In a King Street office, a crew of five monitors weather patterns around the world. They comprise London-based Speedwell Weather’s United States operations, which relocated from Virginia to Charleston in 2011. Just as an auto insurance company calculates the chance that a 25-year-old woman with a red sports car will get into an accident, Speedwell deals in the likelihood of rain, snow, and sunshine—or rather, it helps other companies evaluate the effect weather will have on their bottom lines.
Speedwell starts by gathering the highest-quality weather observations from National Meteorological Services around the globe. Then its meteorologists crunch numbers to provide sets of data and forecasts, as well as software and consultancy, to international clients such as energy companies, banks, and commodity traders.
“Most of the major companies involved in weather risk management are using our products,” says Speedwell’s director of U.S. operations, David Whitehead. In fact, Environmental Finance, a publication covering how the environment effects the global economy, has named Speedwell the best advisory/data provider in the world for the past three years.
So, why set up shop in Charleston? The lovely weather, of course, says Whitehead—plus the architecture and beaches.
A glimpse into the industries in which Speedwell works:
• Agriculture: Crops fail in times of drought or flood, so farmers insure against a season with too much or little rain.
• Energy: People use less energy in moderate temperatures, so power companies prepare for losses in cool summers and warm winters.
• Tourism: Event planners and booking companies can purchase insurance to sweeten the deal for travelers by offering inclement weather refunds.
• Business promotions: A store might offer free jewelry if it snows on Christmas in Charleston after a broker takes out an insurance policy.
Learn more about Speedwell at www.speedwellweather.com.