Rumors, gossip and weather innuendo

Yesterday Jason DeRusha sent me an e-mail, “Shelby says you bought the Weather Channel. True?” Then Amy Gustafson called from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, asking the same thing, “there’s a rumor swirling that you bought the Weather Channel. What’s up with that?” For the record: I’m honored that someone (even my dear friend Don Shelby, or “The Donald”, as I fondly refer to him) could surmise that I had the wherewithal to cough up a few billion (with a b) dollars to purchase the Atlanta-based weather monopoly. Last year NBC/Universal purchased the cable Weather Channel and weather.com for a cool $5 billion, give or take.

My newest company, WeatherNation LLC, purchased a different, Atlanta-based weather company earlier this year: Ham Weather. Click here to see why we got so excited; terrific graphics, our own data, direct from NOAA, and some amazing developers and programmers who are just as excited about meteorology as we are. BTW, WeatherNation’s main web site is here. I’m a little biased, but I think we’ve come a long way in 1 year. We’re building 2 more HD weather studios, we have 6 remarkable on-air meteorologists, two of them are bilingual (English and Spanish). Our newest hire, Denise Isaac hails from Panama. Susie Martin was born in Costa Rica – I feel lucky and blessed to be working with the two of them, as well as Todd Nelson and Gretchen Mishek (both Minnesota natives) and Kristin Clark, who came to us from Colorado Springs (and whose parents are both veteran TV meteorologists at the same station in Pennsylvania – I went to college with both of them). I know, small world. But I still wouldn’t want to clean it.

Severe Weather Update from Ham Weather, a WeatherNation company. Frost advisories are posted through the early morning hours for most of central and southern Minnesota, Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. A freeze warning (implying at least 3-4 hours of temperatures colder than 28 F. is in effect for northeastern MN and northern Wisconsin).

For the record, I sold a company to Garmin back in early 2007. Digital Cyclone is still going strong in Minnetonka – some of my best friends on the planet are still working there, growing the company, which specializes in subscription weather on cell phones. Last year they were the only division of Garmin to show actual revenue growth! I’m proud of my old team, yes, and thankful for good timing. Had I not sold DCI to Garmin I would now be living in a van down by the river, close to where Chris Farley had his rig. It would be a nice van, complete with DirecTV and wireless internet, but I’m grateful that things worked out the way they did, in light of WCCO-TV’s desire to cut costs and set me free. What’s the right word? “Right-sizing?” A few years from now I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to look back and say “aha, that’s why my career took a drastic turn.” For now I have my hands full with WeatherNation and Singular Logic (our attempt to rid the world of unwanted Cialis ads – allowing consumers to choose the preferences of ads they’re willing to watch). We pick all the content we want to see – only makes sense that someday soon we’ll be choosing the advertisements, too.

Disclaimer: I did NOT invent Doppler Radar. I did launch 3-D weather graphics on KARE-11 back in 1991, a company called EarthWatch, which was also a lot of fun (when I wasn’t on the verge of a nervous breakdown). Starting a company is equal parts misery and euphoria, but it’s in my blood. I love it, especially the early stages: dreaming up the idea, getting the initial team together, proving the business model, and God-willing, generating some revenue to keep the wheels from coming off the bus. It’s never been easier to start a company. The Internet really has leveled the playing field tremendously. If you have a great idea, a true niche, and you can find a handful of great people who believe just as passionately as you do, it’s now possible to create something amazing in your guest bedroom (working in your underwear, if you so choose). Today it’s not about seed money or who you know – it’s about the power of your idea and speed to market. The one thing your competitors can’t copy or clone is creativity and innovation. Americans have always been good at this game, and when I talk to groups of all sizes I encourage people to consider starting a company. The old saying was “everyone has at least one good book in them.” I’ve modified that into “everyone has at least one great start-up business in them.” Today, more than ever, you can’t rely on an employer to look out after you (I found that out the hard way). You have to depend on yourself, your own wits and gut instincts. Without going on a political rant, I only wish some of that stimulus money – the bucks that went to Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, could have gone to small businesses, start-ups, which really are the lifeblood of American business. Enough said.

I’m helping my son launch a music-related web site, and my wife (an AIA architect) has a great idea for a local, Minnesota-centric web site for people hoping to build or renovate a home. I’m helping them out as best I can, and I’m happy to put in my two cents if you have an idea you want to run past me (happy to sign an NDA or non-disclosure – I’m not going to steal your idea…I honestly want to encourage and help as many other aspiring entrepreneurs as possible in the coming years). If I can help you out with a business concept drop me a line at pdouglas@weathernation.net. I can’t help out with seed money (believe me, all my money is tied up in the 3 businesses I’m currently starting up) but I’m happy to lend an ear, give you an opinion, maybe offer up a bit of encouragement.

Where was I? Oh yeah – the weather! It’s frosty out there – you’ll need a few extra minutes to defrost the car, the kids will need a heavier jacket at the bus stop. The frost is coming about a week earlier than usual, give or take, but this does NOT mean the winter will be longer or harsher than usual. Think of this as atmospheric payback for 3 amazing, lukewarm weeks in a row earlier this month. Deep down we all knew the other shoe (boot) would eventually drop.

WRF-NMM Model Outlook valid 7 am Friday morning. This graphic shows predicted rainfall between 1 am and 7 am Friday morning, with some heavier, 1″+ amounts predicted for much of central and southern Minnesota, some badly needed rain may be 36-48 hours away. The latest model is predicting a total of 1.2″ of rain from Thursday into early Saturday morning. Let’s hope the models are right (for a change).

GFS Outlook valid Saturday evening at 7 pm. Our late-week storm is forecast to be centered over Michigan, tracking steadily east, meaning your outdoor weekend plans are probably not in grave peril. We may wake up to some puddles Saturday morning, but the vast majority of the weekend should be dry, and seasonably cool for this time of year.



Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Frosty start. Bright sun gives way to increasing high clouds by late afternoon. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 61

Tonight: Clouds lower and thicken, not as chilly. Low: 45

Thursday: Showers develop, possible thunder. High: 57

Friday: Periods of rain, heavy at times. High: 56

Saturday: Damp start, then partly sunny and pleasantly cool. High: 58

Sunday: Plenty of sun, cooler than average, but not bad at all. High: near 60

Monday: More clouds, showers arrive by PM hours. High: 58

Tuesday: Unsettled, another shower or two. high: 56

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, a shower or two – chilly enough for a few flurries far north? High: near 52

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