If you pay attention, are redundant in ways you receive weather advisories, alerts, and warnings– and know the difference among them– and can find yourself on a map, you have begun to take serious responsibility for yourself. Yay!
Advisory: Be aware
Watch: Be prepared
Warning: Take Action
This may be all you need. You may feel, given your circumstances, that having timely notification of coming severe weather is good enough.
Given your circumstances is the loaded phrase. If your circumstances are such that you are not okay being alerted to bad weather at the same time everyone else who’s paying attention is, this post is for you.
What follows (in this and upcoming posts) are my recommendations and evaluations of weather-related web sites, apps, and other ways to collect weather information on your own and beat the crowd. You can become familiar with each of these in a few minutes on a nice sunny day. (That’s a bald-faced lie. The first I’ll review has so much information I’m still learning all it can do. But I’ll walk through key bits.) By checking them once or twice a day, you’ll soon develop an eye for the upcoming. You’ll give yourself an extra day or two before the experts decide it’s time to issue an advisory, watch, or warning.
Also. The experts can be wrong.
Later in the day I was puttering around the kitchen and for sh*ts and giggles, I turned on The Weather Channel. LOL. “Beclown” is a great word. They were still yammering on & on about the wind and rain and the delta and the flooding to come in Jackson.
I just checked the Clarion Ledger, Jackson’s rag, and there’s nothing on the front page about flooding or wind damage. Really? I was told it would be so.
You know why I took that screen shot? Because anyone with eyes and an amateur understanding of the weather could have predicted that good ol’ Gordo was not going to track that far west.“I am not a Meteorologist, but I do have eyes” posted at Bigfoodetc.com September 5, 2018
I’ll see for myself
1. WEATHER SITES AND APPS for your devises
As a reminder, weather sites and apps usually provide two sorts of information: 1) future forecasts generated by one or more computer models with forecasts presented in table form, and often graphically (e.g., maps of predicted cloud cover and movement, maps of predicted hurricane movement, etc.; 2) current and past real life states of affairs in the form of past and current radar and satellite images. It’s important to distinguish between these because
- radar and satellite maps only show what has happened,
- models can be wrong, and
- many sites graphically merge past and present satellite images with a model’s future forecast which can be misleading (in other words, leading you to think “this is what has happened and this is what will happen,” rather than “what the model predicts may happen”)
Windy.com and the Windy app
Windy is my favorite. The app for devises is free at the AppStore and GooglePlay. Windy.com and the app for iPad look and work about the same. As Windy is graphics heavy, it looks different on my phone but the information is still there.
Lots & lots of graphics below the fold.
I’ve since changed settings and now it opens showing the location of my little town, and since I do not want you to know where, exactly, that is, we’ll use Starkville as our location. Clicking in the search bar pulls down a menu of my favorite locations.
For every location you search, the wind map and forecast from one of four models will pop up.
Basic Forecast things to note:
- default is ECMWF model (red button, bottom of screen; more on the models below)
- 6 day
- temperature, rain, color coded wind speed and wind gusts, wind direction
- scrolling left on the forecast panel reveals
- current conditions at the six most closest weather stations in the area (shown below)
- information about location including lat/long, sunrise & set, dusk, altitude
- choose a different forecast model– CFS, NAM, NEMS– by clicking (bottom of screen)
- choose to compare all four models on one screen
Note that the compare view also provides information about the model itself, including strengths and weaknesses.
I find the layout and formatting of the Basic Forecast, especially the compare feature, quite informative. There are other forecasts. Let’s look at Meteogram Forecast.
More information, especially on clouds and cloud base given in feet, and in units understood by pilots! The Meteogram forecast is available for three of the four models.
Let’s close the forecast and zoom out.
Looking at surface (see slider on far right) wind at 1pm in the ECMWF model. Note that by default, I have pressure isobars tuned on (lower right menu). Regions of various wind speed bins are colorized. Direction is given by the streaming arrows.
That right there is worth the price of Windy ($0.00)! When you see regions of wind moving in a clockwise direction, and adjacent regions moving counter-clockwise… BOOM!
Wind is not the only weather characteristic Windy makes available:
The top three are forecasts, meaning that you can play the timeline (bottom of screen) through a nine-day forecast (for each of the four models), or jump ahead to a specific time & day.
The radar image is a static image of most recent smoothed radar data. The timeline is a little over an hour’s worth of past radar images. The crackling lightening sounds (optional at bottom right) is a hoot!
Weather Warnings layer
Choose from all, today, tomorrow, later (lower left menu); choose by level or type (lower left)
The main menu (top left) and settings are everything you’d expect them to be. Menu (under main menu) has a feature called “Distance and Planning.” In the two shots above, I’ve tracked a patch of red yesterday in western Oklahoma. Downloading KLM saves it as a file that opens in Google Earth:
Compared to other sites or apps, nothing compares to Windy! That’s especially true if you are interested in seeing approaching good or bad weather for yourself!
Next up– Radar Scope, a very useful app to use as bad weather approaches.