ERF Company, Inc

Business Applications
for Extended Range Forecasting

The following is a detailed discussion of the different types of product areas that we cover. The testimonials that are given are directly from the clients. The intent was not to solicit "rah-rah" comments for ERF, but to let you know how others use our service and what they look for in our forecasts. We cover a number of different client areas, and I think you will find some of the discussion unique and informative.

Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture,
Nursery and Landscaping

Tree Fruits
Site-specific weather forecasting helps tree fruit growers with pruning, spray programs, frost control, and pest-disease and irrigation management. During harvest, rain can slow the process, so it helps to know the potential for rain and blustery winds.

Row crops are greatly impacted by wet-warm weather due to increased pest and disease infection periods, but also the ability for the crops to rot in the field if exposed to prolonged periods of high humidity or water. Hot weather also plays a major role in stressing plants and produce. Winds as well as severe thunderstorms and hail can also impact corn or other standing crops.

A standing view in the grain industry is that they plant it, watch it grow, and then harvest the crop. However, some growers like to keep tabs on heat units, monsoon-type weather patterns, and prolonged dry spells. Most of our grain growers are more interested in the longer term, 30-90 day trends than the shorter term forecast, except during planting or harvest periods. We work with a number of grain related growers around the region. Most are very progressive and innovative.

The timber industry is greatly influenced and affected by weather and long-term weather trends. My timber industry clients use my weather information for a number of reasons: spray programs, reforesting, weed and pest control, seedling operations, harvest and road work, storm mitigation, long-term trends, safety issues for crews, trucking, mill operations, irrigation management, and slash burning and smoke management. There are so many different facets to the timber industry I am sure that I have left some areas out!

Field preparation to crop management to blight control to harvest are concerns of potato growers. It seems that many of our growers are watching potato development through most of the year. The frost season is a critical period well into the summer in some regions like the Klamath Basin in Oregon. Growers use our forecasts during the harvest period due to increased wetness and muddy fields.

Hay and Grass Seed
The need for longer term forecasts helps hay growers pick and choose periods for hay harvest. This is a very difficult forecast as most growers are now "demanding" a 7-15 day window, which in some years is nearly impossible to accommodate. However, most are willing to accept that in some years it is difficult to get those 10-20 day dry spells due to monsoon-type flows coming up from the Southwest desert. However, other years we can help our growers immensely with planning decisions.

Mint and rye grass growers are also faced with similar problems. When it is time to harvest, growers often can’t wait and have to go ahead and hope for the best. We help them by forecasting the best window of opportunity for harvest. Since wet cycles vary, some years are better than others. Hopefully, each grower has some flexibility and we can use our service to determine their best options.

Frost and Arctic blasts can really have an impact on the berry industry so growers begin to worry during the middle of the winter, watching the "Alberta Clipper" or "Arctic Express," to see how close they will come to getting blasted. Spring frosts as well as spring and early summer rains during strawberry harvest are also of prime importance. It seems that our berry growers are finally out of the woods around August but are concerned again by early fall due to frost potential. Then they ask the question, "Do we hang the berry vines or wait to see how the coming winter will develop?"

Certainly early and late season frosts are major concerns for my nursery growers around the region. But due to the relatively mild climate of the region, growing crops outside year-round is possible in some areas. Of course, frost protection is never far from hand, and the fear of the old Alberta Clipper is never far from the minds of any of my clients. Pest and disease issues are also important, while irrigation management concerns can also be answered from my daily forecasts.

Nursery growers are diverse and individual – what works for one does not work for the other, even if they grow the same crops. Some growers are more concerned about hot weather trends while others worry only about fall, winter, and spring frosts. The nursery industry has been a very wonderful group to work with/for over the years.

Viticulture & Enology
This is one of my favorites because I like to drink the end product. The grape industry has a number of needs during the year, some of which they have little control, others they can control easily. Frosts, pest, and disease issues, or rain during harvest are just a few that are of prime concern. Also, prolonged dry spells can cause heat stress. Hardiness can be a huge issue in the winter. A sudden cold spell during a mild winter can wreak havoc with the industry. Frost control measures are now becoming a bigger issue, even in areas that typically do not get late season frosts. Crops are now much more valuable than ever before!

