By Tony Barthel
On a recent trip, I was reminded how important it is for us RVers to know what’s going on with the weather. As I sat in my desert oasis overlooking Death Valley, another individual who clearly enjoys his time in the desert asked if we were bugging out early due to the predicted winds.
Predicted winds? He said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted high winds for the area. Interesting, my phone’s weather app had no such information.
Who is NOAA?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an American scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere.
While there are lots of places that tell you about the weather, it’s this government agency’s job to be the go-to folks when it comes to the weather. Fortunately, there’s an app for that: the NOAA Weather Radar Live: Clime.
The app comes from the developer weather or not apps, and utilizes NOAA’s data to provide an accurate weather tracking app.
While the NOAA Weather Radar app itself is free, it’s not very useful unless you buy a subscription plan, and that process isn’t as straightforward as it should be. There is a one-week subscription for $2.99, which I bought to try the app. There are also one-month subscriptions at $6.99, and annual subscriptions for $19.99.
What you get for that are alerts on your phone for hurricanes, precipitation, lightning, air quality and wildfires.
Features of the NOAA Weather Radar app
In the NOAA Weather Radar app, you can configure either a standard or satellite map. It’s location-aware, so it’ll tell you the weather where you are – no more looking out the window like a caveman. But it also will do predictions based on NOAA’s information and provide the aforementioned alerts.
You can also add places, so if you plan to go somewhere you can check the weather before you hit the road. Since the app is fed by NOAA, their radar images incorporate most of North America that you’d be able to go to in an RV.
What I like about this app are the alerts on my Apple Watch, which is part of that subscription package. You can also have the app for the iPad but Android users are left out in the cold – you’ll have to find some other weather app besides this one.
The core features include:
- Radar overlay shows the areas of rain, snow and mixed precipitation in high-resolution and vivid colors right on the interactive map. The satellite map illustrates the cloud cover.
- Basic precipitation forecast provides precipitation for the range of the next 24 hours right on the terrain map. The snow depth map displays the detected snow cover and depth.
- Push notifications – Be warned whenever there’s a weather alert for your saved location (tornadoes, flood warnings, and more).
- Weather alerts – Access detailed alert information at one tap on the ticker bar.
- Important National Weather Service watches, warnings, and other alerts are shown on the map as interactive polygons covering the territories they’re active for. Long-tap one to get the full alert text.
Essentially if I had had this app installed I would have gotten alerts about the wind. I was very fortunate that the “desert rat” came along and warned us, as we high-tailed it out of there and went to a safer location.
Apple users, you can download the app here, or by searching for it in the app store.