The Role of Weather Data in Meeting or Missing a Deadline: Analyzing historical weather patterns can benefit your management of unforeseen circumstances.
Missed deadlines happen—sometimes, it’s unavoidable. In the case of weather-related construction delays, it’s key to determine just how preventable a stoppage was when it comes to picking a next step.
Ideally, when weather impedes the completion of a project, the contract’s force majeure (Act of God) clause is invoked. For compensable delays, this section of the agreement helps contractors avoid the costs and penalties of missing the deadline.
But the common misconception that all weather delays are compensable can cause expensive, far-reaching setbacks if it isn’t clarified. A weather delay is only compensable if the project owner is at fault. For example, if construction is meant to start in the fall but gets pushed back because the owner can’t secure the site in time, winter may come before construction starts.
If the delay is noncompensable, payment or bonuses can be withheld, penalties enforced, and your reputation tarnished as a result. Besides direct costs and penalties for missing the deadline, continued daily expenses for superintendence, security, temporary on-site facilities, and additional labor can also be incurred.
Historical weather reporting and expert data interpretation help avoid the risks and consequences associated with weather delays. This information helps paint a picture of what to expect at a construction site, which assists contractors in developing a more appropriate contract period.
This data gives a brief glimpse into how unforeseen circumstances can affect construction, an industry that relies heavily on schedules. The more information at a contractor’s disposal, the more these unplanned weather delays can be accounted for.
Historical weather information involves more than just predicting storms and extreme weather. It also tracks an area’s average precipitation, temperature, and heating/cooling degree days. Some locations even have wind roses available to determine a gust’s expected pattern and frequency.
Most general weather data is available for free, but typically revolve around airports—the official weather reporting station for a region. More precise site data requires a subscription to a weather service, which may be one of the most important investments you can make. After all, data is just data—it takes a skilled meteorologist to turn that raw weather and climate information into something useful and actionable.
As a contractor, using professional historical weather records when planning and estimating a project can give you a number of advantages, including:
The precise information possessed in these historical weather reports help you choose an optimal construction site based on expected wind, rain, and temperature. A weather subscription service is especially helpful in obtaining reliable, site-specific data. Free weather data from the nearest airport may be drastically different than from a construction site that is only miles away but in an entirely different climate.
Understanding temperature and precipitation averages will help you establish a more realistic start and construction time frame. You can build weather days into the timeline to add a cushion in the event that extreme weather causes a delay, which minimizes the all-around damages of a missed deadline.
Delays are never ideal, but if one is unavoidable, historical weather data can prove that it was excusable. You can compare the weather that caused the delay with past site forecasts to demonstrate the unpredictability of the weather event.
Weather is like financial investing in that previous performance is no indication of future results. But knowing a construction site’s weather history is important in creating the most airtight construction timeline possible.
Historical weather reports are also the best way to prove that noncompensable delays are still excusable. Contractors who use these reports to their full effect find they’re less likely to shoulder the burden of inexcusably missing a deadline.
About the Author:
Rick Scott is an industry manager and senior meteorologist at StormGeo. For more than 10 years, he has helped analyze weather-related needs for refineries, chemical plants, and manufacturing facilities while customizing safety solutions for the day-to-day operations of StormGeo’s clients. For more information visit www.stormgeo.com
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