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Author Topic: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?  (Read 4593 times)

CoreySamson

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Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« on: April 09, 2021, 10:31:14 PM »

I'm trying to find a new radar website because the ones I've been using are either buggy, laggy, out of service (Intellicast) or uninformative (aka Weather Channel and Wunderground). Anybody here got a favorite?

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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2021, 11:06:17 PM »

I use this version of the NWS radar, accessible from Little Rock's office
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2021, 11:24:24 PM »

I use the College of DuPage radar site. The real fancy stuff is reserved for Chicagoland, but it has pretty good functionality wih lots of overlay options. I use it for North Texas here:

https://weather.cod.edu/satrad/?parms=local-Wichita_Falls-comp_radar-24-0-100-1&checked=counties-map&colorbar=undefined
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2021, 12:46:23 AM »

I use GRLevel3. It's pretty pricy ($80) but I live in Central Oklahoma, so...
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2021, 01:22:14 AM »

I use the College of DuPage radar site. The real fancy stuff is reserved for Chicagoland, but it has pretty good functionality wih lots of overlay options. I use it for North Texas here:

https://weather.cod.edu/satrad/?parms=local-Wichita_Falls-comp_radar-24-0-100-1&checked=counties-map&colorbar=undefined

You can change the radar location to get the "fancy stuff" for anywhere... well, anywhere near one of the 150 or so NEXRAD sites.

My favorite radar source these days is actually the RadarScope mobile app. Easily the best $10 I ever spent.

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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2021, 09:21:57 AM »

RadarScope is great for iOS/Android. Highly worth it if you live in an area that experiences severe weather or you are just a geek for weather.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2021, 09:36:13 AM »

RadarScope is great for iOS/Android. Highly worth it if you live in an area that experiences severe weather or you are just a geek for weather.

Seconded. RadarScope is pretty much the best radar app available, you get all the dual-pol and high-res products, and you even get access to some international radars (Canada, Japan, and South Korea for instance). It does cost money ($9.99) but is absolutely worth every penny.

On a semi-related note, there is an app called RealEarth developed by the University of Wisconsin - Madison Space Science and Engineering Center (UW-SSEC) that has dozens of global satellite image products available, and it's free. It is a little buggy but it's very useful, particularly for tropical cyclone tracking.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2021, 02:12:35 PM »

Do any of these radar apps being mentioned offer access to velocity data or just base reflectivity? Reflectivity is fine if you just want to know if there's a storm or not, but embedded rotation can often only be seen on velocity data (especially before a storm is organized enough to present a hook echo on reflectivity).
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2021, 03:04:12 PM »

Do any of these radar apps being mentioned offer access to velocity data or just base reflectivity? Reflectivity is fine if you just want to know if there's a storm or not, but embedded rotation can often only be seen on velocity data (especially before a storm is organized enough to present a hook echo on reflectivity).

RadarScope has the full suite of velocity products, similar to GRLevel3.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2021, 03:01:39 AM »

Do any of these radar apps being mentioned offer access to velocity data or just base reflectivity? Reflectivity is fine if you just want to know if there's a storm or not, but embedded rotation can often only be seen on velocity data (especially before a storm is organized enough to present a hook echo on reflectivity).

RadarScope has the full suite of velocity products, similar to GRLevel3.

RadarScope also has dualPol, CC, VIL, Precipitation Depiction (snow, rain, mix), storm total rainfall, and some other weird products.

In the Pro Tier I you get lightning data, and Pro Tier II offers shear, SPC outlooks and discussions and more. The $99 per year for tier two isn't really worth it for me, $9.99 per year for Tier I is more reasonable imo. I stuck with the basic package and it always serves me well enough.

It's also nice to be able to click on polygons to see their official warning from the NWS.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2021, 03:55:55 AM »

GRLevel3 at least is a one-time charge of $80. I think it contains everything you mentioned in Pro Tier II, though I don't remember if it has lightning data (since I am always focused on tornadoes it might have it and I just have it turned off).
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2021, 09:31:01 AM »

GRLevel3 at least is a one-time charge of $80. I think it contains everything you mentioned in Pro Tier II, though I don't remember if it has lightning data (since I am always focused on tornadoes it might have it and I just have it turned off).

I have GRLevel2 and it doesn't have lightning strike data, at least not that I know of. RadarScope also has storm tracking with organized cells, along with estimated hail diameter and TVS/mesocyclone parameters.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2021, 02:15:50 AM »

I see no need to spend money on a lightning map when I can get a separate app that does that for free.

