Apr 26, 2011

Weather and iOS: Why Are You Still Using the Built-in Weather App?

I'm not quite a weather geek but I'm interested in severe weather.  I like to know when its coming for safety reasons but also find it interesting to track in general.  Whatever your motivation, if your still using the built-in Weather app for iOS on your iPhone or iPod Touch you are really missing out on a lot of information.  If you have an iPad, it didn't even come with a weather app.
Here is what you are missing and what I use:
The Weather Channel Max
  1. Hourly Forecasts - My "go to" weather app, Weather Channel Max, is what I use for this.  I check it in the morning to know how to dress and/or whether to take my raincoat on those iffy days.  It gives me the forecasted temperature and percentage chance of rain for each of the next several hours.  The free version also has hourly forecasts.
  2. Severe Weather Alerts - The Weather Channel apps also will alert you for severe weather warnings for your location, making a thunder clap sound and displaying the warning.  You can click a button to enter the app and see the details of the warning.
  3. Radar - Radar is important to knowing how close the rain or snow is to where you are.  Plus, it's just interesting, if you are a not-quite but almost weather geek.  Animated radar helps you know where the storm system is heading and whether it might miss your or hit you.  For this I typically use Weather Channel Max, RadarScope (if I want really detailed resolution on radar), or my local TV stations own app (which has the added benefit of "storm tracks", which show you the direction the cells in a storm are moving).
  4. Polygons in RadarScope
  5. Polygons - Polygons are those warning areas for flash floods, severe thunderstorms, and tornados that show the warning area on a map.  These are especially helpful for tornado warnings, where you will want to be able to see more accurately where the National Weather Service thinks is at risk of experiencing the tornado.  As my local weatherman, James Spann says, "Respect the polygon."  As I write this, it's tornado season and severe weather is expected.  I will be "respecting the polygon."  RadarScope will show you the polygons though it's pricier at $9.99 and there may be others apps out there that do this.
  6. Hurricane Tracking - For this I use the aptly named Hurricane for this.  Living in Birmingham, Alabama, it's more out of interest than necessity that I will watch hurricanes paths.  However, in coastal areas of the U.S., it is much more of a necessity.  Hurricane will not only show you the expected path of the hurricane but the expected timing at points along the way as well as the path that the hurricane has taken thus far.
  7. Pollen Levels - This is important during the Spring, especially if you have allergies to pollen.  I got a free app called ZYRTEC AllergyCast for this before I realized that the Weather Channel Max also has it.
So, are you still using the standard, Apple Weather app, on your iOS device?  If not, what do you use for weather?

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