A Geeky look at The Weather 2

I have had the The Weather 2 since the day it came out. Honestly, my initial opinion of the app was not favorable. It crashed constantly and was slow as molasses. It has had some updates since its initial release and I decided to take another look at it after reading Ben Brooks post today about weather apps on iOS.

My initial opinion hasn’t changed that much but the truth is, this app does display a lot of useful information. I don’t think it is formatted in a way that is easy to understand so here is my attempt at explaining some of its more advanced features.

The first icon on the left hand side of the top toolbar are the Radar Mode options:

  • Infrared Satellite
  • Visible Satellite

NEXRAD or Next Generation RADar, is the common radar imagery capable of measuring both precipitation and wind. The Weather 2 displays several modes capable of relaying information about base reflectivity. Base reflectivity is a visualization of the reflected signal received by the radar. The differences in the signals that bounce back are how it is able to draw visual maps of precipitation in base reflectivity radar images.

The little triangle icon in the toolbar next to the Radar Modes are optional imagery levels:

N0R – 124 NMI .50
– more commonly referred to as “Base Reflectivity Tilt 1″

N1R – 124 NMI 1.45
– more commonly referred to as “Base Reflectivity Tilt 2″

N2R – 124 NMI 2.4
– more commonly referred to as “Base Reflectivity Tilt 3″

N3R – 124 NMI 3.35
– more commonly referred to as “Base Reflectivity Tilt 4″

N0Z – 248 NMI .50
– more commonly referred to as “248 nm Base Reflectivity”

Let’s break these modes down:

The first chunk of data is the NAME of the Radar Imagery .i.e N0R, N1R, N2R, etc…

The second value is a the RANGE of the radar which is measured in Nautical Miles or NMI. As you can see the first four modes are short range 124 NMI which equals 143 miles and the last radar image spans 248 NMI.

The last bit of data to radar levels is the degree that radar’s antenna is tilted above the horizon. Different tilts can help one determine upcoming storms with more accuracy. The .50 degree mode is the most commonly used.

The next radar mode after NEXRAD is Infrared Satellite. Infrared Satellite images show clouds by their temperature. You will notice that the images in this mode seem very desaturated except for areas of blue clouds (mixed with other colors). The blue areas indicate cold or high cloud tops.

The final mode is Visible Satellite. This mode is quite literally satellite images as seen from space.

Both of these last two radar modes have different viewing height options available under the triangle symbol in the top toolbar.

The center toolbar icon hides the main application toolbar, giving the radar an almost fullscreen mode.

The next toolbar icon is for specifying any additional layers on top of the radar images.

These layers include

  • Time Label
  • Storm Tracks
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Webcams

Time Labels are extremely useful when playing the radar animations (the last toolbar image shown here to the right) and keeping track of where the storm started and which direction it is heading. It gives the ability to visually but a time to the speed the storm is traveling.

Storm Tracks are symbols overlaid on the radar image. You will notice, as you zoom in, there a lot of ID numbers consisting of one letter, and one number i.e. W3, P4, H2. These are cell ID numbers that allow you to find more information about the storm on the web through a reference table of reported storms all with unique cell ID numbers.

  • A yellow square symbol means there is a 70% chance or greater of hail.
  • A yellow diamond means that a Mesocyclone storm has been detected
  • A purple triangle means that possible tornadic activity has been detected

You will also see white arrows pointing towards the direction the storm is heading. These white lines have two black notches. The first black notch indicates where the storm will be in 20mins, the second black line indicates where it will be in 40mins. This is also a great visual indication of the speed the storm is moving. The longer the line, the faster the storm is traveling.

The Lightning Strikes are points on the map where lightning has reportedly struck the ground.

The Webcams option is surprisingly useful. You will see a red pin each place there is an active registered webcam and you can click on the them to see the latest webcam image. The best part is you can view these webcams without having to leave the radar screen. When you are doing watching the webcam, it simply falls out of sight and you can continue to explore the map.

That’s it! Enjoy!