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Posted on Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Weather Underground acquired by The Weather Channel, will keep separate brand and website

By Ben Freed


Weather Underground will continue watching and reporting on the weather at as well as contributing data and content to The Weather Channel and

Melanie Maxwell |

Disclosure: uses Weather Underground as the weather source for our site.

The Weather Channel Companies announced Monday that they have completed an agreement to acquire weather website Weather Underground. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and the process is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. Weather Underground was founded in Ann Arbor in 1995, and still operates an office on North Fifth Avenue with seven employees.

Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground, said the future of the Ann Arbor office is unclear.

“We anticipate we’ll keep it until October 2013 when the lease is up and then we’ll just see what happens,” he said.

“I’m going to continue working for the company as far into the future as I can see. As long as I continue doing what I do I’ll be in Michigan so there will be a Michigan presence.”

Founders launched Wunderground, as it is known to its loyal followers, in 1995 when they claimed as the 2,000th domain name ever registered. Masters wrote on his blog that the Weather Underground team missed registering as by just one month.

The company, a spinoff of a University of Michigan project, took its name from a 1960s radical group that also formed at the University of Michigan.

Wundergound has grown rapidly in the past three years, Masters wrote on his blog,

“We grew from six employees in 1999 to 20 in 2009. But in the past three years, Weather Underground entered into a rapid period of growth that saw our staff more than double to 57 people,” he wrote.

With the rapid growth, came new demands, and Weather Underground needed more resources to keep up.

"Becoming a part of The Weather Channel Companies will enable us to strengthen what our users love about, our apps and our blogs," Weather Underground president Alan Steremberg said.

"We see this as a great opportunity to grow."

Most of Weather Underground’s employees are based in San Francisco, and that office will become a Weather Channel regional office. Masters said the company moved the bulk of its operations from Ann Arbor to San Francisco because of cheaper bandwidth costs in the 1990s.

In a press release, The Weather Channel said that will continue to operate, and its employees will become part of The Weather Channel Companies.

“Weather Underground will add a great complementary, brand to our portfolio, a brand with a distinct, loyal, and active user base that will enable us to reach a unique segment of users," TWCC chairman and CEO David Kenney said in the statement.

"Most importantly, this acquisition will grow the weather expertise that is central to everything we do and will result in better forecasts and weather data for users on all of our platforms."

One of the features Weather Underground will bring to is its network of “Personal Weather Stations.” Wunderground has taught its readers to set up personal weather stations and provided software to put the stations online.

The result has been a network of more than 20,000 weather stations around the world feeding a constant stream of data in to Weather Underground meteorologists. Masters said he expects to see the data from the backyard weather stations on the website as early as the end of this month.

Commenters on Masters’ blog were congratulatory, but often negative about the merger. Many felt that Weather Underground offered a strong alternative to The Weather Channel, and that the acquisition will stifle the “voice” of the website.

“Wow. Not very happy about this. The reason why I love Weather Underground is because it isn't like the Weather Channel. It sticks directly to the science of weather and climate. Now, it'll have a lot of traffic and will be owned by NBC pretty much,” said one commenter with the moniker weatherman566.

“Congratulations, but uhh...I'm worried about the future.”

Both Masters and The Weather Channel said will remain a separate site with its own unique brand and some unique content.

“I can sympathize with their point of view,” Masters said. He wrote in his blog that this is not the first time The Weather Channel has approached the website about a merger.

“However, I will work hard to maintain our identity, and I expect their fears will be unfounded.”

Masters is one of the most popular voices on the Weather Underground website. His specialty is hurricane meteorology and he spent four years with the Hurricane Hunters in Florida. He said he almost died flying into Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Gregory Bryant

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Could it be that the gruesome coverage of every disaster under the sun -- even non-weather related ones -- are on their way? And how about such "nature stories" as "the shark wrestler" that was just on the cover of for a week or more (he actually dragged the small, hooked shark on the beach by its tail just to have a video taken by his buddies). I hope Weather Underground will be allowed to stay the same. (ie... a WEATHER site)


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

probably bye bye to Ann Arbor i'm guessing.

