Want to know what a storm might do where you are? Search your phone’s weather app – Space City Weather

BrieflyWe’re excited to have Dwight Silverman, a veteran Houston tech journalist who works behind the scenes with us, share this article on how to get local forecast information from the powerful computer in your pocket. Dwight explores some of the features and data in your phone’s weather apps that you may not know about.

Whenever a storm hit the Houston area, Eric and Matt were inundated with questions about conditions at individual reader sites. They had time to answer a few, but given what needed to be done and the amount of work they had, they couldn’t answer all of them.

But there’s good news: Often, the answers you’re looking for can be found in the palm of your hand.

Almost everyone carries a smartphone, and many of the weather apps built into them can give you a lot more detail than just the current temperature and chance of precipitation. Some let you drill down into the metrics you want to know most about a major storm—wind speed and rainfall. Want to know what the peak wind gusts will be when the storm is forecasted to be closest to you? Or how much rain is expected near you? There’s an app for that. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t do a great job with the uncertainty in the forecast, but it gives you a solid approximation of what to expect.

This article isn’t meant to be a guide to weather apps, but rather to highlight some features you may not realize exist, or that may be hidden deep within the app’s design. There are many third-party weather apps out there, and I won’t attempt to cover them all. But I will offer tips for some of the better ones, and those that come built into your phone.

Space City Weather

You may have heard that we have our own free app? That’s right, it’s available to both parties. Apple Products (iPhones, iPads, Macs) And Android devicesThe app is primarily designed to give you quick access to Eric and Matt’s posts, current conditions, hourly and daily forecasts for the week, and radar for any of the 12 cities in our area. But one thing you may not realize is that it includes detailed, up-to-date forecasts and advisories from the National Weather Service for storms and hazardous conditions.

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The icon in the bottom right of the Space City Weather app home page takes you to the National Weather Service’s current forecast and alerts.

Open the SCW app, tap the bell icon in the lower right corner of the screen to access active alerts as well as short- and long-term warnings. There are also discussions of air and marine weather as you scroll down. (Note: The flight section won’t tell you if your flight is canceled! Check with your airline, and keep an eye on FAA Airport Status Website.)

Apple Weather

After Apple bought the popular Dark Sky app, it quickly redesigned the app that came with iPhone, iPad, and Mac to incorporate the hyper-local forecasting features of the previous app. The app will give you details about conditions — both current and future — in relatively precise locations.

However, this integration has not been smooth at all. For example, last year, the app was released Data not loadingIn other cases it was Predicting rain when there has been no rainThe patient’s condition appears to have stabilized recently, but it’s a good idea to double-check what you see in Apple’s Weather app from other sources. (You can find out where Apple gets its weather data from here.)

However, the app makes it easy to see the forecast for specific conditions, especially wind and precipitation, in your location. On iPhone, iPad, and Mac, it shows you the conditions in individual boxes, and tapping on any of them takes you to a screen that lets you jump forward in time to check the forecast for a particular condition.

By tapping any of the tiles in the Apple Weather app, you can get more details, including forecasts for specific conditions.

For example, if you scroll down on your iPhone to the wind or precipitation tiles and tap one of the tiles, you’ll get the current conditions for the day in a chart. Swipe left to go to the next day, or tap a calendar date near the top.

Are you traveling and want to know the weather conditions and forecast for a different location? Enter a zip code in the search field. You can save any of the locations for future use. You will also see alerts, warnings, and weather forecasts for those locations.

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Android devices

Unlike Apple devices, which all have the same detailed weather app, Android smartphones and tablets use different apps and services, depending on the device manufacturer. For example, Google’s Pixel phones use Google’s own weather service for most of the information that appears on the screen, while Samsung and OnePlus phones will take you to a weather website, usually Weather.com.

But there’s a general strategy you can use: In the five- or seven-day forecast list, choose the day you want to explore and click on it, then look for the metric — wind or precipitation — for your target location.

On the Google Pixel 6 Pro, when you tap the Weather widget on the home screen, you can go to Google’s weather information, and from there you can access specific forecast metrics.

In the image above, when you tap the default weather widget on your Pixel’s home screen, you’ll be taken to the general weather page. From there, tap on the day you want to get details for, then scroll down to get the wind and precipitation forecast for that day.

Try the app on your Android phone to find the best route to get the information you need.

Next, let’s take a look at two third-party apps that, while not free for all features, may be worth purchasing if you live on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Radar Scope

RadarScope is one of the best apps out there for looking at weather radar data. It’s a favorite of Eric, Matt, and me, and while there’s a limited free tier, it’s worth the $9.99 annual subscription for the Pro 1 tier. (There’s a Pro 2 tier, but most people will only need Pro 1.) It’s available for Apple devices – And with a one-time payment, you can use it on all Apple products, including the Apple TV 4K streaming device. It also Available for Android devicesBeside Windows computers.

This is actually a professional app, which gives you access to different types of radar technologies and views. Once you unlock one of the professional levels, you will be able to see the direction in which storm cells are heading, the location of lightning strikes, storm reports and local damage from NWS’ crowdsourced MPing app.

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RadarScope shows a lot of detail about storms on radar, here it shows the initial bands of Tropical Storm Beryl as it moves toward Houston on Sunday morning, July 7, 2024.

You can select specific radar stations, both in the US and abroad, including 13 in Texas. It’s easier to use and navigate on a traditional computer, but still very useful on your phone. The help files in the desktop version are helpful, and there are also A Facebook group you can join. To learn from other users.

windy

Windy is available as website And iOS/iPadOS And Appearance memory As the name suggests, the app initially focuses on wind conditions, but it’s actually a full-featured weather app, with a very interesting feature: you can track storms based on computer weather models. Choose the model you want, along with the date and time of the forecast, and it will animate the storm on a beautifully drawn map.

The Windy app lets you choose your weather model, then animates the resulting storm forecast on a map.

From the Home screen, press and hold the Home icon. Tap the primary label at the bottom to see the different forecast models available. Select one to see the storm at your current location, then scroll through the timeline to see where the storm is expected to be based on that model’s forecast.

While most of Windy’s features are free, some — like the 15-day weather forecast — require a subscription, ranging from $2.99 ​​per month to $29.99 per year. But most people can do just fine with the free version.

There are many other weather apps and websites that can help you keep track of storm developments, and as I said at the beginning, this list is not meant to be comprehensive. (I didn’t even mention my favorites, happy skywhich was developed For those who miss the look and feel of the old Dark Sky app.Oh wait, I just did that!) If there’s an app you like, feel free to tell others about it in the comments.

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