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With the advent of the tornado season, and especially after the terrible disaster that occurred on Monday in Oklahoma, it’s important for everyone to keep up with the weather. Yes, that mundane subject that occasionally has us scurrying for cover. One of the best ways to protect you and your family is with a weather radio. Look for one that will alert you and wake you up in case inclement weather comes in the middle of the night. I can recommend Midland radios as working well for me over the years.

Don’t forget too that your local National Weather Service branch has a web site chock full of data, including weather maps and forecasts with warnings. Of course there’s also local TV and radio.

The NWS gets much of its data from its many radar and weather-gathering sites. But it also gets data from average citizens who have, at their own expense, set up weather stations. I had an old weather station set up for years, but that model didn’t interface with anything but a small console. So I recently upgraded to a Davis Vantage Pro weather station. They make their equipment in the US, and the station is pretty high quality compared to the one I retired, which was a bit flimsy (but still worked well for several years).

This weather station can (with some extra hardware) also send its readings to weather gathering site like the Citizen’s Weather Observer Program, the Weather Underground (the good guys, not these guys!), and WeatherBug to name a few. These extra readings help out the NWS and these other sites to give a more accurate and detailed  picture of just what’s happening.

When you buy a data logger (the extra device required in the case of the Davis equipment to export your readings) you also get software from Davis. You can get either the Mac or Windows software, but all the reviews I read said that the Mac software was well behind the Windows version in features (including where you can export to). So I bought the logger, but I also picker up some Mac-only weather software called WeatherSnoop.

WeatherSnoop takes the data from your weather station (and they support quite a lot of them) and allows you to export it to all the places I mentioned above. You can also get a WeatherSnoop phone app ($1.99) that will read your weather data on the go (and you can connect the app to multiple WeatherSnoop and/or Weather Underground stations if you want).

The WeatherSnoop software is pretty easy to set up and has a good electronic manual to get you going.  It comes in a Lite and Full version. The Lite version doesn’t have the nice graphical presentation of the Full version. You can upgrade at no penalty if you start with the lite version. You can also download a trial version that will run for 3 hours, which should be enough time to determine if it works OK with your weather station and if you like it or not. A few of the screens available are the indoor readings:

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 6.14.08 PM

 

and the outdoor readings:

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 6.14.36 PM

 

There are also some graphs and charts. You can also edit the data or just look in the database if you want.

WeatherSnoop is $60 or $20 for the Lite version.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIgVCU19pjg

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  • If you get a weather alert radio, be careful to specify what alerts you want. If you live near the sea like I do (Seattle) there’ll be a lot of Small Craft Advisories that you may not need to hear. Ditto flood warning if, like me, you live on a ridge top. Pare it down, and you’ll only hear what you want to hear and be less likely to turn it off completely. You don’t really want to be awakened in the middle of the night, adrenaline pumping, only to discover that it’s a false alarm.

    Also, I believe that some sort of alert system is now being built into cell phones. And article with more details about that would be helpful, particularly if our clueless politicians and bureaucrats are delaying implementation. Tornados usually get a few minutes warnings and, if we on the west coast had the same warning system that Japan has built, we could get at least seconds of warnings from all but the closest quakes, seconds that could make a big difference.