OK, so whether it is "global heating" (I refuse to call it 'warming' as that sounds too benign) or just random changes, you have to admit we've had some heavy rainstorms. As we get towards the end of the high season, the weather tends to get even heavier. So, if you start to drill down on the weather data a little, there is more information that you can use to your benefit – and an appreciation of the forecaster's job!
Weather on the Web
The world is awash in websites and their accompanying apps that can tell you the weather. Here is just a partial list:
www.weather.com The Weather Channel
www.weatherbug.com The Weather Bug
www.wunderground.com Weather Underground
These information providers all have a weather channel – Google, AOL, Yahoo, etc.
Each portrays pretty much the same information that you can get by opening the newspaper over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. And you may be surprised to know that they all likely get their weather data from the same source – the US's NOAA – the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA (www.noaa.gov) is part of the Commerce Department, which says a lot about what government thinks effects business the most. If NOAA's website has any fault at all, it is how much information you can get from it. But, as NOAA says, "NOAA's weather programs touch the lives of every American.
Every day, decisions are made based on NOAA weather information – from the mundane "should I pack an umbrella today?" to that which is most critical and potentially life-saving. So, "more" is putting safety first. And that is where safety must be.
If all the services get their basic data from NOAA, why don't you just go there and get the info?
An example of what you can get directly from NOAA would be:
This probably looks amazingly similar to any of the weather reports you see in the paper or on your internet provider. So, maybe we all just should go to NOAA. It is free too.
But the real answer, going back to the intro of this column, is you want to be able to drill down and not every weather service gives you that ability.
Drill, Baby, Drill!
On any given day, you can get a weather report that tells you that the chance of rain is 80%. So, if you are planning to do anything outside, you might cancel or move it to another venue. But the 80% covers the whole day, i.e., there is an 80% chance that it will rain sometime today. When?
Here is what you can find at www.weather.com:
But there are two 'buttons' of interest. Upper left corner it says "Details" and along the bottom it says "Hour-By-Hour." Hmm.
If we try Details, we get:
Better but what I really want to know is when the rain is likely to arrive, and this still looks like all day! What happens if I drill-down on the data to get the hour-by-hour?
Bingo! If you look at the chances of precipitation (just above the graph of temperatures), you'll see that the chances of rain before 2 p.m. of about 1 in 3 or less! Even by 3 p.m., it is even money that no rain has fallen!
Drill, Baby, Drill and how about we get some fishing in this morning!
If you have any questions about this column or are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at [email protected] or go directly to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary "Flotilla Finder" at http://www.cgaux.org/units.php and we will help you "get in this thing."