Every winter, heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions make driving treacherous and threaten essential services. While there’s nothing you can do about Mother Nature, advance warning and the ability to plan is your best defense against the next major snow event. Fortunately, weather apps and other resources are plentiful and often free or low-cost. Here are some of the best products to keep you apprised of the latest winter weather conditions.
iPhone and iPad users rave about Dark Sky, an intuitive weather app that’s great for those who live in areas prone to snowstorms. Dark Sky is known for its amazing accuracy in being able to tell users when precipitation is expected within the next hour. This is particularly useful for deciding whether or not to leave work early to beat the storm. The temperature monitor also includes a “Feels Like” feature, allowing you to factor in wind-chill. This app retails for $3.99 (approximately $5.35 CAD), and updates are provided free to current users.
Available on your Android smartphone or desktop, Weather Underground allows you to customize your viewing preferences by choosing different overlays, including satellite and animated radar. Users have the option to report conditions they’re experiencing and to advise the app managers if the information presented is inaccurate. You can also program the app so that you’re notified of weather alerts in your area. One fun feature of the desktop version of Weather Underground is the ability to look up historical data, such as that memorable snowstorm back in your high school days.
National Weather Service
Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service provides official forecasts, watches, and governmental warnings by county or city. Many school districts base their determination on school closings due to information provided by this government site.
Traveling to a new location? Accuweather.com supplies worldwide weather information, allowing you to easily narrow the report down to the city you’ll be visiting. The site gives forecasts up to 45 days in advance and provides hourly information on sun, temperature, and precipitation. The MinuteCast feature even lets you know what’s going on minute by minute so you can plan your day.
At-Home Weather Devices
You don’t have to be tethered to your computer or smartphone to stay apprised of the latest conditions. For hard-core weather enthusiasts, three devices provide fascinating data for those with more than just a passing interest in snowfall, dew point, barometric pressure, and wind-chill. Check out AcuRite Pro 5-in-1 Weather Station, Ambient Weather WS-1001 WiFi Observer, and Oregon Scientific WMR200A Professional Weather Center and see how their weather data and predictions compare with the more mainstream apps.
On the other end of the technological spectrum, the storm glass is a peculiar and fun way of trying to predict when the next blizzard will hit. This ancient weather forecaster consists of a cylindrical tube that contains a mixture of chemicals that react in response to weather conditions. If crystals form at the bottom, frost is imminent, and large flakes in the liquid indicate snow is on its way. Doubling as a home ornament, the storm glass is a great conversation piece, even if it’s not completely accurate.
Whether you get your information from a high-tech device, a weather app on your smartphone, or the most primitive form of winter weather predictor, advance knowledge of upcoming conditions helps you take the steps you need to make the area around your home safe.