Bob Krzewinski

Thu, Jul 5, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

As an airline pilot, I have come to appreciate clear, concise weather information sources. By far and large, the Weather Underground is one of the best out there. That is at least their "Weather Underground Classic" webpage (to me the regular WU website is really dumbed down). I really hope the WU stays like it is, but I really fear NBC will do to the WU what they did to the Weather Channel, which quite simply is garbarge, focusing more on entertainment than weather. Well, like someone else stated, there always is the National Weather Service who's job it is to inform, not entertain.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

OK. Ann Arbor's own Weather Underground name is derived from Ann Arbor's own Weathermen Underground. A 60's terrorist cell with some UM students in it. That underground bombed the Pentagon and U.S. Capital buildings. The Weather Channel is perhaps now buying the Weather Underground. The Weather Channel was previously bought by NBC and two investment groups - Bain Capital (past CEO Mitt Romney) and Blackstone. These corporations can better profit from the neutral scientific reporting of global climate change as it is now funneled through their mass media.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jul 5, 2012 : 12:20 a.m.

Let's be intellectually honest. Everyone gets their forecast and historical data from NOAA. The rest is just presentation. Start caching data now and we can check next year to see what the Ministry of Truth is altering.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

I, too have noticed some kooky data/forecasts lately on wunderground - things that just didn't make sense or forecasts that were just really wide of the mark. Maybe they've been celebrating the potful of bucks NBC gave them, rather than tending to their tweaking with the weather toys. NBC does seem to have a way of screwing things up. I bet within a year or two the separate branding goes away, too - after all... resistance is futile.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

This is interesting because I have noticed recently that the wunderground forecasts for Ann Arbor (KARB) have been a bit off lately. (Example: they called for a low of 46 degrees the other night. Yeah, right!) I've noticed some other mistakes as well and emailed them about it. I wonder if this has anything to do with this acquisition? The wunderground is always pretty accurate and is my main source for weather. It has been for many years. Not sure I'm too happy about this.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Hopefully, the powers-that-be at the Weather Channel will realize that wunderground offers a niche market -- that maintaining that niche appeal will allow capture of an additional market segment for greater overall saturation and profitability. Do it like GM in the '50's, and let it be its own brand. Please don't do it like GM in the '80's and just rebadge the same stuff. That'll force the core users off to another brand....


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 10:47 a.m.

While I like I'm a much bigger fan of wunderground. I hope the site remains distinct and grows instead of being swallowed.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 5:05 a.m.

Interesting. Please don't change WUnderground too much--I've been a big fan for 10+ years (and I'm only 23). It's easily better than Weather Channel, Accuweather, etc. The local connection and the story behind the name are just bonuses.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

It's the American Way! Develop a great product and sell it. It will either positively influence the market and grow to something that everybody wants or it will fade off into the annals of history. I'm hoping for the former.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 1:33 a.m.

"Commenters on Masters' blog were congratulatory, but often negative about the merger. Many felt that Weather Underground offered a strong alternative to The Weather Channel,"-- That's exactly what I feel while absorbing this not-so-great news. Why is it that "success" these days always involves Dreck-With-Money buying the decent, worthwhile (and generally more precise) competition? People the world over (literally) have become friends on this website: Wunderground invented social media. I always believed Ann Arbor is under represented, generally. When I discovered Weather Underground and actually walked past their (original) office in Ann Arbor, I thought that might be changing. But nooo. I paid for membership and started putting up weather- related photos in my member's gallery - and enjoyed the other members responding to them and rating them, knowing that Ann Arbor was getting a boost in places from Indiana to the India. Well, like the pharmacies and department store and other great places in Ann Arbor, Weather Underground is gone into what may one day be seen as the Great Corporate Underground. Bummer!!


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

I hope they will keep hosting the Wunderground photos. Some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen show up on there. And I enjoy posting mine as well.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

Yes, I love those. I can lose myself for hours just enjoying seeing the world.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

WXQuickie is the best phone/pad application going. Hopefully it won't get wrecked by Looking at both companies software, it's easy to see the passion in Wunderground. Hopefully Jeff and crew made some serious bucks, they deserve it.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

I love Wunderground. I even have their app. I love it much better than The Weather Channel. I hope they can stay separate.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

The iPhone and iPad apps were written here in Ann Arbor. Hopefully that will continue.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

I just loaded the app recently. I can unload just as easy if I feel the need. I hope it doesn't come to that.

Alan Benard

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

Unhappy news. I expect Weather Channel to monetize the heck out of WU and ruin t.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

Very sorry to hear this. is a commercial cluster-mess. Guess I'll go back to the National Weather Service site. At least it's a clean site....junk free.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

I just hope the guy/gal on Charing Cross keeps sending data because he/she is my official temperature gauge.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Absolutely, I like the local data from people close by and not the "official" sites


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

Hopefully the folks at Weather Underground won't have to succumb the weather hype mentality like all the people at The Weather Channel. I understand when there is severe weather you have to warn people but to tout "Storm Stories" and "Tornado Chase 2012" and feed off others misery is the ultimate in hype.