As someone who spends a significant amount of time outside, odds are you probably pay a bit more attention to weather reports and forecasts than your Average Joe Coworker. Beyond filling the time with idle small talk at the water cooler, weather reports can have a huge affect on our trail time plans … and many times, those weather conditions are more than an inconvenience — they can be downright life threatening.
The sticky humidity and heat that’s bothering apartment dwellers in urban basins in the southwest aren’t fun, but up in the mountains they could easily trigger surprise thunderstorms and monsoon rains, not to mention dangerous flash floods in the canyons below — even when the skies are clear.
Since it launched in 1995, WeatherUnderground.com has taken a unique approach to weather forecasting, relying on both data from public agencies and a sprawling network of citizen scientists using their own personal weather stations. Weather Underground culls information from more than 200,000 stations worldwide. Now they’ve updated their offerings with a new inclement weather app for mobile devices called Storm from Weather Underground.
Storm is billed as “the Best App for the Worst Weather,” and it’s kind of hard to argue with that. Enter a location, and you’ll get the current conditions and forecast (updated every 15 minutes), as well as in-depth statistics and timelines of conditions like wind speed, visibility, and humidity as they’ve been tracked throughout the day. Hourly forecasts are available as well.
But the main map is where Storm really shines — there are currently ten different map overlays and thirteen different data displays you can add or subtract to the overview depending on what’s relevant to your region and season, including snow cover, tropical storm tracks, real-time lightning strikes, and earthquakes.
You can also access a series of severe weather warnings, see some of their awesome weather photography, and even poke around an impressive network of webcams updated in real time. Not quite as useful in the backcountry where there are fewer webcams, but definitely nice to have when you’re near a gateway community and still fun to poke around!
Especially useful for backcountry types is the Storm Tracks feature, which will predict the direction of incoming storm fronts and the likelihood they’ll head in a variety of directions.
In addition to all that weather goodness, you can also get government-issued alerts for fire weather and heat advisories, something that can be extremely useful while hiking in the West. And all of those updates can be delivered as push notifications.
Storm by Weather Underground is available for free on both Android and iOS. Whether you’re trying to stay as up to date as possible on weather conditions for your next hike, or you’re trying to track down a great thunderstorm shot for your outdoor photography portfolio, Storm is a great addition to your information arsenal.