With the fairly quiet weather we’ve been experiencing lately, I thought we could take a little bit of break this week and look at some of my favourite weather-related websites.
Some people claim that the Internet creates more problems than it solves, but if you are a weather enthusiast the Internet opens up a world of weather that the average person would never have had access to. In this first look at weather-related websites I’m going to go through some of my favourite sites that I use to create forecasts and to check on current weather conditions.
The purpose of this weather site, according to its developers, is to provide a complete source of graphical weather information. The site is designed to satisfy the needs of the weather professional, but is set out in such a way that it can be used by amateur weather enthusiasts as well. According to the site, the graphics and data are displayed as a meteorologist would expect to see, and for the amateur weather user, there are detailed explanation pages to guide you through the various plots, charts and images. It’s these detailed explanations of how to read the various weather models available on the site that makes this one of the best weather sites out there.
This site claims to be the world’s first Internet weather website. It started its development back in 1991, as a master’s degree project at the University of Michigan by Jeff Masters. With the help of others, the project quickly grew and by 1995 it broke away from its university connections and became the Weather Underground. Today, the Weather Underground claims to have developed the world’s largest network of personal weather stations (almost 10,000 stations in the U. S. and over 3,000 across the rest of the world, according to their website; my weather station is a part of this).
The site’s keepers have developed a feature called WunderPhotos where Weather Underground members upload and share photographs of weather-related content. Currently they have over 1.2 million weather-related photos available for browsing! Along with this they have also created a really nice feature cal led WunderMap, which uses Google Maps to help display interactive weather information. If you are into blogging, there is a section that allows members to post weather-related blogs, or you can read some of the interesting blogs by various weather professionals.
I guess the next weather-related website I use most often would be the National Weather Service websi te run by the U. S. Department of Commerce’s Nat ional Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While this site mostly deals with the U. S., it does have a couple of areas of interest. The one I use the most is theModel Analysis and Forecastlink. This will take you to a page that gives you access to different weather model graphics. For the most part, these are the same weather models found on the Unisys site, but the graphics are much better.
The weather model I use the most is the Global Forecast System (GFS) model and this website gives you access to the model graphics at three different resolutions: coarse, medium, and fine. Use the coarse resolution if you want small graphics that load fast, or fine if you really want to see a lot of detail. To get the most up-to-date information, you need to pick the graphics from the latest model run displayed using co-ordinated universal time (UTC) – what was once called Greenwich mean time.
Because the weather models take some time to be created, it actually works out pretty good for us here. The 06 UTC weather models are usually available for us to see at around 6 a. m., the 12 UTC model run is available around noon, 18 UTC around 6 p. m. and the 00 UTC around midnight. Once you click on the appropriate GFS model you will be taken to a page that gives you access to a large amount of weather forecasting information from the model. The part of this page that I think you will find most useful is located near the bottom of the page under the title 4 Panel Charts.Here you can see forecast information on a daily basis out to 16 days into the future. I would recommend looking at the information found under the first column (10m-Wnd 06hr Pcpn). This will give you forecast maps showing surface pressure, surface temperatures and six-hour precipitation totals.
That’s about all the room I have for this week, but I still have a fair number of websites to share with you, so stay tuned for more.