How Yandex Brings Nowcasting to Russians from Coast to Coast with Yandex.Weather
Knowing the weather forecast is a central part of our daily lives. The weather can affect how we dress for the day and if we walk to work or hail a taxi, for example. At Yandex, we appreciate that having an accurate weather forecast is critical to navigating daily routines. That’s why we developed our own weather forecasting tech, Meteum, which has enabled Yandex.Weather to be the first and only service in Russia to feature nowcasting in weather predictions. Today, we’re excited to announce that, after adding data from a second satellite, nowcasting is now available for nearly all 53 million monthly Yandex.Weather users in Russia, expanding from its initial rollout in European Russia.
When we set out to create an intelligent weather service, we realized it was an excellent opportunity to apply our machine learning expertise to something that people depend on every day, especially as Russian users lacked an accurate, intuitive weather service. Yandex.Weather incorporates deep learning AI technologies to provide users with reliable weather reports. Our Meteum tech, the backbone of Yandex.Weather, combines traditional weather models with machine learning to produce highly accurate weather predictions. Our weather service became even more precise in 2017 after we introduced hyperlocal nowcasting, providing minute-by-minute precipitation predictions within a two-hour window based on a user’s location.
We’ve also continued to improve how people can access Yandex.Weather and ensure it is always available in the most convenient ways possible. Over the past few years, as the Yandex ecosystem of products and services has grown, Yandex.Weather has grown with it. One of the most popular uses of Yandex.Weather is through the Yandex app, which offers a fluid user-experience across our various services, including localized weather notifications so our users can plan accordingly. We’ve also integrated Yandex.Weather with our intelligent assistant, Alice. Users can ask their Alice-equipped devices about the forecast, whether they are on the go or at home. Alice shares weather updates to users on their phones, laptops, connected cars, and smart speakers.
Alice is asked what the weather is in Moscow
With the expansion of nowcasting, our users in locations from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean can now receive hyperlocal weather updates through a variety of Yandex products. Fishers in Vladivostok can see notifications informing them of any precipitation coming in the next couple hours, while users in Yakutsk, one of the coldest cities on Earth, can ask Alice just how many layers they should wear before heading outside. Below, a Yandex.Weather user in downtown Yakutsk can see that on this relatively mild day they can head out with just a raincoat, or wait out the rain for half an hour.
We’re able to offer nowcasting to a greater number of Yandex.Weather users now that we have access to data from a second satellite, the Himawari-8. Previously, one stationary weather satellite, the Meteosat-8 over East Africa, provided the data for Yandex.Weather’s nowcasting. The Himawari-8’s position over New Guinea provides Meteum with weather data from a larger area that Meteosat-8 doesn’t cover. As a result, Yandex.Weather users in Siberia and the Russian Far East now have hyperlocal nowcasting for the first time. Thanks to the positioning of the satellites, Yandex.Weather can even provide users with nowcasting for a wide variety of locations outside our primary market of Russia, stretching from London to Shanghai. In the future, Yandex.Weather engineers plan to pull data from a diverse range of weather satellites so the service’s nowcasting can be offered to users wherever they may be in the world.
While our users east of the Ural Mountains now have access to minute-by-minute forecasting throughout the Yandex ecosystem, they’ve long been able to use Yandex.Weather for Russia’s most accurate hourly and daily weather predictions. When comparing weather predictions in Russia to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Yandex.Weather is up to 42% more accurate in predicting hourly precipitation, and up to 28% more accurate when predicting the 10-day temperature forecast.
Accurate weather forecasts are not only vital to how our users’ plan their daily routines but can also influence how they interact with various Yandex services. We will continue to innovate our weather service for users and explore new ways to incorporate Yandex.Weather’s forecasting throughout our ecosystem.