RadarScope also has dualPol, CC, VIL, Precipitation Depiction (snow, rain, mix), storm total rainfall, and some other weird products.

Hey, those “weird” products are useful!  :poke:

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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2021, 08:13:19 AM »

While not a weather radar app, the Real Time Lightning Map is my go-to page when there are thunderstorms in the DFW area.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2021, 11:19:19 PM »

I see no need to spend money on a lightning map when I can get a separate app that does that for free.

RadarScope also has dualPol, CC, VIL, Precipitation Depiction (snow, rain, mix), storm total rainfall, and some other weird products.

Hey, those “weird” products are useful!  :poke:

Only for those who know how to use them!

I'm still trying to figure out echo tops...
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2021, 12:41:24 AM »

I see no need to spend money on a lightning map when I can get a separate app that does that for free.

RadarScope also has dualPol, CC, VIL, Precipitation Depiction (snow, rain, mix), storm total rainfall, and some other weird products.

Hey, those “weird” products are useful!  :poke:

Only for those who know how to use them!

I'm still trying to figure out echo tops...

That's just the height of the top of an area of precipitation indicated by the radar. General rule of thumb is the higher the top of a thunderstorm is, the stronger it will be.

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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2021, 09:02:21 PM »

I use the College of DuPage radar site. The real fancy stuff is reserved for Chicagoland, but it has pretty good functionality wih lots of overlay options. I use it for North Texas here:

https://weather.cod.edu/satrad/?parms=local-Wichita_Falls-comp_radar-24-0-100-1&checked=counties-map&colorbar=undefined
You're welcome.  I was a product of that meteorology program during the early 2000s.

To answer the original question, there are a few apps I use depending on if I am chasing or just want general weather.
General weather:
Weather Underground is useful for timing of storms and temperature.  They also have a great tropical storm section. I use this most often for "everyday" use.

Storm chasing:
My Radar: Good Doppler Radar site. You get any NWS radar site nationwide. You get vorticity values for gate to gate shear. It shows what the "risk" areas are for the day and allows you to read the Convective Outlooks from SPC. It will also automatically send a notification of any severe weather warnings that affect the county you are in.

Radar Alive Pro: Again, all the NWS radar sites nationwide. Some of the products per site are Base reflectivity, VIL (used for hail size), Velocity, Storm Relative Velocity, Echo Tops and Dual Polarity.  Unllike My Radar, this one will simplify the map to how you want it. You can choose to show interstates, state and US highways, county lines, a few to a lot of town names. It will also show you exact position. It will not label the roads though.

If I am home on my PC, I like to use Gibson Ridge. http://www.grlevelx.com/
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Scott5114

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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2021, 03:19:02 PM »

If I am home on my PC, I like to use Gibson Ridge. http://www.grlevelx.com/

Fun fact about the GRLevel apps, should anyone need it—GRLevel3 works more or less flawlessly on Linux under WINE. The only thing that is broken is the timer that shows the amount of time until the next radar update, which I believe is probably because the system clock on Linux is usually set to UTC and only converted to local time when needed (since Linux doesn't assume all users of a system will be in the same time zone), and GRLevel3 probably assumes the system clock is local time, which is normally true under Windows. But even with the timer showing a hilariously wrong time to the next update, it still refreshes at the proper times as it should.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2021, 02:34:46 PM »

I just learned this past summer that https://radar.weather.gov/ has a feature where you can see the doppler velocities, rather than just the reflectivity as we usually see, so you can see the red/green map meteorologists use to identify tornadoes.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #19 on: October 13, 2021, 02:41:55 PM »

I just learned this past summer that https://radar.weather.gov/ has a feature where you can see the doppler velocities, rather than just the reflectivity as we usually see, so you can see the red/green map meteorologists use to identify tornadoes.

If you select a local radar rather than national radar, the .gov site shows super resolution base reflectivity, super resolution base velocity, dual-polarization precipitation type, dual-polarization differential reflectivity, high resolution echo tops, one hour precipitation accumulation, storm-relative motion, digital storm total, storm total precipitation, base velocity, composite reflectivity, and high resolution VIL.

I don't know know that VIL is, but it's measured in kilograms per square meter.  I don't know what differential reflectivity is, or the difference between storm total and digital storm total.  I need to go back to radar school.  I remember seeing the old radar, with reflectivity only, on television, and when I learned about it, all we had was reflectivity and velocity.  There's a significant suite of products available.  Most of them are usable only when you select a local radar, I'm guessing that's because the data is based on a single source, and compositing it from multiple sources may not work very well.  You can look at an area on a different radar if you want to see another angle.

