Weather and Radar

A NWS composite radar image of the Continental...

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It still amazes me how emergency management hasn’t created training programs related to severe weather.  There are skywarn programs and NWS training but generally they are directed more toward the public are not really all that advanced.  You can’t really blame anyone for this but as an emergency manager or even a firefighter/emt/cop you should be monitoring weather conditions and understand the basic of meteorology.  Weather is the cause of most declared disasters yet there is little available weather training specifically for first responders.

If you happen to be a proactive responder than you have probably considered getting some software to monitor weather conditions.  There are many choices out there but I will give you a couple of my personal picks.  The first is Weathertap.com’s Radarlab.  The reason I like this is that it’s java based and has a lot of features available from the website, including a mobile version of the site so you can browse on your smart phone.  Java can be used with pretty much any operating system which means that it doesn’t matter if your running windows, linux, or even apple’s OS.  There are three versions that you can use including one that will track you if you use GPS.  There are a lot of different layers of data you can turn on such as: storm data, watch/warning/advisories polygons and info, spotternetwork spotters, various map styles, and many more.  It does have a little bit of load time initially because it gets all the data from the internet to initialize but once loaded it’s fast and uses very little system resources.  Rather than a one time fee, you can pay per month, per year, and even pay for multiple licences.  The advantage of this is that maybe you don’t need it year round and you don’t want to pay a big up front fee.

Next up is Grlevelx’s Grlevel3 software.  I would consider this a little more scientific in nature but has essentially the same features.  This is an installed program and only works with Windows operating systems.  However, this is a chaser favorite and comes highly recommended.  You pay 80$ once and the software is yours to keep.  There are several other versions that you need to pay for separately but they allow for pretty extensive analysis for after even review.

There are other pieces of software out there but you really need to pay close attention to what you are getting.  The two packages I discussed are the ones that I have used and had good experiences with.  If you need training, I would recommend attending your local NWS weather office and find out when they are hosting a Skywarn training talk.  Another good source is by visiting spotternetwork.org and joining them.  You can make weather reports with their software and they have a really good online training program that is required to use their software, which is free by the way.


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