Replacing the Free Site with Free Trials

To our visitors, fans, supporters, and customers:

When we first broke ground on Stormpulse.com, Brad and I were just a couple of fresh-faced entrepreneurs attempting to create something amazing.  Five years, 61 million visits, and 17 million visitors later, we can look at this work of two founders and a handful of amazing contributors and feel a real sense of accomplishment for having come this far.

But of course, we can’t stop there.  We now have a growing list of customers and prospects that want us to keep pushing our service forward.  Alongside this rising mountain of feature requests, we also have an expanding vision for weather mapping and alerting that can transform the way people manage their operations before, during, and after weather that impacts their business.

As a bootstrapped company on the web, keeping up with these demands means continually reviewing and revising our business.  One of the biggest questions that we’ve faced since Day One is how much to give away for free.  Give away too little and we may fail to grab the attention of new visitors that share the site with friends and colleagues through word-of-mouth.  Give away too much and we risk treading water and disappointing, rather than growing and improving the service for our customers.

Over the years, we’ve tried balancing these concerns by experimenting with advertising (which unfortunately makes the experience worse and worse), consumer subscriptions, business subscriptions, and larger enterprise sales and business development.

In the end, I believe we’ve learned that maintaining a completely free site isn’t sustainable, nor is it in the best interest of the people that benefit the most from our service.  Some of the world’s most important missions are using Stormpulse every day, from U.S. military bases to manufacturing facilities to transportation and shipping and energy companies.  We want to continue serving these missions to the fullest extent of our abilities.

To succeed at this, we have to have a laser-like focus.  And so, after serving up over 120 million pageviews, we’ve decided to replace the free site with free trials.  Beginning in April, visitors will be asked to sign up for a free trial and then decide if they are going to continue using the site for a yearly subscription, or whether they will instead use one of the many free sites available on the web.  Plans will start with individual subscriptions, with additional tiers of service for businesses that need to add geographic data to the platform or take advantage of our rules-based, customizable weather alerting.

Many people have asked us why we can’t also have a consumer subscription.  As our support and development teams grow, splitting our attention may become practical.  For now, we’re choosing to focus on the needs of leaders inside operations centers, corporate security teams, and supply chains, all of which can be greatly affected by the weather.

We’re looking forward to a bright future of continuing to improve our service, which so many have come to know and love and expect to remain the best on the market.  We’ve got some incredible ideas waiting up our sleeves.

We’ll be sharing updates in the coming days on the new plans and pricing that will be a part of this change (hint: they’re a lot simpler and better than ever before) (Update, 4/4/12: Here they are, as well as free trials).  As we go through this transition, we’d like to hear from you (as always).  You can share your thoughts with us at: feedback@stormpulse.com.

Many thanks from this Florida native,

Matthew Wensing

Co-founder, Stormpulse

Introducing probability-based alerts: Fully customizable email and text notifications for enterprise customers

We are very excited to introduce a powerful new tool to help our enterprise customers reduce the daily and long-term risks posed by significant weather events: Fully customizable probability-based alerts.

Perhaps you’ve already noticed the new series of ads we’ve been running on the site, such as the one to the left, with examples of the type of customization offered by our new alerting system.

As hinted at in these ads, our new probability-based alerts allow enterprise customers to set up notifications – via email or text message, and soon by phone call – that are customizable by both the specific type of severe weather event in which you’re interested (rain, hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes) and the percentage chance of that event affecting any location in the continental United States.

To see what Stormpulse’s weather alerting capabilities can do for your company, request a free trial using this form.

Together with our fully configurable enterprise plan, which allows you to select precisely the number of alert recipients and locations to track, our alerting system delivers relevant weather intelligence directly to the people in your company who need it most. This reduces false alarms and allows you to focus on taking proactive steps to prepare for a specific severe weather event before it strikes, rather than reacting once it is already under way.

For more information on how your company can benefit from weather alerting, download our whitepaper, “What’s the real value of an alert? How to use weather alerts.” (PDF)

And don’t forget to request your free trial today.

