WeatherFlow.com Wind It’s almost too obvious to assert how pivotal an element that is for sailors. But how much do most of us understand about wind? And where do we turn to get a better sense of it? In the Carolina Lowcountry—and beyond— Shea Gibson has the answer. By Dan Dickision
sories, that’s not what we do. eet Shea Gibson—avid That’s the National Weather kitesurfer, defense conService’s domain.” tractor, and self-taught What WeatherFlow.com does meteorologist. Gibson, who grew do is provide five different subup in Mt. Pleasant, SC, and still scription-based consumer prodlives there, spends most of his ucts or applications, each of days working for the Department which is developed for a specific of Homeland Security, and the sub sect of the water sports rest of his working hours as a crowd. For sailors, there’s forecaster and general ambassaSailFlow. For kiteboarders, dor for WeatherFlow.com. there’s iKiteSurf. For windIf you’re not familiar with surfers, there’s iWindsurf. For WeatherFlow.com, this company fishermen, there’s FishWeather. got its start roughly 16 years ago And, for the general population, making and installing weather there’s WindAlert. stations around the coastal U.S. to Each of these is available for augment regional forecasting. A The WeatherFlow Windmeter is compatible with most smart free—initially—and accessible quarter of a century ago, the best phones via Bluetooth connection. WeatherFlow photo. via desktop, laptop, tablet and most mariners could do for wind smart phone. But if you want a more robust package with forecasts was to tap into the National Buoy Data Center. more detailed data, the company offers various levels of subThen, like now, that information mostly covers offshore scription. The base products start at $3.99 per month. And areas. Inshore, you could rely on information captured by WeatherFlow.com also has a product for professionals called instruments installed at airports, but the coastal region was Datascope that allows businesses such as harbor pilots assolargely uncovered. ciations to see the forecast data with much more detail. “That’s where WeatherFlow.com came in,” explains Gibson leads WeatherFlow.com’s forecasting team for Gibson. “There was a niche to be filled providing wind data the Southeast region, which stretches from Jekyll Island, along the coast, so the company started installing its stations GA, to Cedar Island, NC. He says that he and the company’s as close to the water as it could.” The objective, he says, was other forecasters start by examining WeatherFlow’s proprito gather more accurate wind data for these sectors and etary data. That information is then considered against make it available more frequently. “Whereas the updates additional data from the National Weather Service and the used to be hourly, our company has enabled the system to National Buoy Data Center. Weather models are also facoffer those updates every five minutes. What you’re talking tored in. “I have to look at a lot of information—the 500 milabout here are very near real-time observations.” libar map, the 850 millibar map and the upper atmosphere Gibson says that the company now has nearly 500 data—to get an accurate picture.” Ultimately, Gibson and sophisticated, self-contained, solar-powered stations situathis colleagues issue forecasts for their respective regions. ed around most of the coastal U.S., as well as the Great WeatherFlow also offers plug-in wind meters for smart Lakes, a few other inland regions, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and phones, which provide instant information that can be the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, the company’s meteoshared via Facebook, as onsite reports, tweeted or emailed. rologists—and all end users—have access to data from over The company’s newest product, WeatherMeter operates 50,000 other weather-sensing stations around the globe. with Bluetooth connectivity and adds air temperature, He’s keen to add that the wind data his company genhumidity, wind chill and heat indices. It’s almost a miniaerates is shared with NOAA and the National Weather ture personal weather station. Service, to assist with their efforts. “It’s a great partnerThe best thing about WeatherFlow.com’s offerings is ship,” says Gibson. “We share data in both directions. But that the forecasts are based on information obtained almost I should be clear, WeatherFlow.com does not assume the in real time. For Gibson and his fellow meteorologists, realrole of an authority. When it comes to severe weather advi-
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