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AccuWeather, Inc.

AccuWeather, Inc.

385 Science Park Road
State College, Pennsylvania 16803
U.S.A.
Telephone: (814) 235-8650
Fax: (814) 235-8609
Web site: http://www.accuweather.com

Private Company
Incorporated: 1975 as Accu-Weather, Inc.
Employees: 335
Sales: $100 million (2003 est.)
NAIC: 513220 Cable and Other Program Distribution; 514110 News Syndicates; 514191 On-Line Information Services

AccuWeather, Inc. is the leading commercial weather service in the world. It provides forecasting, graphics, and other information to more than 235,000 print and broadcast media clients, as well as users in business, government, and institutions. More than 850 newspapers around the world print weather pages created by AccuWeather, which also supplies the Associated Press. Its content appears on 1,200 Internet sites as well, including its own AccuWeather.com. The company also has pioneered graphical weather content for wireless devices. The company gathers meteorological information from more than 200 countries through an array of 35 satellite receivers. It keeps about 100 meteorologists on staff, the largest assemblage of forecasters under one roof. It claims greater accuracy than either the National Weather Service or its archrival, The Weather Channel.

Origins

AccuWeather, Inc.'s origins can be traced back to November 15, 1962, when Dr. Joel N. Myers, then a graduate student at Penn State, began forecasting winter weather for Columbia Gas, a Pennsylvania gas utility. According to the Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurs, Myers had begun logging weather conditions at the tender age of seven and within a few years was dreaming of starting his own forecasting business. Myers obtained raw data from government institutions such as the National Weather Service. He performed his own analysis to create more accurate forecasts.

Myers soon began helping ski resorts determine the best times to make artificial snow. Other early clients included government agencies. Myers continued to teach and study at Penn State's leading meteorology program, earning a Ph.D. in 1971. He retired from the university ten years later. (Myers's younger brother Barry joined the business in 1964, eventually becoming executive vice-president and general counsel.)

In the Media in the 1970s

Myers started reading the weather on Penn State's public TV station (WPSX) in 1968. In 1971, he landed AccuWeather's first radio account, with WARM of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania. In late 1971 Philadelphia's WPVI became the first television station to subscribe.

The AccuWeather name was unveiled in 1971. A product for newspapers was introduced in 1974. The business was incorporated in November 1975 as Accu-Weather, Inc. The same year, the company came out with customized seven-day forecasts for local markets.

1980s Enhancements

AccuWeather developed the weather page for the national daily USA Today, launched by Gannett Co. in 1982. In 1986, AccuWeather began producing weather maps for the Associated Press. Business blossomed in the early 1980s. According to Forbes, revenues were about $2 million in 1983, when AccuWeather had 500 clients.

The company's AccuData real-time weather database was introduced in 1984. It originally incorporated 12,000 different weather products; this number would nearly triple over the next several years. Subscribers included home, business, and educational users. In pre-Internet days, users could access AccuWeather's database via modems and the Accu-Weather Forecaster program. The software displayed the raw data with a number of graphics. Users were charged sign-up and connection fees.

AccuWeather streamlined its data delivery for various media. It introduced broadcast-ready color graphics for television in 1983 (it began supplying weather graphics computers systems to TV stations three years later). It also began transmitting weather data directly to newspapers' typesetting systems.

The company expanded into the aviation and education markets in the mid-1980s. AccuWeather's main challenge over the next 20 years would be to successfully meet the demands of new broadcast technologies. One of these, cable television, provided a platform for the emergence of a powerful new rival, The Weather Channel.

At the end of the 1980s, AccuWeather had about 2,000 clients. It limited its franchise to one television and one radio station per market. It was also supplying Reuters Ltd., the U.K. based wire service, as well as scores of private businesses and government agencies. AccuWeather acquired Oklahoma City's WeatherScan International Corporation in 1989.

New Media in the 1990s

New methods of delivery were developed in the early 1990s, including an automated service and broadcasts via Compu-Serve. By 1991, AccuWeather had begun transmitting print-ready pages directly to newspaper printing systems.