Introducing free trials for enterprise plans

In the two months since we launched our fully configurable plans for enterprise customers, we’ve been encouraged by the number, enthusiasm, and diversity of organizations that have chosen to incorporate the power of Stormpulse’s instant weather intelligence into their operations.

To help even more companies discover how Stormpulse can streamline their weather-based decisions, today we’re happy to announce the introduction of free trials for potential enterprise edition customers.

If you’re interested in adding Stormpulse’s severe weather alerting capabilities and unrivaled mapping technology to your company’s workflow, we encourage you to fill out our brief free trial request form. It takes less than a minute, and we’ll contact you within 24 hours.

(Please note that if you already have a Stormpulse account, you’ll need to sign out of the site before visiting the free trial request form page.)

For more information on how your company can benefit from weather alerting, you can download our new whitepaper, “What’s the real value of an alert? How to use weather alerts.” (PDF)

And to read about how a Fortune 500 company saved precious minutes and avoided a costly mistake thanks to the clarity of the Stormpulse map, download our brochure. (PDF)

From emergency management agencies to heavy manufacturers, from global energy companies to insurance firms, enterprises of all shapes, sizes, and missions are discovering that Stormpulse enables them to automatically gather and share key insights with no weather expertise required.

If you’re interested in joining the growing number of organizations that are reaping the value of Stormpulse’s instant weather intelligence, request your free trial today.

Live weather data & video on Stormpulse during US landfalls in 2011

This is a guest post by Mark Sudduth, owner and operator of HurricaneTrack.com.

I am pleased to announce that HurricaneTrack.com is partnering with Stormpulse beginning today. The partnership will mean an incredible hurricane tracking experience for both of our audiences. I met with Stormpulse co-founder Matt Wensing a couple of weeks ago in Florida. We talked about some ideas that grew in to even bigger ideas and before we knew it, we had hatched a plan that will revolutionize hurricane tracking. Our plan is to combine the ultra-modern look of the Stormpulse brand with the educational, informative and live data aspects of HurricaneTrack.com. It is no secret that our Java maps are showing their age. Five or six years ago, they were cutting edge, now they are dated and were in need of a complete re-design. Instead of doing that, we have decided to add a custom Stormpulse tracking map to our homepage (as seen below). The map’s functionality will evolve over time but it will give our visitors instant access to a live hurricane tracking map from the moment an “invest” is activated by the National Hurricane Center.

Stormpulse and its related tracking maps have quickly become famous the world over. Utilized by millions of people from business, industry, government agencies and of course the avid hurricane tracker, there is no mistaking a Stormpulse tracking map. We are honored to have the privilege of providing the Stormpulse brand to our visitors. In fact, we will develop special features for our version of the tracking map not found anywhere else.

As for our contribution to Stormpulse, we will develop high resolution digital data and live video streams for Stormpulse clients. The data will be plotted on Stormpulse maps generated for specific needs of their clients- ranging from personal use to large corporate and government decision making entities. The long term goal is to blanket a region with dozens of instrumented towers to provide unprecedented live data and video streams on a level never before available. This partnership will help to facilitate that goal.

Matt had this to say regarding the new partnership:

“Mark’s proven delivery of accurate, real-time storm data and video feeds during landfalls makes the HurricaneTrack team an excellent extension to the Stormpulse platform. Working together is an obvious and natural fit which will allow us to demonstrate what can be done when you bring together the right expertise.”

Today’s announcement is only the beginning to what we both see as an enormous opportunity to serve both of our user bases with the best tools available. The entire HurricaneTrack.com team looks forward to pushing the limits of what we can do with the power of Stormpulse on our side.

Enterprise plans for any number of users and alert locations

Since launching Stormpulse Pro in the summer of 2009, we’ve continued to evolve the product to make it the best storm-tracking subscription on the web.