The resolution is not as high as you see on television.  NWS uses high-power radars, which can see a long way and can see through a storm and detect another storm behind it, but the resolution is lower.  The little radars that are being deployed in my area in a denser grid every 20 or 30 miles are low-power; they give a lot of detail, but they're easily blinded by a storm and can't see very far.  As far as I know, their output is not available to the public.  As I understand it, television stations use medium-power radar, which is in between.  It can give a reasonable level of resolution, for nice television, and can just about cover a media market area.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2021, 04:06:49 PM »

I just took a radar meteorology course last spring, so I'm pretty familiar with some of this...

I don't know know that VIL is, but it's measured in kilograms per square meter.

It stands for Vertically Integrated Liquid. Essentially, imagine a box 1 meter long, 1 meter wide, and extending from the ground all the way up through the atmosphere. VIL basically answers the question "how many kilograms of water are in that box". Higher VIL values typically mean larger drops and heavier rain. Extremely high VIL values usually indicate large hail.

I don't know what differential reflectivity is

Differential reflectivity, or ZDR, is a dual-polarization product that basically compares the strength of the measured horizontally-polarized and vertically-polarized reflectivity. Positive ZDR means the target object is larger in the horizontal direction, while negative ZDR indicates the target is bigger in the vertical. Among many other reasons, this is useful because as the size of raindrops increases, air resistance starts playing more of a role, and the drops transition from a round shape to a bit "flatter", which gives them a positive ZDR.

There's a significant suite of products available.  Most of them are usable only when you select a local radar, I'm guessing that's because the data is based on a single source, and compositing it from multiple sources may not work very well.

It is actually impossible to combine velocity data from multiple radars into one big map, because those red and green values aren't absolute wind speeds or directions - they only measure the component of the wind pointing directly away from (red) or towards (green) the radar site. So knowing the location of your radar site is absolutely essential to interpreting those maps.

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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2021, 05:52:05 PM »

I just took a radar meteorology course last spring, so I'm pretty familiar with some of this...

I don't know know that VIL is, but it's measured in kilograms per square meter.

It stands for Vertically Integrated Liquid. Essentially, imagine a box 1 meter long, 1 meter wide, and extending from the ground all the way up through the atmosphere. VIL basically answers the question "how many kilograms of water are in that box". Higher VIL values typically mean larger drops and heavier rain. Extremely high VIL values usually indicate large hail.

I don't know what differential reflectivity is

Differential reflectivity, or ZDR, is a dual-polarization product that basically compares the strength of the measured horizontally-polarized and vertically-polarized reflectivity. Positive ZDR means the target object is larger in the horizontal direction, while negative ZDR indicates the target is bigger in the vertical. Among many other reasons, this is useful because as the size of raindrops increases, air resistance starts playing more of a role, and the drops transition from a round shape to a bit "flatter", which gives them a positive ZDR.

There's a significant suite of products available.  Most of them are usable only when you select a local radar, I'm guessing that's because the data is based on a single source, and compositing it from multiple sources may not work very well.

It is actually impossible to combine velocity data from multiple radars into one big map, because those red and green values aren't absolute wind speeds or directions - they only measure the component of the wind pointing directly away from (red) or towards (green) the radar site. So knowing the location of your radar site is absolutely essential to interpreting those maps.

Thanks for the information.  ZDR is a fascinating product.  That's something that's good to know.
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2021, 10:04:09 AM »

RadarScope and AmbientWeather
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Re: Best Radar Websites Or Apps?
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2022, 01:03:05 AM »

This looks like it would be really cool, but they've tied it to a single Linux distribution (RHEL) and refuse to even entertain the possibility of someone wanting to run it on another distribution, even one that is more or less exactly the same, like Fedora, which is what I'm running. (I've seen someone ask for help working around that and get shut down by some moron from the development staff saying they haven't tested it, so don't you dare try it, basically.)

I made my own attempt, hacking up the install script by judiciously commenting out lines that do things like send wget requests to 404'd pages and things like that. I'm giving up now because it wants a Fortran 77 compatibility library (just...why) that I can't track down a version of that's been released since George W. Bush stopped being President. It would be hard to find a better example of failure to properly release an open-source software package than this.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2022, 01:05:43 AM by Scott5114 »
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