FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — Ask nearly any meteorologist and they’ll tell you they wanted to be a forecaster since childhood.
For Jennifer Correa, she was 5 in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit her hometown in south Florida. That sparked her interest in weather.
Now, she’s a meteorologist and bilingual broadcaster with AccuWeather — the Ferguson Township-based weather service that serves the world.
On Thursday night, more than 100 people gathered to celebrate 50 years of AccuWeather.
When AccuWeather founder Joel Myers was 3, he said he became interested in weather. At age 7, his grandmother gave him a journal that he would document weather conditions in.
By 12, Myers said he became a weather observer for the National Weather Service and would call in the daily weather conditions in North Philadelphia to a local news channel.
“I had a burning desire to be a weather forecaster my entire life,” Myers said. “I think it was my desire to be a forecaster and my entrepreneurial state of mind that helped me set this up.”
The Penn State grad received his bachelor’s degree in 1961 and earned a master’s degree in 1963. In 1971, he after teaching classes at Penn State and running AccuWeather, he received his doctorate.
Myers said with only one paying customer in 1962, that only brought in $150 of annual revenue, he ran AccuWeather from his home. He would use pay phones to reach out to people, finally becoming what he considered a successful business in 1963.
Myers said his first customer was Columbia Gas. The company needed someone to provide them more accurate weather forecasts.
“My dream at that point was to have 100 paying clients,” Myers said. “I probably called 25,000 prospects.”
By the late 60s and into the early 70s, Myers said he then rented space downtown with only a handful of people, and by the early 80s had a full time facility.
Now AccuWeather provides local forecasts for every location in the country and more than three million locations worldwide, while also providing products and services to more than 175,000 paying customers in media, business, government and other institutions.
AccuWeather, according to Myers, also serves 590 newspapers, 820 radio stations and 220 television stations.
Myers said his five-year goal is to reach two billion people and to continue to be a valuable weather service.
“I’m proud of how prosperous we have become and look forward to the way we can grow in the future,” he said.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648.