Suggestions on good weather radar software?
June 13, 2005 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm unhappy with my current choices in web-based weather radar technology. I used's radar until I discovered the much more robust and clear Intellicast. Can I get something better?

Ideally, I'd like to have a website or piece of software that gives me live, up-to-date views of my local radar without having to wait 30 minutes for an update. Something like the local news has, with the ability to zoom in on areas of interest and follow storms as they move through my area (Missouri, if it matters) in real time.

I know the technology exists, but is it available to consumers? What do professional meteorologists and storm trackers use at home?
posted by nitsuj to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I like Weather Underground. They have increasingly become popup and advertising laden (no problem in Firefox), but their radar product is the best I have found. It keeps getting better with storm tracking and tornado vortex index signatures identified, zoom in with major roads mapped out.
posted by jduckles at 8:44 AM on June 13, 2005

Are you using the Nexrad stuff on Intellicast? I know there's a site outside Springfield. It refreshes about every 15 minutes, but the images are very, very sharp.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 8:48 AM on June 13, 2005

If you want comercial desktop apps then try Storm Predator or Weather TAP. I belive Storm Predator is used by HAM Radio Skywarn folks quite a bit.
posted by jduckles at 8:49 AM on June 13, 2005

Wasn't there recent legislation passed that required the national weather service to provide this kind of information freely to everyone? I'm almost certain there was news recently about this, and I'd love to know the answer. I seem to remember NOAA's website having good radar feeds.
posted by odinsdream at 8:58 AM on June 13, 2005

The College of DuPage has very good 1KM resolution Nexrad composite images. It's not as cleaned-up as Intellicast (i.e. there's noise around populated areas) but I've found it to be more up-to-date and is higher resolution. I'm not sure if you can zoom in with publicly available Nexrad data -- it may be just not high resolution enough. The local news can zoom in on the radar because they operate their own radar equipment.
posted by zsazsa at 9:08 AM on June 13, 2005

I'll second using Weather Underground. They seem to deliver very current data, at least for me. You don't need to deal with pop-ups or ads if you kick in $5 per year. That said, I also like the images from College of DuPage (or Dooper U as it was known back in the day).
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:37 AM on June 13, 2005

One more suggestion to use Weather Underground as a paying member. Not only do the ads go away, but you get to animate the radar maps over significant chunks of time.

I'm a vegetable farmer at the mercy of the weather, and wunderground's animated radar maps are bookmarked to my browsers toolbar.
posted by ewagoner at 10:12 AM on June 13, 2005

The National Weather Service provides current access to its doppler radar. I don't think it offers too much in the way of zoom, though. This is ultimately where all of the other services are getting their information.
posted by ajr at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2005

odinstream -- Maybe you are thinking of the bill that was introduced by Rick Santorum (Santorum link may be NSFW)? The bill would have the opposite effect that you describe -- it would prohibit the National Weather Service from releasing the data for free, and competing with companies such as AccuWeather.

AccuWeather just happens to be based in Santorum's "home" state of PA, in case you were wondering why he would do such a thing.

Back on topic, I like Weather Underground, too.
posted by Turd Ferguson at 11:35 AM on June 13, 2005

Well, I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but I use Konfabulator widget called Radar, which keeps a 600-mile and a 100-mile radar view on my desktop at all times. I also have as my wallpaper an image generated by a program called EarthView, which is not only pretty to look at, but will also display the entire cloud coverage North America, the northern Atlantic, Europe and some of Africa and South America, the way I currently have it configured. (For those of you interested in that sort of thing, I uploaded a screenshot of my desktop, scaled down to make the download easier.)
posted by crunchland at 12:03 PM on June 13, 2005

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