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Tomorrow.io's flood forecasting interface. Screenshot: Tomorrow.io

Tomorrow.io, the fast-growing weather and climate intelligence provider, unveiled Thursday a flood risk index for its data platform. The goal is to help cities, companies and others better prepare for extreme precipitation events.

Why it matters: The new product, first revealed by Axios, arrives following devastating flooding from Hurricane Ida, which left dozens dead in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York last week.

Driving the news: The new forecasting tool is being released as climate scientists express more confidence in the link between extreme precipitation events, which can cause damaging flooding and human-caused global warming.

Details: According to the company, the flood risk index uses both publicly accessible and in-house hydrologic models, along with historical data on runoff and streamflow to identify the risk of river and urban flooding up to five days in advance at any spot on the globe.

  • The model and weather intelligence platform — you can think of its function as a weather and climate version of a Bloomberg terminal — is designed to alert designated personnel at a company or city-level if the risk of flooding exceeds certain criteria.
  • It can also recommend that they take particular pre-selected actions, such as closing floodgates to protect city infrastructure, preparing an emergency alert message and others.

Yes, but: Flood forecasting, particularly five days ahead of time, is extremely complex. It involves variables ranging from instantaneous rainfall rates to data on preceding precipitation to determine how much new water the ground can absorb.

  • There are also established, more focused competitors in the field of flood monitoring, modeling and forecasting, such as Fathom and the nonprofit First Street Foundation, though some are dedicated more to catastrophe risk management.

Between the lines: Tomorrow.io is a well-funded, brash upstart in the weather business, with a vision that now extends into space. It counts among its customers Uber, United, Delta and National Grid.

  • The company plans to launch a constellation of more than two-dozen radar-carrying satellites beginning late next year, which it claims could revolutionize forecasting for the billions of people who live outside of ground-based radar coverage, mainly in developing nations.
  • On Tuesday, Tomorrow.io, also revealed it was selected as a subcontractor on a project aimed at helping the U.S. stay competitive in the field of weather computer modeling, via a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Raytheon.
  • The company's role will be to help build a cloud-based Earth modeling system for the new public-private Earth Prediction and Innovation Center.

Go deeper

Oct 12, 2021 - Science

Weather and climate disasters have cost the U.S. over $100 billion in 2021

Piles of debris is all that's left of a restaurant after heavy rain from remnants of Hurricane Ida came through in Manville, New Jersey, on Sept. 7. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Weather and climate disasters in 2021 have killed 538 people in the U.S. and cost over $100 billion, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: The first nine months of 2021 saw the largest number of billion-dollar disasters in a calendar year so far, with 2021 on pace for second behind 2020, per the report.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

White House vows to treat climate change as "systemic" financial risk

Zailey Segura, Zavery Segura and their mother Karen Smith wade through flood waters while walking to the childrens fathers house after Hurricane Nicholas landed in Galveston, Texas on September 14, 2021. Photo: Mark Felix for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A new White House report released Friday morning says climate change poses "systemic risks" to the U.S. financial system, and presents a "roadmap" to building a "climate-resilient" economy.

Why it matters: Top aides emphasized that framing to promote wide-ranging moves that will weave climate risk into many agencies' new policies and regulations.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Mapping repression in China's Xinjiang region

Data: © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap; Map: Will Chase/Axios

A sweeping new report released today by an Australian research organization reveals new details about how the Chinese Communist Party — and specifically who within the party — is carrying out its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: Uncovering the actual offices and individuals implementing the Chinese government's genocide and forced labor policies in Xinjiang can bring accountability and help international companies delink supply chains in compliance with U.S. and EU forced labor laws.