There also were new sources of weather information, such as NEXRAD Doppler radar data acquired from Unisys, made available through the Accu-Data database. New sources of weather imagery continued to emerge in the mid-1990s. AccuWeather was a leader in providing images from weather satellites. VirtualWeather offered computer-generated 3-D representations of storm systems.

AccuWeather.com was launched in 1996, the same year the company introduced local weather for cable TV systems. An aviation-related weather site debuted in 1998.

The detail of AccuWeather's local forecasting was extended with 10-Day Hour-by-Hour forecasts introduced for 55,000 cities in 1997. Widespread Weather Services was acquired during the year.

A new interpretive tool introduced in 1997 was The Exclusive AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature, which described what the temperature really felt like to someone appropriately dressed for the weather. It was a unique composite of everything that affects how warm or cold a person feels, and measured the effects of temperature, wind, humidity, sunshine intensity, cloudiness, precipitation, and elevation on the human body.

The late 1990s was a time of celebration and success at AccuWeather. In 1997, company founder Dr. Joel N. Myers was recognized as a major American entrepreneur by Entrepreneur Magazine. The next year, the company moved to a new $5 million, 52,000-square-foot headquarters. In the late 1990s, AccuWeather had 345 employees and 15,000 customers, including 280 radio stations, 250 TV stations, and 400 newspapers.

As a side venture, AccuWeather also was distributing other types of information and content such as crossword puzzles and lottery results. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, though, most of its revenues came from analyses provided to businesses, not the media. The company had to be vigilant, however, to fend off advances from The Weather Channel on its traditional media and corporate weather businesses.

In early 1999, AccuWeather rolled out Forecast Center, a turnkey, automated service that allowed local television stations to transmit graphics and live, two-way footage of AccuWeather's own meteorologists.

New Standards for the New Millennium

AccuWeather brought out a new PC-based Galileo Weather System in 2001. It soon became a leader in the TV broadcast industry, which had been dominated by the SGI platform for several years.

The company helped Allentown, Pennsylvania's WFMZTV develop an all-local, 24-hour weather channel for digital TV. Another new offering, Weather-Triggered Marketing, matched online ads to weather conditions based on users' zip codes.

Company Perspectives:

AccuWeather Mission: To save lives, protect property, and help people to prosper, while expanding AccuWeather as a healthy and profitable business.

AccuWeather Vision: To be the world's best and mostused source of weather information.

AccuWeather Values: To achieve AccuWeather's mission, we require great people with great values. AccuWeather seeks to recruit, develop and retain people who are intelligent, innovative, and entrepreneurial, who take pride in their work, and who passionately share AccuWeather's values: Respect, honesty and trust; Commitment and responsibility; Collaboration and communication; Quality and accuracy; Service to internal and external customers; Efficiency, productivity and achievement.

Key Dates:

1962:
As a Penn State grad student, Dr. Joel N. Myers begins forecasting for a local gas company.
1968:
Myers begins forecasting weather for a local public TV station.
1971:
Myers lands his first radio account; the Accu-Weather name is introduced.
1974:
The newspaper product is introduced.
1979:
The AccuData database is introduced.
1986:
AccuWeather begins producing weather maps for the Associated Press.
1997:
The Exclusive AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature index is introduced as an improvement to the heat index.
2001:
Galileo Weather System is offered to TV stations.
2003:
AccuWeather launches the first high-definition TV weather system.

In 2002, AccuWeather acquired the United Kingdom's OnlineWeather, as well as the newspaper businesses of Weather-Data, Inc. and Meteorlogix, LLC. AccuWeather was providing graphical weather data for a variety of wireless devices. It was also at the forefront of an industry trend to provide increasingly more precise local weather data. In 2003, AccuWeather launched the world's first high-definition TV weather system via Cablevision's VOOM service.

Also in 2003, AccuWeather launched its Wireless Weather application that provides 24-hour weather forecasts, radar images, and severe weather watches and warnings to cell phones. In 2005, AccuWeather launched its Local AccuWeather Channel, an automated around-the-clock loop of customized local weather and news information for cable stations.

Principal Competitors

AWS; Baron Services, Inc.; DTN; National Weather Service; Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.; The Weather Channel.

