The weather has always fascinated me.
When I was a kid it also terrified me. I had one too many nightmares of dying in a tornado. Don’t ask me where I got that idea from as a four-year-old, but it is one of the first vivid nightmares I can remember having. Perhaps it was how I died in a past life. I guess I’ll never really know for sure though 🤷♀️
A couple of years back, I got really into the idea of storm chasing. I mostly want to go for the killer landscape and lighting shots I would be able to get. I’m still not too keen on the idea of seeing a tornado for funsies. But I do have to admit that even that would make an incredible photo.
Regardless of your interest level in the weather, there are a five weather apps I think we all should have on our phones.
Radarscope is a little bit pricey, a one time charge of around $10 in the app store, but it is 100% worth it. It is my go to for any sort of current weather happenings.
The radar the app displays is top-notch and it even shows you other things. I will freely admit that I don’t know what most of the other things are, but the velocity option is incredibly useful when trying to keep an eye on storms with tornadic potential.
The two screenshots above are from different storms throughout the year. On the left side, is the standard radar view that everyone should be familiar with. This shows that it is going to rain a lot and will most likely be a thunderstorm.
On the righthand side is the velocity map. The screenshot was taken just before the weather service confirmed a tornado touched down. When looking at the velocity view the green is the wind moving towards the radar location and the red is moving away. The brighter the blue/white the green becomes, the stronger the wind is. Likewise for the red, the brighter the pink/white the red becomes the stronger the wind is moving away from the radar. In this screenshot, you can see the rotation of the wind as the tornado formed.
Another awesome feature of the app is the ability to click on warnings anywhere on the map and see a detailed report of what is going on. You can see this in the screenshot above.
2. Blitzortung Lightning Monitor
This app (or maybe it’s North Dakota) continues to blow my mind. I cannot tell the number of times that I have watched lightning storms from my bedroom window at night only to open the Blitzortung app (also available as a website) to discover that the lightning storm is raging hundreds – let me say that again, hundreds – of miles away in South Dakota. I have even had the opportunity to see storms hundreds of miles to the east in Minnesota.
Aside from seeing evidence that the lightning I’m watching is hundreds of miles away, the app pushes through an alert when lightning is in the area and tells you when the last strike was within the last 60 minutes.
Everyone needs a decent weather app on their phone and I really like AccuWeather. Truth be told I haven’t switched weather apps in a long time though.
I think the thing I love most about AccuuWeather is it tells you what the temperature actually feels like out there and they call it RealFeel. So it might actually be -27F (which I can tell you is really freaking cold) but if the wind is ranging and it actually feels like -63F, I want to know about it. When it gets that cold, -27F is totally easy. Feeling like -60F is a whole different ball game.
I also really like that it gives you an accurate idea of the intensity of the rain and when it will start and stop. Overall, it’s a great basic weather app.
By now you should know that I am 1000% obsessed with the northern lights. Whether that is seeing them, photographing them, or forecasting them, I am there for it.
The Aurora app makes it incredibly easy for me to get a great view of what is happening with space weather.
On the left-hand side, the app shows the current and predicted KP for the next hour. On the right side, it shows the forecasted KP for the next couple of weeks. For the most part, it’s a pretty accurate forecast.
The Aurora app also shows you a current map of whether or not you should be able to see the aurora at your location. More often than not, my camera (yours too!) would be able to pick up a slight green glow on the horizon at the edge of the grey. For North Dakota, that would mean the KP is a 3. Once they move farther south to where you are in the green on the map, you have a pretty strong chance of seeing them with the naked eye.
5. Skyview Free
See a star in the sky and you don’t know which one it is? Skyview Free is your answer. My favorite thing about this app is the augmented reality feature.
With the augmented reality feature you can line up the stars with the map on your phone to be able to accurately identify stars and constellations in the sky.
6. Bonus for North Dakotans – NDRoads
I have a love-hate relationship with this app in the winter. It is a free app put out by the North Dakota Department of Transportation that shows updated road conditions for residents in the winter.
It is a must-have app for anyone that lives in rural North Dakota. If you live rural anywhere with severe winters, I would highly recommend finding out if your state has an app or a map that you can check when winter weather conditions take a nosedive.
My love-hate relationship with this app stems from the fact the roads are not red (closed) more often. I really do love these adult snow days we sometimes get in North Dakota.
Are there any weather apps you would add to this list?
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