February 25, 2016

Northwest FCS News


The Science behind Predicting Weather

Eric Snodgrass – Co-Founder, Global Weather and Climate Logistics, LLC

The second speaker for the General Session on Thursday, Eric Snodgrass, used slides, videos and color commentary to illustrate his topic, Predicting Chaos: Managing Your Weather Risk.

As rain streamed outside, Eric led us through the myriad online tools that he uses to put together reports and forecasts on rainfall, temperature, growing degree days, field conditions and yield estimates. Is it too wet to plow? What seeds should I plant? Which nutrients – and how much – are needed in each of my fields? From screenshots of the man-made objects orbiting earth, to a video of a young swimmer diving into snow, to a look at the current jet stream activity, to a total culvert fail in a downpour, Eric enraptured the ag-centric audience with weather-related information they need every day to make the decisions that will determine their profitability.

It was palatable Big Data with a purpose…to help farmers increase yields and financial institutions manage risk.

Eric had some good news for Pacific Northwest growers. Most of the region has come out of drought (or nearly so), and although the summer months will be warmer, severe drought is not likely this year. The Midwest will return to drought conditions, however, badly impacting crops once again.

Eric is Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among his activities, each year he guides more than 1,500 students through the wild side of weather and teaches courses including the Economics of Weather and Renewable and Alternative Energy, supervises research projects and advises all undergrad majors and minors in atmospheric science.

He’s also involved with Agrible, a company that creates easy-to-use predictive analytics tools that deliver field-specific data and forecast to help with decision-making on the farm.