Beating the radar rat race

He's all over the place!  What an asshole!(That’s the name of an old Commodore 64 game, by the bye.)

In a recent forum conversation about how the public has to rely on either TV stations or the Weather Channel for radar views, I thought I’d try to edumacate folks. All you need for an almost-live animated weather radar view is the interwebs! Here’s the recipe:

  1. Go to http://www.noaa.gov/
  2. Punch in your ZIP code under “Weather.gov Forecast”
  3. When your local Weather Service page loads, page down to “Radar & Satellite Images”
  4. Click “Loop” under “Reflectivity”
  5. Give Java a moment to spin up and do its funky voodoo
  6. When the animated radar starts running, go down and click “AutoUpdate is OFF” so that it says it’s ON.
  7. You now have a self-updating radar view with about a ~15/20 minute lag!

You can also click on the radar and zoom in on your city if you like. Or someone else’s! Watch destruction and mayhem rain down on those other guys for a change.

#7 is important – the Weather Service’s web radar is really an afterthought compared to their meteorologists having live data. Call it a nice side effect, but don’t be a bonehead: use this only to give yourself a heads-up advance warning of what’s inbound – there’s too much of a lag to wait until it’s on top of you and then suddenly make life-or-death decisions on 20-minute-old data.

During tornado season, I have one older PC that’s almost exclusively dedicated to running the local radar view, and maybe one out of Tulsa or OKC if there’s some big bad stuff heading in from there. Your tax dollars are paying for the Weather Service bandwidth – use it!

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