Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We started this fire in 2004

6:00 AM EDT 8/17/2011  The Mid-Atlantic Team is thrilled to formally announce our newest forecast zone as part of an on-going "Day of Champions" rollout of 10 zones that began on August 10. We welcome the Northern Bayshore Zone, led by Forecaster Nick Strickland of Elkton, Maryland and a senior at North East High School. Nick is the latest fine example of the Facebook fire our team lit on December 20, 2009, five years after the initial spark started this website in January 2004.  During one of those "normal" Baltimore blizzards, while an article about our team was splashed across the front page of the Baltimore Sun, Lead Forecaster Greg Jackson, then a junior at North Carroll High School in Carroll County, MD  approached Advisor Mr. Foot and said the famous words, "I think we need a facebook page."  (see that page today.)

20 months later: Forecasting in Facebook today are high school and college student team members in 16... no.. 17 states stretching from Washington State to Colorado, next-in-line pages in Wisconsin and the Upper Great Lakes to North Carolina. Thanks to the diligent work and dedication of our unstoppable Outreach Staff of Nikki Byers, Aaron Salter, Daniel Ross, Diandre Williams and others, we are signing or training Affiliates and Forecasters in Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Kansas, the South central U.S., South Carolina, Ohio and... Puerto Rico.  

Why you should care  Because we can offer you,  your school, agency or business what no one else can: Ready access to hyper-local forecasts generated by an unlimited staff of real people with whom you can interact. Every county, every town, every school if necessary. Our team organizes the data and material produced by National Weather Service meteorologists, and communicates to you it in a simple but sophisticated and professional way.  What is the difference between us and Accu-Weather or the Weather Channel? We get that question a lot.

Our team can be everywhere simultaneously, at all hours of the day or night, because we are your neighbors, friends, high school or college friend, or long time teaching colleague. Our team, armored by iPads, Smartphones and outfitted in Storm Chasing vehicles, can tap the most powerful resource on Earth: Each other. Storm Chaser Vince Webb in Mississippi can pop us a Youtube video of a funnel cloud in Mississippi before CNN can even scoop the story. When everyone else is in bed, we're on the mark making sure there are no surprises. Our focus is town-by-town, down to the zip code or the street corner. At 12:30 AM on Christmas Day in 2010, six members of our team in three states saw NOAA data projections change for a storm some said the Delmarva would dodge altogether.  We called our contacts in the state of Maryland  at 1:30 AM on 12/25 to restate that the Eastern Shore was facing an all-out blizzard of 12 inches or more Ocean City with 40 mph winds and bitter temperatures. It happened.

It all started with a high school student. You know how many of them are out there with a Smartphone, looking to make a meaningful contribution to our society? Millions.  Where are they interacting? Facebook. We took a social media tool created by a college student and turned it into the go-to source for weather forecasts of nearly 60,000 people in all 50 states and 110 countries. Sorry Billy, we started this fire awhile ago. 

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