This morning we’re taking Stormpulse’s instant weather intelligence one step farther by giving you the power to choose the exact number of users and alert locations you need, rather than forcing you to choose between tiers of service that were either too little or too big for your needs.

We encourage you to please take a moment and visit our new configurable plans page.  There are many places to get weather information, but Stormpulse is now offering the most consolidated, transparent and customizable way to get your team going in minutes.

Need a quote for your budget? After typing in the number of users and alert locations you want, just click the ‘Quote’ link next to the ‘Select’ button for a personalized PDF describing your custom plan and rates.

Need to explain Stormpulse to your co-workers? Download the new Stormpulse brochure (pdf), which includes the story of how a Fortune 500 company saved time and avoided a costly mistake by watching Stormpulse.

What’s coming in 2011? Over the next few weeks we will continue to unveil our plans for 2011, including mobile apps, real-time weather data and video during U.S. landfalls, text alerts for your mobile phone, and chance alerts, so you can get an update when there’s a specific chance of severe weather at any of your alert locations.

Here’s to the close of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season (despite the low-potential disturbance currently churning in the south Caribbean) and a very Merry Christmas.

Monthly traffic limit for free Stormpulse API users

Since introducing the Stormpulse API in July 2008, our tracking map has been embedded in over 1,000 websites and viewed tens of millions of times. We’d like to thank you if you’ve been a part of our free API program, to which we owe much of the credit for getting Stormpulse into the hands of the site’s fans.

Since that time, we’ve added more features and made Stormpulse into a more reliable service for thousands of businesses and emergency operations personnel worldwide. Maintaining the reliability of our website and API service is central to being useful during critical times, as our customers have grown to depend on us for the best visualizations of storm data on the web.

It’s become apparent during the first half of the 2010 hurricane season that we cannot maintain the reliability of our service while continuing to provide a free, unlimited traffic version of our embeddable maps. The immense number of requests to our free maps places a significant strain on the service for everyone.

As such, we are discontinuing the unlimited traffic aspect of the free API. Beginning Monday, September 6th (Labor Day), all sites using the free version of our maps will be limited to 50,000 requests per month. Once this limit is reached, your API key may be deactivated for the rest of the calendar month.

Those that expect higher traffic are encouraged to sign up for Stormpulse Maps Pro, which allows for unlimited traffic on a pay-per-use basis.

Thanks for your feedback as we transition into this new phase of Stormpulse.

Stormpulse Maps Pro: the oil spill & more

Since we launched Stormpulse Pro last November, we’ve received a steady flow of requests for these premium features to become available on our affiliate/Stormpulse API maps.  In response to this demand, we’ve launched Stormpulse Maps Pro. (NOTE: If you’ve already got a Stormpulse account (free or Pro), you’ll need to sign out of that account before you can sign up for Stormpulse Maps).

These premium maps accounts take our free maps to the next level by offering:

  • New! Gulf oil spill. Engage your visitors with the only interactive weather maps on the web with detailed plotting of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site and 24-hour forecast from the NOAA updated daily.  You can check out this feature on our maps at Stormpulse.com.
Deepwater Horizon site & Gulf oil spill

Deepwater Horizon site & Gulf oil spill

  • No upsells or advertising. To help ensure your audience stays on your site, ads and upgrade links are never displayed on a premium affiliate map.
  • Super-resolution radar loops. Bright colors and fine-grained details draw your visitor’s attention to the most important features of each storm. Powered by “Level 2″ data from the National Weather Service, this is the highest resolution radar available on the web.
  • Tropical watches and warnings. Inform your audience of the threat to coastal areas as the storm approaches land.

As with our free maps, you can also toggle layers and add customer markers using the Stormpulse Maps JavaScript API, which we’ve designed to be familiar to anyone with Google Maps experience.

