Malcolm MacLeod is a busy guy. From the moment I enter Scotia Weather, he’s on the phone, answering questions from staff, and most certainly at the helm of the ship. Also known as Mac, he’s the President of this privately owned weather service, located on Wyse Road in Dartmouth. A small office houses eight super smart people- six meteorologists, and two IT experts. Maps, graphs and charts decorate the walls and shelves, and I was fascinated by the insider window these folks have on the world of weather.
Mac started the business in 2003, after a long career bouncing around Canada as a meteorologist in various capacities. He recognized the need for a site specific forecasting group. My first question to him was the obvious, ‘How are you different from Environment Canada?’ Mac patiently explained that while in the same game, EC provides warnings, advisories and area forecasts. Scotia Weather’s game is a bit more specific. For example one of their clients is the Confederation Bridge joining New Brunswick and PEI. If the wind in the midpoint of the bridge reaches 70 km / hour, the bridge commission may choose to close it to high sided trucks. That’s a pretty specific number in a pretty specific spot- and Scotia Weather focuses on answering these types of questions for its customers, to keep them functioning efficiently.
As we toured around the facility, including several small offices, a boardroom and a tiny room filled with nothing but intimidating looking computer equipment, Mac explained that they presently serve 12 clients from Halifax all the way to Vancouver. I was beginning to get an understanding of the nuts and bolts of the operation- a construction company may call several times a day to request updates on when the snow will stop at their site, or a railway may receive electronic readings every 12 hours. Scotia Weather helps businesses run efficiently and outsmart the weather.
Accessing Environment Canada’s FTP (file transfer protocol) system, as well as numerous feeds including wind farms and Nova Scotia Power, Scotia Weather uses computer models to collate their ever-changing data. Using Global and Regional readings, they can get forecasts up to 16 days in some cases. Most forecasts run every 12 hours, and Scotia Weather is never closed- in Mac’s words, they’re a 24 / 7 operation.
Thanks to Mac and his team for taking the time to introduce me to the wonderful world of site specific weather!
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