The Weather Underground, started in AOSS in the 80’s, has been acquired by The Weather Channel.
“It is truly amazing what can come out of undergraduate projects at Michigan,” AOSS Professor Perry Samson states in an e-mail.
The Weather Underground began as a telnet session so Samson could get weather data before a 9 A.M. class. With NSF support, it evolved to build one of the first interactive graphics tools (Blue Skies) using gopher technology.
The students involved, including Alan Steremberg, Jeff Masters, and Chris Schwerzler plus a former staff member, Jeff Ferguson, regrouped the effort a few years after graduation into the commercial site http://www.wunderground.com.
The Weather Underground has grown to be one of the top 100 most visited web sites in the United States and is expected to grow even faster after the acquisition.
In a New York Times interview, chairman and chief executive of the Weather Channel Companies, David Kenny, praised Weather Underground for having a “hard-core audience.”
Mr. Kenny also stated that Wunderground.com will continue to exist on its own. The data collected by Weather Underground will be harnessed to improve the Weather Channel’s forecasts.
The photo is of the original seven founders of wunderground.com, plus their first employee, circa 1998. In front, from left to right: Chris Schwerzler, Jeff Masters, Jeff Ferguson. In back: Dave Brooks, Alan Steremberg, Perry Samson, Chuck Prewitt, and Mike MacDonald. Courtesy of Brian E. Gilchrist.