Yandex company blog

Winter Is Coming: Yandex.Weather Nowcasting Helps Users Plan for Precipitation

15 November, 09:25

Like the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Russia is known for its vast size and wide range of weather. In particular, many people associate Russia with its distinctive harsh winters that last about five months of the year. The coldest stretch of the Russian winter begins in November and extends through March. During these months, temperatures can regularly reach as low as –34°C (–30°F) in Siberia, one of the coldest regions of Russia that also experiences over 1,000 mm of precipitation in some areas. 

With December fast approaching, weather is shifting and Game of Thrones fans know that “Winter is coming.” To better manage the weather in Russia, over 35 million monthly active users rely on Yandex.Weather, Yandex’s hyperlocal, real-time weather forecasting application, for up-to-the-minute weather updates.

Yandex.Weather incorporates machine learning to provide users with a world best precipitation forecast system. Our weather forecasting technology, Yandex.Meteum, produces 43 percent greater accuracy in predicting precipitation and 25 percent more accurate temperature forecasts than competing weather forecasting services.

While traditional weather forecasting models rely on a combination of data models and surface weather observations to predict weather, Yandex.Weather adds deep learning to the equation. When traditional models are incorrect, for example overestimating rainfall during a cyclone, the temperature is corrected manually with surface observations. Yandex.Weather’s technology, on the other hand, replaces the need for surface observations with the use of deep learning. 

Within the last year, we enhanced our precipitation forecasting technology by incorporating nowcasting.  Yandex nowcasting uses radar imagery to forecast changes in weather using a deep learning neural network to handle transformations, transitions and other changes with the latest radar shot. This technology enables forecasting to be done on a minute-to-minute basis with best-in-class accuracy.   Now users can get push notifications that let them know the moment snow is about to stop in their exact location

Highly accurate, near real-time weather forecasting is clearly useful for people experiencing the variety of weather across Russia. But even within individual cities there is still considerable differences in weather that impacts users’ daily plans. Where traditional weather services generalize results by city, Yandex.Weather shows users hyperlocal results down to the city block.

With hyperlocal forecasting, Yandex.Weather users in one neighborhood may use the application to track a brief sleet storm on the weather map, while users just a few blocks away can receive forecasts showing clear skies in their location. 

Below shows such a scenario that played out yesterday near the Chernyshevskaya metro stop in St. Petersburg, where a user viewing our weather map could have used our service and decided to step inside a coffee shop for some tea during the passing sleet. 

Meanwhile, a user closeby at the Nevskiy Prospect metro using Yandex.Weather might have seen that conditions were fair and recognized they had a half hour to run nearby errands before the sleet reached them. 

As users adjust to shifting weather, their plans impact the demand for nearby businesses including our ridesharing service, Yandex.Taxi. Together, the coming stormfront and surging demand for Yandex.Taxi rides show how much the weather and Yandex nowcasting technology can impact users and businesses.  

With the recent introduction of nowcasting, we can now provide communities with an even more advanced machine learning based forecasting tool to help them more easily navigate their days and stay warm during the “Long Night” of winter!