Taking Local Route on Weather

Using graphics to customize coverage

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To distinguish their weathercasts from online competitors, stations are increasingly looking to personalize their coverage for viewers, offering hyper-local coverage of specifi c areas or neighborhoods via their on-air, online and mobile platforms.

“We have a tool that shows how watersheds in a viewer’s geographic area—literally street-by-street— will be impacted by a flood that might crest 12 feet above flood stage,” says R. Lee Rainey, VP of marketing at AccuWeather. “It is a very powerful audience-building tool. But it can also help newsrooms see where they might need to send teams to cover the event.”

AccuWeather and other vendors are also offering radar images and maps that allow stations to show more detailed hyper-local images. “We take the 12-kilometer data resolution that the National Weather Service provides and use our algorithms to scale that down to show a 1-kilometer area that’s very specific to someone’s location,” notes Bill Baker, Weather Central president.

Vendors have also been working to personalize the information available on apps.

Weather Central, for example, will soon be offering a feature that will allow users to point their smartphone at a storm cloud and then receive information on whether or not the formation will produce thunder, rain, snow or other weather patterns.

“Broadcasters can brand the app [with their own call letters] and provide their viewers with very personalized information,” Baker says.