Instant weather forecasts to be delivered via text message

With the help of forecasts made by the Atmospheric Science Club, UM students and faculty members will soon be able to deal with Miami’s unpredictable weather conditions through text messages every day, rain or shine.

While the Atmospheric Science Club shares its weather predictions on Twitter – @UMCampusCast – marketing chair Joe Kleiman came to Student Government (SG) with the idea of expanding the initiative to a broader community.

“The goal is for these texts to go out in the mornings, so that students get the alerts before they go to class in the mornings so they’re prepared,” Kleiman said.

The weather text system should be presented to students in its full form by the start of the fall 2012 semester, SG Executive-at-Large Internal Michaela Hennessy said.

Kleiman and the club’s president, Sean Mason, compile the Twitter forecasts from data on weather websites.

Other meteorology majors in the Atmospheric Science Club will do weekly rotations once the forecasts are extended to campus-wide text messages.

The forecasts are tailored to the UM community, Kleiman said. During football season, the club will give a tailgate forecast and a game-time forecast in addition to the usual morning prediction.

When SG brought the plan to the Information Technology (IT) Department, William Vilberg, associate director of the Instructional Advancement Center, coordinated the initiative.

He brought in a UM student to write the program code.

Robert Rankin, a junior majoring in biology and philosophy who taught himself computer programming, completed the code for the program that will send out the messages.

The program adds phone numbers to a database that will send the users a text message each morning with the UMCampusCast.

“We’ve determined that the sign up will be a lone Web page that is already mostly functional,” Kleiman said.

The project has been approved to receive the funds necessary to pay for the Web page’s server space, according to Kleiman.