Research, Technology & Innovation
The global reach of Florida innovations
Forecasting for Farmers
Entrepreneurs ERICA STAEHLING, RYAN TRUCHELUT
Florida, especially at this time of year, is preoccupied with the hurricane outlook. Erica Staehling’s and Ryan Truchelut’s Tallahassee company, WeatherTiger, does its share of hurricane predicting, but their meal ticket is punched by weather forecasting for corn, soybeans and wheat.
The two, who are married, are high academic achievers. Staehling was graduated summa cum laude from Bucknell with a double major in physics and math and then earned a doctorate in atmospheric science from Princeton followed by a master’s in education from Florida State University, where she’s on the faculty for teaching STEM education. She’s been an American Meteorological Society Graduate Fellow and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow. Truchelut is a Florida native who as a teenager got exposed to corn, cotton and wheat futures trading through a friend’s father. He was summa cum laude from Princeton with a bachelor’s in geosciences and took his master’s and doctorate from FSU in meteorology. He’s been a NASA Earth Science Enterprise Fellow and won the Max Mayfield Award in Weather Forecasting from the American Meteorological Society. They have authored scientific papers and have children. Among his hopes for a postpandemic world: “I don’t spend another year primarily arguing with toddlers about whether you should eat Play-Doh off a shoe.”
They founded their two-person company, WeatherTiger, in 2015. Its clients are ag producers, processors, traders, hedge funds, bankers and buyers who need weather forecasts to make decisions about crops. In 2020, WeatherTiger won the top $15,000 prize at Tallahassee’s Innovation Park TechGrant program. The couple put the money toward developing a dashboard for a new algorithm-based product that combines weather information, soil conditions and short- and long-range forecasts to model crop yields down to the county level.
During hurricane season, Truchelut writes weekly for Gannett news media and daily for his Substack newsletter. He increases the frequency of his forecasts when a storm threatens. In June, there was a chance of a tropical storm developing in the far eastern Atlantic. He noted it’s rare to even get a tropical depression in June that far east. “So if a tropical storm were to develop from this, it would be something that has never happened before in history, like adequate parking at Trader Joe’s.”