Farm Industry News
Weather tools in your pocket

Weather tools in your pocket

Smartphone apps have become a go-to tool for tracking an important factor impacting your farm.

Weather has been the bane, and boon, of agriculture since the first hunter-gatherer tried planting a few seeds to see what would happen. Today, more is known about the weather and its causes, but that has not diminished the grower’s desire to know what’s happening to a growing crop.

A big change in weather monitoring is the rising use of mobile apps, and an early leader in in-depth, online weather information has capitalized on this phenomenon. Weather Underground, a privately held company based in San Francisco, has two popular smartphone apps: WunderMap and WunderStation. Find them at wunderground.com/download/index.asp.

“People really want to dig deeper into the weather, and the ag market was one of the key constituencies behind the development of our mobile apps,” explains Jim Menard, a meteorologist and senior vice president and general manager of Weather Underground.

According to Menard, WunderMap was introduced in 2013 and WunderStation last summer. He says both apps have been well-received thanks to features that are bolstered by real-time data collected from more than 100,000 weather-monitoring stations. WunderMap gives users a “contextual view of where the weather is, and where it has been,” while WunderStation is more climate-oriented and provides “graphs and statistics on a variety of weather-related measurements.”

Menard believes this is only the beginning when it comes to technology and weather monitoring. “Over the next decade, a variety of new technology sources will become available, which will increase the amount of observations we have to track weather,” says Menard, who sees a day when growers will be able to get real-time, weather-related data from multiple devices integrated throughout their entire operation.

And with more data being added, Menard says better forecast models will be possible.

Here’s a look at a few other apps you may want to consider downloading to your phone to track weather:

  • The Weather Channel (weather.com/apps) This app provides a wealth of meteorological data — everything from temperature and wind speed to visibility measurements and extended forecasts. Interactive maps and access to Doppler radar data are also part of the service.
  • WeatherBug (weather.weatherbug.com) This app gives users fast, targeted alerts of dangerous weather, accurate forecast data, interactive maps and more, all localized through GPS.
  • 1Weather (1weatherapp.com) This app provides real-time conditions, as well as a variety of predictions and forecasts — all in a nice visual package. Radar maps, severe weather alerts, sunrise and sunset indicators, and more are available.
  • Weather Decision Technologies (wdtinc.com/mobileapps) RadarScope, Weather Radio and HailSpot are three mobile apps offered by this company that provide users with high-end tracking and monitoring capabilities.
  • Yahoo! Weather (mobile.yahoo.com/weather) A winner of an Apple Design Award, this app is both informative and aesthetically appealing because it displays images of your location with matching time of day and weather conditions.
  • AccuWeather (accuweather.com/en/downloads) This app provides hourly, daily and 15-day forecasts, which can be integrated with your calendar. You can even create minute-by-minute hyper-forecasts for two-hour periods.

Yontz writes from Urbandale, Iowa.

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