My favourite weather websites

Tropicaltidbits.com offers access to GFS, one of the primary forecasting models

My favourite weather websites

Over the holiday season, combined with COVID restrictions limiting our holiday plans, some of you may have had some extra time for reading and maybe a little surfing of the net. Over the years I’ve occasionally written about some of the websites I use to look up weather, create forecasts and read about what’s going on in the world of weather. So, for this article, I thought we could review my top weather websites with a brief description of what I use each of these sites for.

Below are the websites I use the most when trying to figure out weather forecasts. I do have my own website, www.bezte.ca/weather (it is getting really old and is in a desperate need of an update), but the main menu has all of the websites listed below, along with a few others I didn’t have room for.

tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/models

This website is primarily focused on tropical weather, but it has a great and easy-to-use page dedicated to forecasting models. On this page you have access to the Global Forecast System (GFS) model, which is one of the primary forecasting weather models. With this model you can view forecasts that go out 384 hours, or 16 days. You can view forecasts that show pressure, rainfall/snowfall, dew point, winds, temperatures and temperature anomalies, just to mention a few of the variables available. You also have access to medium- and long-range-forecast models that show both temperature and precipitation forecasts extending out from six weeks to six months. Along with the GFS model it has the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) model, which is the Canadian forecasting model. Spend a little time each day checking out the forecasts and you will start to learn how to tweak and customize the forecasts for your area.

kamala.cod.edu/Canada/latest.focn45.CWWG.html

This site is a very specific address that gives you access to the latest significant weather discussion issued by the Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Centre of Environment Canada. This discussion gives you a better insight into the thoughts behind the forecasts being created for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the western and eastern Arctic. Some days it doesn’t provide too much extra input, while other days it can be really interesting. If you take some time to play around a little bit on this website you can find various other special weather statements put out by Environment Canada — something to try to discover on your own!

weather.gc.ca

Good old Environment Canada. I use this website to see what the latest 24- to 48-hour forecasts are for various regions. Probably the biggest parts of this website that I refer to are the weather radar images, especially when rain or snow is happening or is expected shortly. Another key part of this website is the weather watches and warnings page that allows you to quickly see and read any watches or warnings that have been issued across Canada.

One other area that has some good and useful information is the analyses and modelling page. This can sometimes be difficult to find, but once you do, it gives you access to some of Environment Canada’s short- and long-range weather model information. This is also where I find the snow depth map that I “clean up” and use a few times over the winter. The information and graphics available on this site can also be found by using Environment Canada’s mobile app.

wxmaps.org/pix/temp2.html

This is the National Centers for Environmental Protection (NCEP) 14-day temperature and precipitation outlooks for North America. The graphic breaks up the 14-day period into two one-week maps showing the forecasted mean surface temperature. The third map shows the temperature anomaly for the first week. It is a quick way to see possible temperature trends, but you need to check daily to really get a feel for how things are trending.

If you are looking for weather-related news and articles, then try:

wunderground.com/news OR yaleclimateconnections.org

The first is the news and blogs from the Weather Underground, which used to be one of my go-to sites, but after being bought out from university origins, it just isn’t the same. Some of the new articles are interesting and it still has good information on tropical storms.

The second link kind of picks up where Weather Underground dropped the ball. The site is full of articles, videos and audios about different weather topics with a lean toward climate and climate change.

earth.nullschool.net

While I don’t really use this website that often when I am creating forecasts, I think this is one of the coolest sites out there. This website takes the data from weather models and turns it into a stunning visual by placing the data on the globe. It defaults to surface wind data, but by clicking on the earth label you can switch it to other types of data. I would definitely check this site out, if just for the wind visualization. It really does an amazing job of showing how the wind flows around the world from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.

Well, that is all the room I have for this issue. Have fun reading and continuing your never-ending attempt to find the end of the internet.

About the author

Co-operator contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the U of W. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park.

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