Originally created 02/12/99

Company forecasts weather 12 months in advance



WAYNE, Pa. -- Predict the weather a year from today in any city in the country? Nonsense, meteorologists say.

But Frederick Fox, a self-proclaimed weather prophet, offers a money-back guarantee that it can be done and will tell Internet users the best time to get married, plan a ski trip or even sell rain gear.

"Others think along the chaos theory -- that the atmosphere is chaotic in nature and can't be forecasted with any accuracy beyond a few days," he said. "But we think the universe has order and everything is predictable."

For only $19.95, dates and destinations for the year will be suggested in less than a minute via his Web site, weatherplanner.com. For one- to 10-day forecasts, it costs $14.95. The company claims its accuracy rate is better than 70 percent and that only a dozen of the 3,000 customers over the past year have asked for refunds.

Eastern Mountain Sports of Peterborough, N.H., relies on WeatherPlanner to manage its inventory of clothes and outdoor gear in 76 stores.

"It gives us a better idea of what kind of demand we'll be facing from season to season according to the weather fluctuations," company spokesman Alan Margulius said. "It's definitely helped us increase profitability."

Fox said he relies on about 100 years of historical data from the National Weather Service and a theory that everything, even weather, happens in cycles. He wouldn't be more specific about his patented system.

The American Meteorological Society says there is no verifiable way to forecast day-to-day weather changes a season or even a month in advance.

The National Weather Service insists that accurate forecasts are possible only two weeks in advance with modern physics and technology, said Allan Eustis, industrial meteorologist for the agency in Silver Spring, Md.

"I don't think the guy is necessarily a heretic because there are cycles and different ways to look at things," Eustis said. "But would I buy it? No way. I don't think there's enough skill in it. But remember, I'm a mainstream scientist."