Company Gambles on Weather Geeks

Google, General Motors ... Mother Nature?

A company called Mahem — for Miami Hurricane Event Market (search) — allows people to make bets on where a bad storm will make landfall.

"The market will eventually reflect the odds that people believe the hurricane will hit," said David Kelley, co-founder of Mahem.

Mahem is listed on the electronic futures market, where online subscribers can gamble up to $500 a season by picking strips of coastline they think will get nailed.

Mahem's creators say people who place bets, whether they're hurricane survivors or simply weather geeks, could have important insights that may be useful to professional forecasters.

"We're hoping all these people, each of which have some clue or some idea, will result in a strong prediction," Kelley said.

Mahem also wants meteorologists to wager bets. But America's best-known forecaster says his people at the National Hurricane Center (search) won't take part in a program that's based on little more than a gut feeling.

"This is America. They're free to do things like this, but I can tell you I don't see how things like this are going to help people at the National Hurricane Center as some folks have alleged," said Max Mayfield (search), the National Hurricane Center's director.

One meteorologist who relies on the National Hurricane Center's forecasts says while the Mahem market could have some benefit, he wouldn't bet on it.

"I would definitely put my money on something that's tried and proven as opposed to something that's just starting out. That's what I would do if I were taking care of my family," said meteorologist Phil Ferro (search).

Electronic futures markets have successfully predicted presidential elections and Academy Award winners. But when it comes to forecasting hurricanes, Mahem remains an unproven commodity.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Orlando Salinas.