LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Delivering millions of packages on time to the world requires a massive logistics operation that the United Parcel Service says couldn’t be done without the help of its weather team.
"We have a bunch of locations that we do daily forecasts for. Our hub locations are where we have the greatest impact because that’s where the most people work, that’s where the most flights are in and out of," Rob Clements, UPS aviation meteorologist, said.
Clements has climbed the job chain at the company, first starting out wearing the brown uniform for deliveries, but with education and some training has traded in his wheels and outfit for weather computers at the global operations center.
The meteorologist and his colleagues’ skills are tested daily, keeping employees safe and deliveries running on time.
The company employs the services of more than 500 aircraft that service around 220 countries.
"Meteorology is critical to air operations. We need to know what we are expecting, in terms of weather, so that we can make plans, effectively serve our customers, and get those packages to customers on time," Jim Mayer, director of media relations at UPS, said.
December’s tornado outbreak, as well as recent winter storms, kept the operations team busy moving equipment and employees out of harm’s way, but the weather is constantly changing keeping Clements and his team members busy adapting to whatever Mother Nature throws their way.
"One of the biggest things that we work on is fog. The people that started this department actually created a fog forecasting method and wrote a paper that was published on it, so nightly, we look at almost 100 different airports to assess the fog risk," Clements said.
The UPS meteorologists not only forecast for areas in the U.S., they constantly monitor the Pacific, Europe and, of course, the oceans for any signs of tropical activity.
With the combination of experts on the ground and in the air, the company boasts some of the highest on-time delivery rates in the industry, keeping not only employees happy but also the recipients of the little brown boxes.