Friday, August 03, 2012

App Me: RadarScope

One of the most frequent questions people have asked over the past couple of months is about the app I use to display radar information in various tweets we make. It's called RadarScope and it's available on both Apple and Google Play.

RadarScope shows radar data displayed as the National Weather Service displays it but with various options that allow you to switch over from one set of features to another.  The most common one is "SuperRes", which is the upgraded version of radar that many doppler radars have received this year.  SuperRes is essentially the "dual polarization" technology that's out there.

This radar is from last Thursday's severe weather event -- the yellow boxes are those that are under severe thunderstorm warnings.  The color band across the bottom shows the varying intensity of radar reflectivity -- the yellows, oranges, and reds are indications of heavier rainfall in thunderstorms.

Another main feature is the ability to look at precipitation estimates -- how much rain has fallen during a storm or over the last hour.  You can click the bottom color bar for precipitation ranges and match it up to your backyard to get a radar estimate of what may have fallen outside.

There are also different options that you can look at within the radar -- velocity to get an idea of potential wind gusts as to whether a storm may be tornadic or not.  The velocity is good for storm chasers and a tool that can be used pretty frequently by them.  Also included is echo tops -- getting a sense of how high up in the atmosphere a storm may be, and a slew of other features that you can't normally get on a National Weather Service radar.

Of course, to get a lot of those radar features on a mobile tablet or phone you're going to pay.  $9.99 is how much it runs.  Was it worth it?  For me, absolutely.  For others, there are good radar options out there for much cheaper (Wunderground gives basic radar info in an app for free -- something we'll talk about in another post) if not free.  However, if you are serious about weather and not merely just wanting to know if it's going to rain and how hard, it's not a bad investment to consider making for your phone or tablet.  From a functionality standpoint, it is easy to use and has not crashed on me since I downloaded it a few months ago (fingers crossed that this continues).