Tag Archives: weather

Take Winter by Storm and Be Prepared for Weather Emergencies

The people behind Take Winter by Storm want to make sure all of us in Western Washington are prepared for the upcoming La Nina winter. A typical La Nina season can bring severe storms, high winds and a lot of snow. How will you stay in touch and receive emergency help if your electricity goes out?

I was asked to speak about this during the news report. You should remember to try to keep your phone or other mobile device as fully charged as possible. Always have a car charger handy or a backup battery. Keep in touch with the latest developments quickly by following your local news station on Twitter or even Facebook.

Being prepared is the key. Keep batteries, flashlights, candles, blankets, canned goods and bottled water in a place that is easy to get to. Make sure you have enough of the basic food staples for yourself AND your pets on hand should an emergency arrive. Know where you will go if you are forced to leave your home for any reason, and the route you should take to get there.

This season, Take Winter By Storm will be using more social media to get the word out on preparations using “twips” through Twitter.

Take Winter by Storm has an emergency preparedness checklist for you, as well as contact cards you can fill out. They also host a plethora of resources, such as for road conditions, flooding resources and human services.

Are you ready for La Nina?

iPad Weather

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When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Meteorologist. It didn’t happen, of course. I do enjoy the weather changes we have here in the Pacific Northwest. I really love the iPad weather app put out by our friends at WeatherBug. WeatherBug Elite for iPad employs the power of the WeatherBug network to provide iPad users with the latest weather information including local current conditions, extended forecast, severe weather alerts, animated Doppler radar, live weather camera images and much more!

This is a seriously full-featured app at a ridiculously awesome price… free! Key app features include:

  • – Users get a comprehensive single-screen view of weather information via a new widget panel design and large display map integration.
  • Location-Enabled Intelligence – Use “Find Me” to bypass location settings, allowing the app to automatically detect device location in order to present the most relevant weather data.
  • Optimized Visualization – Large maps are available to better visualize current conditions and approaching storms. The entire presentation of weather data is optimized for either portrait or landscape mode viewing.
  • High Resolution Video – View WeatherBug National Outlook videos in 640×480 resolution.
  • Instant Camera Images – Quick-glance snapshots and live weather camera images are instantly available from up to 15 locations within 100 mile radius of the user’s current location.

You’ll find a host of other features, as well, including Live, local current conditions, Radar animation, nine contour map layers, Severe weather alerts and so much more.

This app is honestly one of the best weather apps I’ve ever come across. There is no end to what you can do, see and learn with WeatherBug Elite on your iPad.

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Hawaii Weather is Beautiful (Even Without the Sun!)

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I took this short clip while riding in a car during my recent trip to Hawaii. The day was a little overcast and even kind of foggy. However, it was still just absolutely beautiful there – both the scenery and the weather itself. Living in Seattle, I’m used to clouds and rain… and even prefer them to the sunshine!

What’s your favorite type of weather? Where have you traveled to that had your perfect type? Leave me a follow-up comment here on the blog and let us know! Or, you can leave a video response of your own on the YouTube channel!

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Community Challenge: Green Screen Me!

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Here’s your chance to do something with me! I recorded this while sitting in front of a green screen. “Chroma Keying” is a technique for mixing two images or frames together, in which a color from one image is removed, revealing another image behind it. It is commonly used for weather forecasts on the news. The weatherperson looks like they are standing in front of a large map. In the studio, it’s actually just a large blue or green background. The different weather maps are added to the screen using software.

You might already have the software installed (and yes, the new version of iMovie does an amazing job with chroma key / green screen shots).

So, here’s your chance! Decide what it is I was trying to say! Have fun, be creative, and make sure you show us what you come up with. Leave a comment here with the link to your creation, or upload it to your Geeks account.