Keep the requests coming …

Weather maps for emergency operations and planners

“The most detailed, easy to navigate, fully-featured tracking site I have seen.” Evan, Dept. of Homeland Security

During the 2008 and 2009 Atlantic hurricane seasons, thousands of decision-makers from Fortune 500 executives to local marina managers used Stormpulse to visualize the impending dangers and coordinate their efforts.  Since then, we’ve received hundreds of emails from these “power users” asking for more.  To better serve these customers, on June 1, 2010, we launched a new series of plans focused on the needs of emergency operations and disaster response teams.

In addition to all of the features available with our base-level Stormpulse Pro plan, these plans include the ability to add additional users to your Stormpulse Pro account, severe weather alerts for up to an unlimited number of custom locations, coastline highlighting for tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings, and a wind probabilities layer which provides an excellent visual interpretation of the National Hurricane Center’s wind speed forecasts.

What other features can you expect in 2010? How about wind probability alerts, storm surge alerts, and an enhanced version of our popular forecast models layer? With the ocean heat content rising, we’re also considering the addition of a sea-surface temperatures layer. Your feedback is appreciated!

You can read more about these plans and see an overview of key features by going to our Emergency Operations products page. You can also fill out this form if you’d like to schedule a demo for your company or team. We’d be happy to discuss your team’s specific needs.

P.S. Here’s a video on YouTube that shows Stormpulse in action at the Harris County Office of Emergency Management.  This county includes the city of Houston and is responsible for an area larger than Rhode Island.  Look for Stormpulse on the projectors at 0:04 and 0:10 seconds into the clip.

Add markers to weather maps with the Stormpulse API

You can now add your own location data to any Stormpulse map embedded on your site.  To learn how, read our updated API documentation, or watch these video tutorials.

NOTE: This functionality is available to all API users until June 1, 2010.  On June 1, 2010, certain restrictions may apply to API users embedding the map on media (mass audience) sites and API users embedding the map on corporate intranet portals.

Just another small step towards opening up our maps to the rest of the world.  We look forward to adding new functions, objects, and data sets to the library.

If you would like to sign up for an API key (free), you should go to this page on our site.

Locality, beauty, and speed: major updates to Stormpulse

Now with city-level coverage for thousands of U.S. locations and ZIP codes

We’ve spent the last four months working on an update to make Stormpulse.com more local, more beautiful, and faster.  And as of this morning, you can go and see for yourself.

Major highlights:

  • Home page attempts to geo-locate and route you to a local weather page.
  • Current conditions box shows current temperature, conditions, and winds.
  • Forecast box shows high and low temperature and an hour-by-hour summary for the next three days.
  • Map imagery with a resolution of 500 m/pixel–four times greater than our previous maps (so you zoom in four times closer).
  • Speed boost: the map only loads the severe weather information it needs for your current view (no loading or rendering data needlessly).
  • Map enhancements–clearer labeling and more beautiful terrain.

Those are the big items.  Other items we get excited about:

  • When viewed with an iPhone, the weather information is displayed in a friendly, readable fashion (and more mobile support coming soon).
  • The ‘Share Map‘ feature now works for U.S. Severe Weather and allows you to share down to the plotpoint for a storm.  For example, a close-up view of Katrina bearing down on NOLA.  This will work for forecast positions during an active storm as well.
  • Improved color scheme for severe weather alerts.  In our first attempt at severe weather coverage, we adopted the National Weather Service’s colors entirely.  Since then, we’ve seen a few big storms come and go, and a lot of winter storms come and go, and we’ve adjusted our colors to improve visibility on the critical alerts, and quiet down the less important ones.
  • Simplified site navigation bar.  Fewer choices with an expandable button at the end means less confusion, we believe.
  • Intelligent expanding and contracting of weather info boxes in the left column.  We are big believers in only showing what matters and hiding the rest.  We’ve tried to make some smart decisions about what to hide and what to show by default.  Tell us if you disagree!

Since so much of this is visual, I thought I’d include a few more screenshots that do this update justice.

A Winter Storm Watch in Hartford, CT:

Wintry weather in … Texas?!  Yep.

As always, we looking forward to hearing what you think.

The Stormpulse Team

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