Steven A. Root

Certified Consulting Meteorologist
American Meteorological Society, AMS, Seal#321
President & CEO
WeatherBank, Inc.
1015 Waterwood Parkway, Suite J
Edmond, OK 73034
405-359-0773

For more than 35-years, Steven Root personally, and WeatherBank, under his leadership and vision, have pioneered numerous applications of meteorology that have enhanced awareness, application, and demand for all types of weather information by both business and general consumers.

 

Following his primary passion, Steve has always sought to clarify meteorology for end-users, resulting in benefits for business, government and the public. His and WeatherBank's clarifications in turn resulted in greater demand for solutions through the application of meteorology, and there have been many noteworthy accomplishments; here is how it all started:

 

During the mid-1970's, computerization and miniaturization led to many new consumer devices, such as the hand-held calculator.  As a graduate student during this time, Steve pioneered the idea that the same technology could be levered to generate site-specific, real-time personal weather forecasts.  His research into weather patterns and identifying accurate analogs yielded a viable weather forecasting technique. However, the electronic blueprint for the device to display the weather information did not exist. Without any previous training, he worked with engineers to design and build such a device, resulting in an operational prototype. In 1980, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Steve a patent on this device, but, more impressively, because they considered the device and concept so unique, they created an entirely new patent class to accommodate it.  During the following three years, Root met with consumer electronics fabricators, including Radio Shack, Texas Instruments and others, to build this device. Not surprising to those in this business, market studies revealed a consumer acceptance level of more than sixty percent, a metric unheard of at that time. It was only after fabricating teams at these companies failed to achieve their desired retail price levels that product development ceased. Of course, through time with costs continuing to decline as technology advanced, many companies offered hand-held or small general consumer items that display local observed and forecasted weather trends.

Original concept for "Hand-Held Weather Calculator"
AP article that appeared nationwide in November, 1979
Second Prototype, built 1981-82; still works today!

Undeterred in the value of his efforts, Steve modified his technology from hand-held displays to colored computer images for on-air weather broadcasts. Only those of us over the age of fifty-five remember that television weathercasts then were limited to magnetic �Mr. Sun� and �Mr. Cloud� stickers and grease pens on glass panels. The first computer-generated color weathercasts had few colors, low resolution and, because of limited and expensive memory, did not animate images.  In contrast, Steve presented a system that monitored local weather conditions in real-time, applied custom forecasting equations and rendered a specific forecast overlaid across a base graphic of the local city or metro.  This capability was unheard of at the time.  While others were focusing on computer hardware and software, Steve focused on the underlying base of core weather. Only during recent years have broadcast systems shifted focus onto more robust databases, longer lead-times in severe weather alerting, and better forecasting. Coincidently, it was during the mid and late eighties at a television station in Salt Lake City that he was able to provide on-air television weathercasts using the same device that he designed, built and sold to major markets across the USA.

Cover page to BE, October 1981, made quite a splash!


Around this same time, the personal computer was just beginning to gain acceptance, causing a dramatic change in the consumer�s information landscape. A simple link between a PC and a modem allowed �info junkies� to download all kinds of data whenever they chose. This was especially true for weather information. Always a forward thinker, Steve adjusted his TV system software to produce a low-cost program to fuel the needs of the ever-increasing number of weather enthusiasts. Soon thereafter, a product review in a major PC magazine read: �Fire Your Local TV Weatherman!�� the revolution had started.  These days it�s not surprising that internet weather web sites and The Weather Channel do so well!

Product reviews appeared in nearly every consumer PC/software magazine, major newspapers, and the Wall Street Journal during the late 1980's through the mid 1990's

 

Lessons learned from his early exposure in the broadcasting and consumer marketplaces led Steve to pursue servicing utility clients with long-range forecasts. To test his theories on using historical analogs, he required large quantities of historical data from many locations across North America. As with his earlier successes, Steve believed solutions to this complex problem might be found within the database itself.  Little did he know then but soon came to realize, the raw data itself contained flaws. Weather monitoring programs then did not contain the many quality-screening attributes that networks do today. Lower quality sensors and telecommunication systems, considered adequate at the time, created problems within the stored data. Steve also engaged other end-users who reported similar problems. However, these users were not meteorologists, so they were unfamiliar with weather data, its collection methods, formats and data types, etc., and they reported skewed program results after misinterpreting and incorrectly editing the raw data. Steve eventually realized that a QA/QC post-processing system was necessary, and that he and others could benefit from such a system. Using his design, WeatherBank elected to build such a system.