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iPhone Weather Apps I'd Like to See

Given that WeatherBug is looking for new apps that call their API, I thought I’d throw out a few ideas for what kind of Weather apps I’d like to have on my iPhone:

  1. Weather Wallpaper – changes the iPhone’s wallpaper every X minutes to the latest radar image and forecast for the current geo-location (or ZIP code).
  2. Riders on the Storm – aggregates storm chasers that are broadcasting live at that moment. This is assuming we could get some kind of live video feed working through the iPhone.
  3. Fair Weather Friends – displays a contact’s current weather conditions in their address book profile, or potentially in another app that can access the address book.
  4. ThunderClap – measures the distance of lightning from your current location. User would tap one button when they see lightning strike, then tap again when they hear the thunder clap. Based on input, the app should be able to do the rest based on the algorithm. Or, per the suggestion of “pflodin,” the camera could watch for a flash of light, then the microphone could listen for thunder and calculate the distance automatically.
  5. Comparometer – compares which cities on Earth are warmer, colder, wetter, etc. than your current location. Cities would then cross-link to their location on the iPhone’s Google Maps.
  6. Cloudopedia – allows you to take a photo of a cloud, then run it through a comparison engine and give you an idea of what type of cloud it actually is. Barring advanced features, maybe just a list of cloud types.
  7. WeatherLine – shows you the weather conditions on that day for the past 25 years (in your specific geo-location or ZIP code), highlighting the highest and lowest metrics recorded over that period of time.
  8. Virtual Rainstick – Accesses the accelerometer and makes sounds like a rainstick when you flip or shake the iPhone. Also shows you statistics about rain – where it’s currently falling, who is getting the most right now, etc.
  9. Weather Stylist – user defines temperature tolerances for what they consider to be shorts weather, umbrella weather, jacket weather, sunglasses weather, etc. Then, at a moment’s glance, they can see an indication as to what kind of clothing or equipment they might need in the coming hours / days. User should be able to define their own weather-centric accessories.
  10. Watch Warning – alerts the user to any watches or warnings for geo-located area upon launch (or ZIP code).

What kind of weather apps would you like to see (using the WeatherBug API anywhere, or on the iPhone)?

Severe Weather can Strike Anytime, Anywhere

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TJ, DasFamiliar and KY_Wildcat are not only halfops in my live chat room, they are also all Storm Spotters. With severe weather season already upon us, they put together these tips to help keep you safe. As of March 20, 2008, the Storm Prediction Center states that there have been at least 464 reports of tornadoes for this year alone. The season has only yet to begin. Many people, including geeks, never really give weather a second thought in their daily lives while going on about their business. It only takes seconds for the skies to darken and sirens to blare. Warnings are issued before many realize the world around them is about to become very dangerous. Even as connected as geeks are, even we can be also caught off guard by nature’s fury.

