Selling Umbrellas? Check The Web Forecast

FOR SOME PEOPLE, AN ACCURATE local weather forecast means more than just deciding whether to carry an umbrella or smear on suntan lotion. For retail sales managers, weather patterns can make or break a sales period. Last May, for example, retail sales were down nearly 1% because of an unusually cool month. Looking ahead, would retail outlets be wise to stock up on air conditioners this summer? If so, where are the likely "hot spots"? AccuWeather Inc., long known for its weather forecasting, wants to tailor its data to individual customers' needs.

The weather service is testing a Web site called Your Personal AccuWeather that provides forecast information for the area you request. Each personalized page features a 10-day forecast, local and national weather maps, and Doppler radar and satellite pictures--just like the ones TV forecasters use. AccuWeather also will provide historical weather data, so savvy weather watchers can try to glean what the weather might be by watching past patterns. The site,, is free for now, but AccuWeather expects to charge a monthly fee.

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