Further Reading

AccuWeather, Inc., "AccuWeather Highlights: A Compendium of AccuWeather Firsts, Innovations, Awards and Interesting Tidbits," State College, Penn.: AccuWeather, Inc., 2005.

"AccuWeather Leads the Nation and Serves the World," State College, Penn.: AccuWeather, Inc., 2005.

"The AccuWeather Story: Excellence in Weather Forecasting Since 1962," State College, Penn.: AccuWeather, Inc., c. 2003.

"AccuWeather Uploads Advanced Doppler Radar Images," Link-Up, May/June 1993, pp. 1+.

Adler, Roger, "Eye of the Storm; In-House Counsel: Barry Myers, AccuWeather Inc.," National Law Journal, April 5, 2004.

Altman, Burt, "Accu-Weather Brings Graphic Forecasts Online," Link-Up, May/June 1991, pp. 1+.

Anderson, Karen, "AccuWeather Debuts Forecast Center," Broadcasting & Cable, January 4, 1999, p. 70.

Astor, Dave, "Four Decades for Forecasting Firm: Newspaper List Growing As AccuWeather Marks Anniversary," Editor & Publisher, June 23, 2003, p. 21.

Balas, Janet, "Accu-Weather: Getting Your Data and Using It, Too," Computers in Libraries, April 1990, pp. 37+.

Beebe, Paul, "AccuWeather Builds Media Base," Centre Daily Times (State College, Penn.), November 7, 2002.

Carmichael, Mary, "Hot and Bothered," Newsweek, June 24, 2002, pp. 90+.

"Clear and Increasingly Accurate: Advanced Weather Radar Technology," Document Delivery World, April 1, 1993, p. 44.

Cooper, Jim, "The Business of Weather," Broadcasting & Cable, May 31, 1993, p. 46.

Cotlier, Moira, "Climate-Controlled Banner Ads," Catalog Age, March 15, 2001, p. 7.

Dixon, Glen, "Weather Right or Wrong," Broadcasting & Cable, December 15, 1997, p. 129.

Fish, Larry, "Forecast for Accu-Weather: Great," Houston Chronicle, March 13, 1988, p. 3.

Gannon, Joyce, "Joel Said It Would; AccuWeather's Myers Has Built a Big Business on a Tricky Subject," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 4, 1998, p. F5.

Grotticelli, Michael, "Talk About the Weather; With Help from AccuWeather, Allentown, Pa., Station Airs 24-Hour Local Service Via DTV," Broadcasting & Cable, May 28, 2001, p. 40.

Guterl, Fred, "The Nerds of Weather: Where Does Your 'Local' AccuWeather Forecast Come From? A Little Building in Rural Pennsylvania," Newsweek, September 30, 2002, p. 48.

Hallett, Anthony, and Diane Hallett, "Joel N. Myers (AccuWeather, Inc.)," Entrepreneur Magazine Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurs, Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Herrera, Stephan, "Weather Wise," Forbes, June 14, 1999, p. 90.

Keegan, Paul, "Stormy Weather," Business 2.0, June 2005, pp. 130B136.

Kerschbaumer, Ken, "Storm Warning: AccuWeather Introducing a PC-Based System for Graphics, a New Challenge for SGI," Broadcasting & Cable, September 10, 2001, p. 50.

Mackinnon, Jim, "Pennsylvania-Based AccuWeather to Build New Headquarters," Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, March 27, 1997.

Mari, Christopher, "Myers, Joel N.," Current Biography Index, April 2005, pp. 44+.

Moss, Linda, "Forecast: Weather Rivalry to Heat Up," Multichannel News, March 24, 1997, p. 54.

St. Goar, Jinny, "First Degree," Forbes, December 19, 1983, p. 206+.

Smeltz, Adam, "AccuWeather Trims Workforce, Tightens Belt as Economy Struggles," Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, September 30, 2002.

Wind, Gregory, "A Climate Control; Forecast: Weather Data That Is More Local and Precise," Broadcasting & Cable, March 22, 2004, p. 43.

Frederick C. Ingram

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