As four different tornadoes rolled through the county in which I live, in the afternoon last Wednesday, August 24, 2016, you have to realize that not all threats to your safety come from the masked man in the dark alley. (What are you doing in a dark alley anyway?)
(Path of one of the tornadoes, Photo by Larry Piekarski)
I use two different apps, because each one excels at different things.
RadarNow! (Android, iOS) is the first one.This one is light weight and is easy on data. I use this one when I just want a radar map. Is uses your phone’s GPS to draw a map centered on your location. Also, when there is a NOAA weather alert, it also draws the warning box on the map, which was a great feature last week. You can animate the map, if you want, and it has current temp and forecast, but I really just like this one for the map.
The other one I use is AccuWeather (Android, iOS). This one is great for forecasting. It answers these questions: What is the next big weather event? What does the weekend look like? When will it start raining? When will it stop raining?
The front page has 3 sections. The top is the current weather centered on your phone’s GPS location (or any other location you type in). Clicking on any section opens a window with more information about that section. The second section is the MinuteCast. I really like this feature. It tells you what the precipitation events are for the next 2 hours. So, you are practicing at an outdoor range and rain drops start to fall, is it a small cell and going to stop in 5 minutes, or are you done for the day? It works really well for large slow moving storms, usually getting the start/stop times right within a few minutes. It doesn’t do as well with the small pop-up type showers that we see here in the springtime.Still, it looks at your current location, what storm cells are out there, which direction they are headed, and how hard it will rain. The third section shows the next big event. So, on a Thursday, it might say, thunderstorm Sunday with strong winds and damaging hail. That doesn’t mean that Saturday will be dry, but it does mean that Sunday is something to be concerned with. This seems to look out up to 3 or 4 days, but sometimes just a few hours out.
The AccuWeather website has a handy weekend forecast, but the phone version doesn’t. Both the website and the phone have an hourly and daily forecast.
The one thing I will say, is the AccuWeather radar is maybe a bit too optimistic. Sometimes, on hot, low humidity days, it will be technically raining at a high altitude (and showing up on radar), but the rain evaporates before it hits the ground. RadarNow! seems to mirror reality a little better in that regard.
EDIT: The NWS released their official report, and there were only 4 tornadoes.