METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
This series on weather and business covers weather and its influence on utilities, shopping, parks & recreation, and agriculture.
The weather has an importance influence on the utilities industry. Energy demand is a strong function of the current weather. To meet
demands of customers, utility companies need to be ready to supply more energy when the weather is unusually warm or cold. Repairs need
to be anticipated in cases of severe thunderstorms and winter storms.
People generally have a certain temperature that they consider comfortable in the home. In cases of unusually warm or cold weather, an
increase of energy demand will be required. During hot weather, air conditioners will run more often and will have to work harder to
keep the building at a comfortable temperature. In these cases it can be expected that utility bills will go up due to the increase
of energy the utility company will need to supply. To help counteract this, it can help to set the thermostat at a higher temperature. When
many people and businesses do this, it will help the utility company satisfy the higher demand and it will lower the utility bill
from what it could have been.
During cold weather, heaters will run more often and will have to work harder to keep the building at a comfortable temperature. This
tends to increase electric and natural gas usage and therefore leads to a higher utility bill. To help counteract this, it can help
to set the thermostat at a lower temperature. When many people and businesses do this, it will help the utility company satisfy
the higher demand and it will lower the utility bill from what it could have been.
Climatology and usage from previous years is used to gauge how likely the demand for energy will be. Climatological forecasts can be used
by utility companies to get a rough sense of how much extra or less the energy demand will be for the season coming up. Other factors are
looked at including: population growth/decline, last year’s usage at the same time, energy efficiency changes, short and medium term
fuel prices and conservation efforts. All these and other factors are important in determining how much energy a utility will need to
supply for the upcoming season. Being close to the estimate will help save the utility company money and will
maximize service to the customers.
Weather has a big influence on shopping habits. Weather can dramatically increase or decrease the amount and type of shopping that
is done. This writing goes over various weather factors that impact shopping habits.
Winter precipitation: Winter precipitation and the cold weather it brings can significantly reduce the amount of shopping depending
on how severe the event is and where it takes place. Shopping can increase significantly before a winter weather event, especially
when shopping at grocery stores. This is due to the anticipation of having to be stuck at home for several days. With more time
at home there is a need for more grocery and household items and this helps increase the amount of grocery buying that is done
before an event. During a winter weather event, shopping tends to decrease substantially. This can lead to stores closing early
or not opening at all.
Sunny and mild weather: Sunny and mild weather can lead to increased shopping. The easy to find excuses such as it is too cold, too
hot, too rainy, too icy are irrelevant and thus more people will find their way to the store. This is especially true on the weekend
when more people have more free time to go shopping. The sunshine helps put some people in a better mood. The mild weather makes
it easy to dress for the weather before leaving out the door. Look for increased business on nice days (sunny, light wind,
Weather that keeps the shoppers away: The following are excuses that are used to not shop. This can apply to other areas also such as
eating out and working out.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Weather has a powerful influence on outdoor recreation and activities that are attended in general. Unpleasant weather tends to keep
more people indoors. If unpleasant enough, people will not even leave the home. Examples that could cause this include severe storms,
ice storms, snow storms and very poor air quality. Staying at home leads people to increasing their TV viewing, cooking and computer use.
Nice weather will get a greater percentage of people to head outdoors. This can include such activities as walking the dog, jogging, going
to a park, shopping, eating out, traveling and having a cook out. People have different definitions of what is considered nice weather,
but nice weather tends to have the following characteristics: sunny weather, light wind, temperature between 60 F and 95 F, good
visibility/high air quality, and no threat of storms.
Businesses that focus on recreation or outdoor walking love the nice weather days. Examples include gyms, national parks, city parks,
tourist attractions, outdoor malls/flea markets, carnivals, fairs, amusement parks, water parks, pools, sports stadiums, and outdoor
shows. Business can be much higher on the nice weather days as compared to the lousy weather days. Nice weather brings in more
money for many of these businesses.
Weather plays a critical role in the agricultural industry. It is as important as any other element that goes into growing crops since
the weather has a powerful influence on production. High productivity is the goal for an agricultural crop. Higher productivity occurs, when
for a given amount of land, a higher yield of a certain crop is produced. High productivity leads to more revenue since more of the crop
can be sold. Other elements that can result in a higher productivity include quality fertilizers, genetic engineering to make the crops
bigger and more resistant to pests and other resistances to negative influences, higher quality soil, optimum watering schedule, type of
crop grown, optimum intervention techniques, high quality seeds and an increased number of plants per unit area.
A variety of weather elements have to come together to make a crop yield productive. Too much of a good thing is not good. For example,
too much rain can damage certain crops and too much sun can also damage certain crops. The right balance of sun, precipitation, wind,
humidity and temperature are needed to optimize crop growth. This balance changes for each type of crop. With this balance being so
important, it is important to have good weather and climate forecasts so that adjustments in crop volume, crop type, and crop intervention
techniques can be prepared for. Examples of intervention techniques include preparation for freezing temperatures, having more water
on hand when the forecast is for extended dry weather, harvesting the crop at the optimum time for that season and planting different
crops that work well together for a particular weather pattern.