Offshore Sea Harvest
These people are a unique group of growers and harvesters who watch near-shore sea conditions very closely. This group has interests from British Columbia all the way to the Baja Peninsula so storm development during their harvest periods can be a huge issue for them. This is certainly true for fall through spring harvest periods. Sea state and swell development are of prime interest due to safety and scheduling concerns.

This is a specialized "berry" group, but since this industry is so closely related to "coastal" areas they have a niche all to themselves. Frost control, winds, and heavy rains, plus the early onset of the fall storm pattern can play an important role in planning for this group. Long-term drying can also have a profound impact on growers due to lack of fresh water during harvest. Heat is also important to this industry – lack thereof or too much!

Flowers and Bulb
This is a very unique group which could fall under the nursery group, but since they have some interesting facets to their group, I thought a separate header was needed. Frost and heavy rainfall are two of the biggest problems for this group, but also flood issues can come into play in selected areas of the Northwest. Floral development in the spring, plus marketing schedules and special weekend sales events in the spring can greatly influence sales and staffing. A rainy weekend can spell doom, but a sunny, warm weekend in the Willamette Valley or Skagit Valley can bring multitudes of folks out to buy flowers and bulbs or look at the wonderful fields full of color!

Landscaping and Ground Maintenance
The rapid growth in residential and commercial lands has allowed this group to grow markedly. Staffing, planning, and actual work schedules are of concern, but also frost and snow/ice removal issues are of prime concern. Most landscaping companies are not impacted by summer weather, however, heat stress can impact irrigation planning and scheduling. Also, water rationing issues can be a huge factor for this industry and the nursery industry, so the term "drought" sends a shiver through the backs of landscapers and nursery growers alike!

Land and Arial Spray Applicators
Wind and rain are the most important issues here, but heat and cold can come into play, too. The development of our weather station network will allow spraying crews to see what is happening in a given area before they get there, hopefully saving time and money!


Cities and Counties
The need for specific and detailed forecasts has been discussed previously, but this group benefits the most from these forecasts. Overtime costs during severe winter weather events can eat up a budget in a hurry. If I can help to save an hour or two weekly, they can more than pay for the cost of my service for many years to come. Nearly every transportation group that I work with can cite savings over the years.

Knowing a bit more about weather trends, short and long term, can help managers plan more effectively. The daily weather forecasts can also help environment bureaus, parks and recreation departments, forestry departments, water bureaus and waste water management teams. Police, fire, and emergency services are also greatly aided by short-term planning forecasts during winter emergencies. We also work with risk management teams that deal with legal issues after a weather event. Weather plays a huge role in municipal planning.

School Districts
I started working with school districts back in 1978 helping them deal with school bus issues during snow and ice events. This area has now evolved into a full-time program similar to the one used by cities and counties. No longer is the transportation director the only one needing the forecasts and detailed information. Sports directors, facility maintenance directors, and even superintendents are all very interested in the short-term and long-term forecasts. Legal issues also affect school districts and historical background can help with reviewing accidents that are weather related.

Route forecasting and planning are crucial to the trucking industry, which can be slowed by severe weather events: ice, snow, high winds, floods, mud slides, etc. Proper forecasting and hands-on discussions can help the trucking industry cope with major winter-time events. Summer heat can also be a factor for timing the arrival of trucks, but this issue is a minor inconvenience. Real-time mapping and weather data along specific routes can be very helpful and we are developing real-time mapping as part of our InfoNet package.

Mass Transit
This industry is affected similarly to the three groups mentioned above, but they have their own uniqueness. Light rain and bus lines must have detailed long-term forecasts of 6-10 hours due to the length of time it takes to get the chains and de-icing equipment rolling. Planning and staffing are huge issues due to the large number of folks impacted during snow, ice, wind, and heavy rainfall events. Routing issues also come up during mud slides and flooding.


Golf Course Management and Maintenance
The golf links industry has been fun to be part of. From weekend staff planning to major golf tournament forecasting, the golf industry has some real needs. Special events planning; weddings, meetings, and certainly the club championship are all very important. From the maintenance side, greens protection is paramount. We also watch for Arctic outbreak in the winter and too much water. Flood damage in 1996 was incredible, even for courses that don’t normally flood! Pest and disease issues also arise, but irrigation management and control seems to be even bigger. Staffing for most of these involves long- term planning, so working directly with owners, managers, and even foremen is a hands-on program.

