors or on location.