Ready for Extreme Weather? IBM - Yes, IBM can help
On June 28, if anyone in the greater Washington D.C. area ran a weather-modeling service called Deep Thunder, they would have known a derecho windstorm was about to rip trees from the ground, knock out power and leave millions of people stifling in relentlessly sticky heat.
No one did.
As a result, millions of people suffered for days on end as utilities scrambled to restore electricity. Many businesses were idled through the Fourth of July holiday. Untold millions in wages and revenue were lost. At least 13 people died.
“Had Deep Thunder been in operation in those areas, we would have had … an 18-hour lead time,” Lloyd Treinish, chief scientist for the program at IBM Research in New York told me Wednesday.
The company recently tested the service with weather data available the day before the twice-a-decade derecho hit. No weather forecasters in the area predicted the event. IBM, in hindsight, says Deep Thunder would have nailed it.
The example is a good sales pitch. It’s also what’s possible with today’s computer technology combined with mountains of data and the algorithms to make sense of it all.
Deep Thunder combines available data from public and private weather, geological and space agencies along with information about a client’s infrastructure and readiness requirements to generate a business-specific forecast. It has a resolution of 1 kilometer and is effective out to three days.
“The concept is to be able to predict the impact and response due to severe weather events,” Treinish said.
The forecasts are customized with visualizations that are easy for decision makers to understand.