Hotel and Motel, Bed & Breakfast
Proprietors of lodging establishments rely on our service for the safety of their guests and workers. They like to know what the weather has in store for them to plan staffing needs, have necessary equipment on hand for snow or ice or flooding, and plan for outdoor guest services. An ERF weather report is also nice to have on hand for guests to plan their own activities.

Outdoor Recreation
Ski resorts and other winter recreation businesses benefit from our weather reports to plan for snow removal and staffing needs. They also benefit from our summer forecasts for summer maintenance needs like construction, clearing trails, and fire prevention.

Utility Industry

Power Users
The availability of power during severe weather events is prime to many power users, whether municipal, industry or individual. Planning is of prime concern here as interruptible power can be an issue. Hourly, daily, and annual loads can be affected by severe or unusual weather.

Power Producers
Too much hydro can really send the market for energy into a tail spin. Too warm and too cold can also affect loads, so power producers and suppliers are always planning ahead. Market trends and usage can be huge factors, so the planning by producers can be difficult, but weather is the driving force. Hydro planning and regulating hydro projects are also of prime importance. This can be difficult if hydro is surplus or deficit. So, long-term planning is a huge issue and help.

How you get the energy to your customer can be a huge problem during snow, ice, and wind events. Advanced notice can help crews prepare for such events; the longer the prep time the better off utility crews will be, and the better the customers will be. However, some events can overwhelm even the most prepared! Line crews can only do so much during a "silver-thaw," but by knowing the extent and coverage, crews can let customers know that they will be helped as soon as the event is over.

Power Brokers
This group is impacted by long-term weather trends but certainly short-term events can trigger some huge needs. Forecasts that are made hourly, monthly, 180 days, or 10 years, can be helpful to planners and power brokers.

Construction and Building Maintenance

General Contractors
General contractors benefit from ERF forecasts with the ability to plan around the weather when scheduling subcontractors. It can also help them prepare for working in bad weather so they can have backup power ready or additional lighting available.

Paving and Concrete
Rain, frost, and freezing temperatures are a concern for paving and concrete workers. Extreme heat can also alter the workflow. Knowing what the weather has in store for paving and concrete work helps in planning staffing and scheduling the work.

Rain, humidity, hot weather, and other extremes are concerns for painters. Again, knowing what the weather has in store helps in determining how to schedule the work and what size crew to have on hand. In the long run it saves time and money.

Not having a roof over your head when the big storm comes is poor planning. ERF long-range forecasts let you know when the "window of opportunity" exists to do this type of work.

Heavy Construction and Excavation
This kind of work often takes months to complete, and knowing what the weather has in store for them can help in planning when to schedule work – like earth moving when it’s dry, high-rise work when its not windy, or indoor work when it’s pouring rain outside.

Building Maintenance and Management
The need to help building maintenance managers decide how to staff for severe weather events is similar to city and county managers, but it might even be more important if the workers cannot even get out of their apartments, condos, or homes – how can they get to work? Building management and maintenance teams are just as concerned about snow and ice removal, wind storms, and other events as those with cities and counties. Heating and cooling issues, painting, and remodeling are also issues to deal with by property managers, too. Safety might be the biggest concerns, but other factors also come into play.

Expert Testimony
and Weather Event Reconstruction

Legal Expert
The need to verify weather events at the time of an accident or criminal event can be very important in a legal case. Legal expert testimony involves reconstructing weather at the time of the event to prove what actually happened. This does not involve forecasting at all, but locating all of the weather records and data important to the case. EWIN data can and does fill the void of the database provided by the National Weather Service’s climatic data center and others. ERF has access to over 1,100 weather collection sites regionally – a very extensive database!

Insurance Industry
This is similar to expert testimony, but most of the work is done for insurance companies to verify claims of unusual weather. This can be quick or might take time depending on the location of the loss and the complexity of the weather pattern. Fraud is a huge expense for the insurance industry; hopefully, our review can minimize weather-related fraud.

430 North Lotus Isle Drive
Portland, OR 97217
Fax 503-285-3633

Copyright © 2011 ERF Company, Inc
All Rights Reserved

Forecasting Weather for the Individual
Business Applications for Extended Range Forecasting
Power Tools for Making Weather Based Business Decisions
EWIN: The ERF Weather Information Network
Global Warming, El Nino, 30-Year Wet Cycle
ERF's Meteorologists
Client Access