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Monday, July 22, 2024

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National Weather Forecasting Takes NEFI by Storm


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NEFI’s new weather service provides more data and access

Members of the National Energy & Fuels Institute (NEFI) have already been introduced to its new weather service, National Weather Forecasting, Inc., led by Russ Murley. NWF took over the weather reporting and forecasting in October and has been providing weekly weather update emails and expanded information on the NEFI portal at nationalweatherforecastinginc.com/nefi. Oil & Energy sat down with Murley to learn more about the company, their services, and Murley himself.

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NEFI Services

NWF expands the services that NEFI members were familiar with. The new provider offers heating degree day forecasts and historical data for more than 200 locations and will add additional weather stations upon request. This information is updated at least once a day and available on the web portal.

“The expanded services and data that is now available to NEFI members will help them to implement more efficient delivery schedules and anticipate higher demand periods. One of the most significant service enhancements is the online access to rolling 10-day temperature forecasts and heating degree day projections, as well as actual elapsed HDDs at the local weather station and region-wide meteorological reports,” said NEFI President Sean Cota.

In addition, National Weather Forecasting will provide NEFI members with:

  • Detailed weather discussions covering expected temperature and storm patterns, issued via email every Monday, and available online.
  • Weather updates and disruptive storm forecasts provided as needed.
  • Rolling 10-day degree day forecasts
  • Actual degree day data (observed vs normal) for the past previous 30 days or monthly
  • 10-day temperature highs/lows forecasts
  • Annual Winter Weather Forecast webinars

A video tutorial on the services, data and using the portal is available on the NWF home page and at NEFI.com/weather.

NEFI member company representatives were provided with credentials to access these free services and were invited to the October “2023-2024 Long Term Winter Forecast” webinar, which doubled as an introduction to NWF and its portal. Members who have not received access or would like to add staff to the access lists, are asked to contact NEFI at membercom@nefi.com.

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Behind the Weather

“We’re very excited to be working with NEFI, as well as the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE) and the New Yore Propane Gas Association (NYPGA). We’re looking forward to continuing to improve upon our product offerings and bringing the best weather information available to the members,” Murley said.

NWF has a staff of eight meteorologists and uses its own in-house statistical models to analyze and manipulate data for any weather station in North America. According to Murley, they are one of a very few companies with in-house local modeling, as most services work on global data. The NWF data is often localized to only 1.5-to-2 kilometers.

The pride of National Weather Forecasting is its proprietary SuperBlend System. Murley describes the SuperBlend System as a blend of all the available computerized forecasting models, with a twist. “We blend them and come up with an average, and then add a 30-day bias correction. We find which models did the best over the different days, looking at their results based on weather systems and locations, to find the most accurate. We’re compiling that information to offer the best possible solution based on that constant back-testing.”

“Weather reports are available all over the internet, but when you need something that’s not out there, we can develop it quickly,” he said. “Because we’re relatively small, we’re nimble and quick, and can respond quickly to customer requests.” Murley then described a report they recently developed on pavement temperatures. It was not something widely available, but has value for highway or airport maintenance, snow and ice removal companies, and more.

Closer to home, NWF recently modified the Energy Analysis Database available to NEFI members to include heating degree day normals with the 10-day forecasts.

The company is also willing to create detailed, site-specific forecast information for NEFI members to assist them in planning for delivery and service staff, fuel supplies, and more, in advance of winter weather events. “Right now, we’re providing localized degree day data and broad-brush/storm specific updates, but not site specific for individual members. And, as NEFI members, they would get a discount on any customized programs we develop,” Murley added.

NWF provides services for a wide range of clients, from energy companies and associations, such as NEFI; transportation operations, including the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and Texas Electric Cooperative for Infrastructure; radio stations; schools and corporate facilities. “Just about anybody who has an interest in weather,” says Murley, including film and movie companies that need site-specific forecasting for outdoor on-location productions.


Get to Know Your Friendly Meteorologists

Murley and his partner, Phil Spevak, have more than 50 years of meteorological experience between them. They had worked together for many years, eventually taking over the company when the owner retired. Shortly thereafter, they purchased another company and took that business’ name, National Weather Forecasting, for their venture.

Murley describes himself as “a big fan of ice and snow, living way up in northwestern Maine.” He must be – Rangeley, Maine is one of only “a handful” of towns at over 2000 ft elevation and averages 130 inches of snow a year. It does, however, put him close to two of the biggest ski areas in the state. “I’ve got fiber internet, StarLink back-up, and a generator. I’m never with electricity or internet service.”

According to Murley, Phil Spevak is “the brains of the organization.” Spevak is also a meteorologist, with more than 30 years’ experience, but now manages the business end of the company: accounting, contracts, IT and more. “We have hundreds of clients, human resources management, our employees. My piece is to make sure the work gets done, we’re staffed and the scheduling and operations; Phil handles the business and financing from Syracuse, New York, where our brick-and-mortar office is located,” Murley explains.

Eric Weglarz rounds out the NWF team for NEFI. He is, Murley says, a developer as well as a meteorologist, and “the really smart young man who developed our statistical model and is in charge of maintaining it.” Weglarz had been working as a TV news meteorologist for several years until Murley and Spevak “stole him away,” and got him to work for them from his home base in Manchester, New Hampshire.

For those wondering … the current forecast is for a seasonal, if not colder-than-normal end to winter.

Fleets and Fuel Delivery
November-December 2023
weather forecasts
weather service

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