  • Make sure you have a NOAA Weather Radio with S.A.M.E. technology. These radios are life savers, especially if you live in an area prone to severe weather at night. These radios contain loud alarms that can even wake you up in the next room. With one of these radios, you can set it to sound for only counties you want to be warned for avoiding the false alarms when severe weather is occuring in another county near by. The greatest thing about these radios is that they don’t just warn you of severe storms. They can warn you of tornadoes, hurricanes, severe storms, civil defense emergencies, earthquakes, and much more. Weather radios are cheap these days and can be found at any retail store.
  • Know the difference between a watch and a warning. This is one of the most common mistakes people make during severe weather. People often tend to think that a watch is far worse than a warning… when it is not. It’s the other way around. A watch merely means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. These are often issued about 3-4 hours ahead of the projected time the severe weather is expected to occur. This is the time when you should be using to prepare yourself/family and have your safety plan in place. BE READY TO TAKE ACTION IF A WARNING IS ISSUED!!! A warning is the time when you should take action. A warning is issued 20-25 minutes before the severe weather is expected to impact the warned area (but sometimes the severe weather may hit the area before the warning can be put out. IE: Atlanta, GA – March 15 hitting the Georgia Dome and CNN Building). A warning is decided on many factors, one being usually the storm is detected on radar reaching severe limits as determined by the National Weather Service, along with reports of confirmed severe weather events coming from storm spotters.
  • Know the basic rules that could save your life. First things first, DO NOT PANIC. Having a panic attack is the worst and last thing you would ever want to do during severe weather. Once a warning is issued, sirens blare, and the tv goes off air… DO NOT ignore it. This is the time to put your safety plan into action. The safety plan should consist of an immediate safe place where you and your family can seek shelter from the storm. Now, finding this safe place is not as easy as sitting next to the TV and waiting for it to pass. Your safety spot should be in the center of your house, on the lowest level, and as far from windows as you can get. (One guideline to remember, put as many walls as possible between you and the severe weather.) The best place to be during severe weather is in an underground basement, closet, or in a bathroom. If you have time, take blankets, pillows, or even mattresses with you to protect yourself from flying debris. NEVER… I repeat.. NEVER be in a vehicle or a mobile home during a tornado warning. Most deaths from tornadoes occur in Mobile Homes. If a tornado warning is put into effect and you are on the road.. get out and take cover in a ditch if no other substantial structure is available. LEAVE YOUR MOBILE HOMES!!
  • Turn around, Don’t drown! This is the slogan from the National Weather Service to let people know not to drive into flooding waters. Flooding and flash flooding is the #1 killer when it comes to severe weather. It only takes 2 feet of water to float a vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you drive a heavy, lifted truck. It only takes 6 inches of rapid moving water to sweep a person off their feet, and a foot of water to sweep a large truck off the road. When flooding is occuring, be careful on the streets. DO NOT drive around any flood barricades! Also, try to keep young ones away from creeks, rivers, and any rapid water ways.
  • Lightning is the second deadliest aspect of severe weather. Lighting is very dangerous, as it can generate over 1 billion volts and carry up to 40,000 amps. This is enough electricity to stop the heart in one second. The tempature can reach up to 54,000°F. When severe weather is occuring, sometimes more than a billion lightning strikes can occur. Never be outside when it is lightning. Lightning tends to strike the tallest object and follow a path of least resistance. A good structure with grounding will protect you. Staying in a car will also protect you. NEVER stand under a tree or tall object and do not be out on the water while it is lightning. Also, being the geeks we are, protect your electronics. Turn them off and unplug them… better safe then sorry. Another informational tidbit is that in a tornadic storm, the more intense the lightning is near the tornadic rotation is a good indicator of a possible tornado in the area.
  • Have your safety supplies in a waterproof container and ready for quick response. Safety supplies should be right up there with the safety plan. Remember, if you are struck by severe weather, you may be safe.. but if your house is gone, what do you have to show for it? Nothing… you have nothing with you.. nothing to help you survive. Now, as bad as this sounds… it’s has happened countless times all over the world. This is why a safety supplies bucket is extremely important. Some of these supplies should include a flashlight with extra batteries, a portable radio with spare batteries, a first aid kit (for those bumps, bruises and other emergency needs. You should also include some of those commonly used medications such as Asprin, or other things that you would find in everyone’s medicine cabinet). You should also have at least a three day supply of non-perishable foods and water. Don’t forget to bring along a manual can opener as well. Cash and emergency credit cards should also be in the supplies. You never know when you will need the emergency cash to get basic items for your family. Always pack some extra clothes. These should be loose fitting, and comfortable. Also include a pair of comfortable shoes so you can scurry thru the rubble and also help those in need. Often times, there will be no electricity after a severe storm… that means no lights. In this case, it’s a good idea to have candles and matches in your kit, as well. (WARNING: if there is even a hint of a gas smell in the air, DO NOT! DO NOT light the candle.) A great source of light to have… even as funny as it sounds… are the glo sticks. All of these supplies should be in quick responsive reach, and also should be in a spot where the entire family can get it if need be.
  • After the severe weather has passed, if there is any damage, notify your insurance company as soon as possible. You will want to notify them so they can begin assessing the damage and get you into temporary housing. Also, please do not go back into the damaged area if it is an unstable structure. Let the local fire department or emergency crews handle that. So many people have actually died going back into their severely damaged house, only to have it collapse on them.

Many people think, “This can’t happen to me”. Too often, the same sad story is played out time after time and people are often left asking why? Why me? When severe weather is in the area, take it seriously. Don’t get so caught up in the moment of what you are doing that you don’t stop to take a look at what is going on with the weather. It can take years for someone to build a life for themselves, but it just takes mere seconds for mother nature to take it all away. Geek or not, don’t be caught off guard this year by severe weather. Don’t let yourself be put in a position where your asking yourself “What should I do?” as the walls of your home are torn away by the oncoming storm. Prepare now… before it happens to you. Remember, severe weather can happen at any place at any time… and it doesn’t just have to be in the United States. Severe weather can happen anywhere in the world, and at any time. Now is the time to prepare.


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Weather on the Wii

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You know, the Wii is addicting… even without loading up a single game. I have discovered all kinds of cool things you can do. Did you know you can get the local weather… right on the Wii?

