In preparation for the 2008 hurricane season, WeatherFlow has completed the initial phase of installing its hurricane-hardened weather stations throughout Florida, primarily in the state’s coastal regions and around Orlando. The provider of weather observation data and forecasting models has partnered with Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a hurricane risk modeling firm, to develop the WindX parametric index, for which the stations will collect location-specific wind speed values.

“More than 50 stations designed to withstand and accurately record winds exceeding 140 miles per hour have been planted across Florida,” said Buck Lyons, CEO of WeatherFlow. “Eight stations have also been installed in Houston, Texas.”

The stations, which are installed on concrete poles measuring 10 to 15 meters high, are not dependent on electrical or phone lines to record and communicate data year-round. They have been deliberately situated in vulnerable areas based on likely storm paths and potential for economic loss. During tropical storms and hurricanes, the stations can accurately record information to then be entered in the parametric index, which supports the transfer and trading of catastrophic hurricane risk in capital markets.”An insurance-linked security structured on the index will trigger if wind speeds on particular weather stations exceed a certain threshold,” said Peter Nakada, managing director of RMS Consulting. “This will enable insurers or reinsurers to tailor the index to their risk profiles and provide transparency to investors.”

The network complements the current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather stations as well as Weatherflow’s existing coastal observing system. Approximately 50 additional stations will be installed across the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast. Kurt Gurley, civil and coastal engineering professor at University of Florida, believes that the information gathered at each station will not only fuel research efforts but will also enable initial network stakeholders — which include a consortium of Florida utilities, the University of Florida, the National Weather Service, and several Florida municipalities — to apply science to develop measures to reduce power outages resulting from catastrophic events. Moreover, Gurley’s vision is to have a station every five miles along the coast, with additional stations inland.

“For extreme weather events, there’s no such thing as too much information,” he said.

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