By Quentin Fottrell
The iPhone can’t control the weather, but a 99-cent app purports to take most of the guesswork out of planning weddings, ski trips, and other shopping decisions.
Available on iOS, and in the Android store starting Nov. 23th, the WeatherTrends360 app uses a team of meteorologists, climatologists and mathematicians to help people plan for good and bad weather, says CEO Bill Kirk, a former United States Air Force Captain. The website is free. He claims his company can predict the weather with 80% accuracy up to a year in advance.
WeatherTrend360’s main business is helping retailers control their inventory, and clients include Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s and Coca-Cola. The consumer app offers to help shoppers decide when is best to buy goods at the best prices. Forrester Research gives it 80% accuracy, which sounds impressive, but keep in mind that means the information could be wrong once every five days.
However, some experts believe the app is probably better used for entertainment purposes only. “I don’t think people will plan any major events around what this application does,” says Andy Nyquist, personal finance and investment blogger. “It may make them more comfortable about the choices that they do make in relation to weddings and trips. But people are more likely to enjoy the entertainment factor from the application as well as using the shorter term weather forecasts.”
Pay Dirt spoke to Capt. Kirk about the new app.
Pay Dirt: We have written about the best days of the week to buy certain goods. When is the best month to buy my winter woolies?
Captain Kirk: Late November will be cool, but we are expecting a mild December and early January. December is a peak sales month, so if you can hold out until then you will save money. It will be worth it because we are going to have a brutal March.
What do you regard as “mild”?
In New York, December will be in the high 40s and 50-degree Fahrenheit rather than the mid-30s.
Should I take a trip to Portland, Ore. during the holidays?
The Pacific North West will have a horrific winter. Hold off on buying that plane ticket – unless you plan on skiing.
For those who want to be a June bride. Should they opt for an outdoor wedding?
If you had to pick a Saturday in New York June, the 9th or 23rd are your best bet. Otherwise, June looks like it will be a little wet.
You say you helped predict a dry day for a client’s wedding last year?
Yes, it was in Austin, Texas in October 2010. He was over-budget and asked if he should spend $10,000 on a tent for his 500 guests. I said, “Save your money.” I still have that day circled in my diary. I was sweating. It didn’t rain. But I’m not perfect. I’ll either make 8 out of 10 brides happy or two bridezillas.
Any other tips before the winter settles in?
With every degree colder, our research shows that sales of electric blankets rise 5%, soup sales increase 2%, gloves go up 13% and portable heaters rise 15%. Early planning for those items is essential. The sales of mousetraps go up 25% as the temperature gets one degree colder.
Yes, buy now, because after Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 12th winter will come with a vengeance.