The music on the Weather part of the Wii literally makes me want to sleep. It is quite soothing, yes. However… *yawn*. However, if you’re a Weather freak… you’d want to buy a Wii just to have this feature alone. I truly enjoy all Weather things. The Wii Weather is very very cool. It has an excellent interactive capability. I can easily check the UV Index, the current forecast, forecasts from other countries… etc. It’s easy to check weather from other areas. I use the WiiMote to literally “grab” the screen (much like with Google Maps), and drag the map around.

This channel allows you to access local weather forecasts after turning on the Wii console. When connected to the Internet, the Wii automatically updates weather information from your local area and around the world. Use the Wii Remote to spin the globe and view weather reports from across town or across the planet!


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Get Your News on the Wii

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Now that I’m finding my way around on my new Wii, I am having a great time discovering everything I can do with it. Did you know, for example, that you can get your local news… right on your Wii? I haven’t even played a video game yet, because I’m too entranced by everything else it can do. I found out about getting my weather on the Wii… and now I’ve connected to the news!

Part of the news feature on the Wii is something I could run 24/7 on my screen. This way I could look over at any given time to catch the latest headlines. The Wii displays the news in a very dynamic way. I can go in and dive into a specific area of the news if I choose… such as World news, local news, Technology or even Life. I can simply go in there, and view the newest headlines in that particular section.

Internet Channel changes the way you surf the net forever. No more hunching over your computer. Just download the Opera browser for just 500 Wii Points and within minutes, you’ll be a professional sofa surfer, pointing-and-clicking your way around the web with your Wii Remote. Opera supports Adobe Flash and JavaScript so you can even watch movies on your favorite video sites!
Control the Internet Channel with your Wii Remote. Scroll through sites with either the +Control Pad or the B Button and click on a link by pointing to it and hitting the A Button. Text too small? Video too big? Zoom in and out of the browser with the + (plus) and – (minus) Buttons.
The search button is right on the start page, so you can quickly look up anything you just saw on TV. To start typing, just grab your Wii Remote, point to each letter on the display keyboard and press the A Button. Choose from 2 keyboards: traditional QWERTY or a compact cellphone-style keyboard with predictive typing.


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How to View Weather Maps in Google Earth

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When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Meteorologist when I grew up. Well, I still haven’t grown up. And… I still love to play with the weather. I use WeatherBug on my computer, for many reasons. But today, Google announced a VERY cool new feature for their Google Earth application.

Google Earth now has interactive weather maps. Google Earth combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings to put the world’s geographic information at your fingertips. The current collection contains a global hurricane tracking tool, global cloud maps, severe weather warning data and radar data from NOAA for the US, weather observations for the US from WeatherBonk, a real-time day/night viewing tool, and the global annual lightning flash rate map from NASA.

The newest version of Google Earth also includes a feature to check out the world beyond Earth! Switch your view to see the sky above your Earth location, and explore far-away galaxies, nebulae, and more. Zoom in to see imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope, learn about the lifecycle of a star, or even view the constellations. After all, the Earth doesn’t sit in a vacuum… that would be an awful waste of space.

For most of us, the free version of Google Earth is quite enough. There are pro and plus versions, but I believe that those would only be useful to hard core weather people, meteorologists, and the like. For me… free is where it’s at. I can see that it’s cloudy in Seattle (go figure!)… and what’s this? PINK clouds above Wirelesspacket’s house? That can’t be good. Who ever heard of fluffy pink clouds?

After this was published, a reader emailed me with this additional information. I thought you might like these alternatives, so decided to include it within this post:

It is an interactive map (which uses Google Earth). Weather .com has been using it for about 4 months that I know of. Shortcut to Site.

Double click on the interactive and then it works just like Google Earth (It is GE actually) without running the program. Then click on the tab for “Weather Layers”.

You can check radar or cloud or both. You can get pretty close to the exact area you live and see the clouds and radar if there is bad weather in the area. You can also adjust the transparency of the
clouds. It is pretty cool website.

Another thing I like is by Accuweather it is a program that runs in the bottom tray of your web page on Firefox. It runs on both OS X and Windows. I like this better than weather bug, because it has the current temperature and current weather icon and the up coming day and the next day’s weather. If you put your cursor over the radar icon a small radar map appears. If your cursor goes over the day the conditions and wind speed appear. If you click on them it brings you to the Accuweather web page. You can get this feature at the Firefox
Ad On’s page and go to the Forecastfox link.

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