Get customized weather reports for your jobsites. By BUILDER Magazine Staff
As a teenager growing up in the 1970s, Paul Douglas, self-admitted weather freak, used to get on his CB radio to give weather reports to long-haul truckers. In a way, he's still at it. Three years ago, Douglas, now a meteorologist with WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, got the notion from his architect wife of offering weather reports to home builders. So he talked with several builders to ask them what they would find most useful. It wasn't temperature or wind. It was rain and snow. "What they told us was, 'Show me where the rain is.'"
It makes sense. Precipitation can throw a curve at the schedule for everything from foundation to framing to painting.
Douglas designed a service to tell contractors if it was safe to call the concrete plant. The result, launched just last month, is Mobile MyCast (866-775-4655), which, for $15 to $20 per month, sends dynamic weather maps to a java-enabled Nextel phone and centers the maps right over your jobsite.
Here's how it works: Once you've completed the sign-up process, you to go MyCast's Web site and specify the locations of your jobsites by entering a zip code or by clicking on an interactive map. Once connected, you can choose from one of the sites you specified, or enter a zip code to get maps centered on another location. The map then appears on the phone's screen, showing areas of rain moving across it. For a more detailed forecast, additional text screens let you see the wind speed, cloud cover, and the like for the next 12 hours, as well as a rain or snow forecast for the coming seven days.
For now, you can get the service only through Nextel, but Douglas is talking with other cellular providers. He also intends to add functions. For instance, he is working on an option that will call your cell phone when it's about to rain. So when those dark clouds appear on the horizon, you will know whether to keep working or to break out the tarps.