Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review - Dark Skies Weather App

I hate the weatherman. I really do. I don't trust him. He lies to me regularly. In fact one of my favorite quips, while standing in the rain when it was supposed to be sunny is - "you know what meteorologist means in English? Liar."

I know it isn't their fault, as weather prediction technology has gotten better and better, the people trained to use it have ended up with too much information and not any more real ability to predict weather. I generally don't trust a weather prediction that is more than 48 hours out. Meaning I will only look into the next 48 hours to see what they are predicting and consider it reliable. Life was more simple when all they had at their disposal was barometric pressure readings, now they have radar that sees everything, and satellite imagery, and pressure variables, and lots and lots of computer modeling. At the end of the day they can't really predict the weather.

Over the years I have taken to using a VHF when paddling, I want to know what the weather is doing where the wind is coming from. That will tell me what is coming my way, usually. I also wear a watch with a barometer for very localized weather predicting. If I am paddling, and the pressure is dropping, bad weather is coming, and it is time to get off the water.

In the film 'three days of the condor' CIA analyst Robert Redford is a micro weather enthusiast. In the beginning of the film - to illustrate how smart he is - he predicts that it will start raining at something like 10:48. Slightly later when he is being chased by the baddies, it starts to rain and he checks his watch. Seeing this made me look into micro weather and at the time it didn't really exist. Now it does.

Yesterday I taught a GPS class in what the weatherman predicted would be rain all day. My boss was concerned I would be able to make the class happen because the rain would be too bad, I said I am making this class happen, and the only thing that would end it would be an electrical storm - which they were calling for at 2:00pm.

But I had with me, Dark Skies ($3.99 the app store) and I figured I would give it a chance. Right now as it is open on the table next to me, I see a black circle that says 39ยบ and rising. Around the circle it says Mostly cloudy.

Below that is a bar graph with the vertical access going from light to heavy, and left to right the next hour in 10 minute increments. Below it says "light rain starting in 20 minutes".

Yesterday teaching class I would move us under shelter or out into the open based on these instructions. It worked phenomenally well. The entire class got into the predictions this app was making, and it became a point of discussion. The next page - with a swipe to the right shows the next 24 hours, for both cloud cover and temperature, (as well as sunrise and sunset time). the next swipe to the right shows the week to come. There is also a weather map, and an alarm mode - that works like "notify me if...."

I am super impressed with this little app, and it is now my go to source for current weather.

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