Weather intelligence startup Skyfora, which is based in Helsinki, Finland, has developed an artificial intelligence powered tropical storm intensity forecasts tool, which it believes can give insurance, reinsurance and ILS market participants enhanced insights into potential hurricane landfall impacts.
Alongside its forecasts for hurricane and tropical storm intensity, Skyfora has also developed its own ultra-lightweight weather sonde, the StreamSonde.
These measurement sondes float freely with the winds of the atmosphere after a launch from an aircraft, balloon or drone and send back granular data that will enhance the forecast tools Skyfora has developed and is developing.
High-resolution data from the StreamSonde feeds numerical weather predictions and artificial intelligence-powered weather and hurricane forecasts, such as Skyfora’s own Tropical Storm Tracker product.
Skyfora recognises that accurate data is required to minimize losses from tropical storms and hurricanes, both in enabling preparedness and response, but also in structuring and calibrating insurance, reinsurance or insurance-linked security (ILS) financial risk management tools.
Its Tropical Storm Tracker makes use of the full resolution of satellite images in providing its forecasts for tropical storms with extremely high accuracy.
The StreamSonde is the lightest and most sustainable weather sonde on the market, the company believes, and Skyfora also says it provides the greatest level of detail of any available.
Combined, Skyfora believes these challenge what we expect in terms of accuracy from weather forecasts, promising to deliver a much more granular and accurate view of tropical storm and hurricane intensity as they approach landfall and from a number of days out.
For the insurance-linked securities (ILS) market, directional and intensity forecasts, as well as footprint predictions for tropical storms and hurricanes are critical in making preparations, putting in place last minute hedging, or in trading instruments such as catastrophe bonds as a storm approaches.
Live cat trading is never particularly liquid, although demand is often seen. The lack of accuracy of some existing forecasts is one of the reasons for this, as it makes it hard to commit to purchasing last minute reinsurance or retrocessional protection.
So any improvement in the forecasts for landfall locations, hurricane size, direction of travel, wind speeds and how far the most damaging winds reach from the center, are all extremely valuable inputs to ILS fund and reinsurance company decision-making during the hurricane season.
“Working with us, weather measurement institutions, weather stations and atmospheric researchers can measure weather more precisely while reducing the environmental burden of weather measurement debris. In fact, our weather sonde is 10 times lighter, multi-purpose and reusable, and thus our solution is significantly more sustainable. Additionally, insurance companies, financial institutions and emergency management professionals are able to provide improved services for people and businesses with our AI-empowered severe tropical storm forecasting model,” Skyfora’s co-founder and CEO Svante Henriksson explained.
Skyfora, which was formerly known as Hurricane Unwinder, has raised a €600k funding round led by leading Nordic deep techVC fund Voima Ventures.
“Our mission at Voima Ventures is to solve global problems by combining science, entrepreneurship and value adding capital. Climate change and devastating weather conditions are impacting more and more people, lives and global economy. Disruptive companies like Skyfora are needed for the whole humankind to crack the changing conditions we are living in.,” said Inka Mero, Managing Partner of Voima Ventures.
Skyfora aims to strengthen its team, boost its R&D and sales efforts with the capital raised.
CEO Henriksson has a long research career in climate modeling and atmospheric science and his most recent research project into hurricanes at the Finnish Meteorological Institute was developed into a commercial concept in collaboration with experienced entrepreneur Antti Pasila, who later became a co-founder of Skyfora.
The research concept won the Copernicus Masters Disaster Management award in December 2018 and the company that became Skyfora was founded in 2019, working as part of the European Space Agency Business Incubator until late 2020.
The Tropical Storm Tracker forecasts use artificial intelligence tech to augment the standard numerical weather prediction and tropical cyclone measurements with intensity information that is derived directly from satellite images.
Not only does the data enable provision of forecasts and nowcasts, updated every 10 minutes, but it can also be used for calibration of catastrophe risk models, as well as to assess event-loss expectations, Skyfora says.