The “Crap App” Dilemma – December 2016

| December 14, 2016 @ 10:50 am

I wrote an original post on this subject in the summer of 2012… but really, not much has changed. Weather apps are very good, very bad, and often a sore subject among professional meteorologists.

I know most of you up front are immediately thinking we don’t like weather apps because that is the new preferred source of weather information, and people don’t wait until a television newscast to get a forecast. In reality this doesn’t bother me at all; we want easy weather access for the public, and an app is convenient and available anytime at your fingertips. Our weather segments on ABC 33/40 are an excellent supplement to what you see on your phone; we tell a story the app can’t.

So, what is the problem? I just pulled up the stock iPhone weather app (most people simply use the app that comes with their phone), and this is what I am seeing…

So, this weekend the app shows a little picture of rain Saturday and a high of 73. Sunday, it also shows a rain picture with a high of 50 and a low of 30. All you need to know, right?

Alabama’s weather this weekend is very complicated, and this app gives you no clue…

*There is a risk of strong to severe storms over West Alabama Saturday night and early Sunday morning

*In Birmingham (where I am), the temperature will probably be close to 70 degrees early Sunday (before 8am)… then FALLING into the 30s by Sunday afternoon with a harsh north wind

*There is some risk of light sleet or freezing rain on the back side on the precipitation Sunday over North Alabama, although no impact is expected

*Because of the complexity of the situation, forecast confidence in the timing of the severe weather threat, and the temperature plunge is not especially high this far in advance.

And, of course, when the “crap app” is wrong, we get all the blame. The trolls, haters, and know it alls are all over us because of their phone app we have nothing to do with.

WHAT TO DO: Yep, you know it. I will tell you to read the blog. We spend long, hard hours writing easy to understand discussions that are frequently updated explaining it all. And, since you are reading it now, I am preaching to the choir. Sure, we can be wrong. That is just the nature of forecasting weather. But I have detailed verification statistics, and short term forecasts written here are correct over 95 percent of the time. (Of course, we hear the stale joke on a regular basis about us being wrong over half the time and still get to keep our job).

APP PARADE: These are the apps I recommend. None of them are perfect, but I have them on my phone.

ABC 33/40: Yep, I work for these fine people, my friends in the news department are my family, and you can see the blog there. In addition to the Weather Xtreme videos and WeatherBrains. All in one place.

Get the iOS version here, and the Android version here.

WEATHERRADIO BY WDT: This is my preferred app for warnings. These guys get it right, and you need it on your phone.

RADARSCOPE: Best radar app on the market by far. The pro version allows for high resolution live lightning and other cool functions.

SOCIAL: Another thing we can do… answer your questions. I am on all platforms, and am honored when you pick me for your question about weather.

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And, on Snapchat I am “spannwx”.

We are just asking for you to take it a little deeper… beyond your weather “crap app”… when the weather gets active. You won’t regret spending those extra few minutes to actually find out what is going on…

Category: Alabama's Weather

About the Author ()

James Spann is one of the most recognized and trusted television meteorologists in the industry. He holds the AMS CCM designation and television seals from the AMS and NWA. He is a past winner of the Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year from both professional organizations.

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