7 Sunny Weather Tracking Statistics for 2024
Written by, Jelena Kabic
Updated February, 14, 2024
Whether they realize it or not, weather impacts everyone. It decides almost everything, from moving a simple family picnic indoors to how many people are evacuated from a pending natural disaster. As such, it’s essential to really understand how the forces of nature are measured and presented to the public. Let’s take a look at some fascinating weather tracking statistics so that you can see exactly how much work goes into creating that easy-to-use weather app you love.
1. The National Weather Service has 122 weather forecast stations across the United States
(Source: National Weather Service)
The country is divided into six different regions in order to ensure that the right forecasting information is going to the right media outlets, and to help forecast station operators communicate with one another more efficiently. Each office has its own call sign, which is used by air traffic, meteorologists, and other officials to determine which office is sharing the information. These stations are generally located at or near airports, radio stations, and schools.
2. NWS also uses over 10,000 cooperative weather stations
(Source: National Weather Service)
Cooperative weather stations are run by volunteers who are passionate about meteorology and want to improve forecasting for everyone. This network has become an American institution, and it got its start all the way back in the 1700s, when Thomas Jefferson suggested that people should work together and share data about the weather. In fact, it’s the largest cooperative of its type in the world, and it saves millions of dollars each year by using the enthusiasm of everyday people who have a bit of extra time.
3. The NOAA’s supercomputers can perform 12 quadrillion calculations per second
(Souce: Popular Science)
In 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, which runs the National Weather Service, unveiled two new supercomputers that are three times faster than their previous models. Both machines were produced by General Dynamics, a leading supercomputer manufacturer, and will be in service for at least 10 years. One, named Dogwood, is located in Virginia, and the other, named Cactus, is in Arizona.
This information isn’t just used by the National Weather Service itself: it’s also packaged into APIs, which let developers integrate weather information into their applications. Weather API allows developers to access real-time data directly from trusted services like the NWS, ensuring that the widget on your phone is giving you exactly what you need to know right now.
4. Half of Americans check the forecast every day
While 50% of Americans take a glance at the weather report, 20% check it multiple times a day; only 11% say they look at it less than once a week.
Interestingly enough, age is closely tied to how often people want to know about the weather: 85% of individuals 65 or older check the weather every day, compared to only 33% of adults age 30 or younger.
5. Most people get their forecast from a weather app
Like with many other things, people use smartphones more often than anything else in order to learn whether it’s sunny or rainy today. Many individuals use more than one type of source in order to see the forecast, which leads to some interesting results: 53% of people use weather apps to check the weather, 43% use a local TV station’s forecast, 34% use weather websites, and 27% use dedicated TV stations like The Weather Channel. Older adults are more likely to get their weather from TV stations and apps, but less likely to use social media to hear about the weather.
6. The NOAA started releasing emergency alerts in 1950
(Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)
You’re probably used to hearing your phone start making a very disconcerting noise and pop up with a message about a missing child or a tornado, but you might not realize the long history behind getting emergency alerts about things of concern.
Emergency weather alerts actually predate any other emergency message system, starting in 1950 by what was then known as the Weather Bureau. Previous to 1950, the Weather Bureau didn’t provide these, as they feared it would cause panic amongst Americans rather than weather preparedness; however, they found that this actually improved safety. Gradually, the system evolved into the Emergency Broadcast System in 1963, which would interrupt television and radio programming in order to inform people of dangers. This was later updated to the Emergency Alert System in 1997, though many still call it the Emergency Broadcast System.
7. It wasn’t until 2012 that you could get text alerts about emergencies
(Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Ready.gov)
In the early 2000s, you would have to turn the radio on or watch TV in order to get an update on a weather system nearing you, but with the growing popularity of cell phones, the Emergency Alert System updated to include text message warnings, called Target Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). The first one was sent out in relation to widespread flooding in New Mexico. WEAs are never more than 360 characters and are accompanied by a loud chirp and two vibrations. They can be sent by local and state officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President.
Weather is everywhere at all times; it can set a mood or ruin your day depending on what you’re hoping for at any given time. While Mother Nature makes it effortless, a lot of work goes into tracking and predicting it by millions of brilliant, dedicated progressions and average people all around the world. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about how that forecast appears on your smartphone app every day!