 

Today, with more than 60 man-years of support and enhancement behind it, WeatherBank has an automated procedure for ingesting, testing, correcting and archiving all publicly available weather data for North America. Containing more than 200 observed and calculated metrics, this value-added database has served nearly every energy utility, transportation and retail concern in North America. To service additional demand, a forecast engine was applied to the historical data, rendering a seamless output of past, current and future weather.  Countless success stories from end-users after having regressed point-of-sales, energy consumption, fuel usage or other internal, proprietary data against this database proved its benefits.  End-users can mine their own solutions to their weather-related problems by extracting the solutions from inside their own data.

WeatherBank, Inc., staff in 2006; Steve and twin, Michael, owners of the company, front row, right.

As other technologic platforms have emerged, including GPS systems, wireless and high-speed communications, Steve has kept pace, designing new state-of-the-art weather advisory systems that take advantage of all this new data.  Location-based and location-aware, an array of wireless services constantly send individualized data and content, updating mobile communications devices, based upon the exact location of the device itself.  Weather varies from mile to mile, minute to minute, and publicly available regional forecasts are too general over too large an area to be useful. "Location-based" weather services offer specificity, detail and timeliness unavailable by any other means. These products are, in effect, real-time micro-forecasts, reports targeted to the unique needs of each end-user. Matching high-value content and information with real-time location creates the potential for a vast range of consumer and business services that will force dramatic changes in the way we all live and work. While WeatherBank may not necessarily be the originating source for this micro-weather content, Steve realized that other content providers could be, creating broad new opportunities for the entire industry.  These systems have also been patented, with fifteen USA and foreign patents granted and more than forty patents pending.

 

Steve Root's thoughtful and insightful directions for custom, localized weather information and specific weather systems during his career has, in many cases, set the pace or set the tone that the weather industry has followed.  One such recent example, WeatherBank was selected and employed by the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Steve, who was located at Deer Valley, joined three other senior meteorologists from WeatherBank to provide site-specific weather forecasts for the outdoor venues at the Games.  Weather forecasts issued during these Olympic events had the highest forecast accuracy of any US-hosted Games.

Downtown Salt Lake City, prior to 2002 Winter Games
Looking up at mid mountain, the back side of the stadium grandstand, at Deer Valley
WeatherBank's 2002 Olympic Weather Forecast Team at the plaza in Park City, Utah (l to r: Steve Root, Ryan Wright, Joe Nicholls, and Matt Rehwald)

Today, Steve's primary focus spans nearly every aspect of wind farm development, including land speculation and acquisition, weather station deployment and localized data gathering, to project design and turbine placement, and final prospect sale.  Current projects include western Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas and eastern New Mexico, and total nearly 1,100 MW.  More recent projects have also included geothermal and solar applications (10-50MW) as well.

On site of a 200 MW wind farm project; one of 3 met towers on this project located in the Oklahoma Panhandle
Wind turbines at sunset in Oklahoma
60-meter meteorological tower with wind speed and direction sensors at various levels
Rising terrain of a 280 MW wind farm project, west central Oklahoma
Summer thunderheads build as wind and instability increase in the Texas Panhandle

 

Steven Root has earned a B.S. (1976) and M.S. (1980) degrees in meteorology from the University of Utah, and is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, an elite professional designation from the American Meteorological Society (AMS).  In January 2010, the AMS recognized Steve’s achievements by awarding him its Award for the Outstanding Contribution to the Advance of Applied Meteorology.

AMS recognizes Steven Root with its Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advance of Applied Meteorology, in January 2010, Atlanta, Georgia