Using apps to predict the Weather
In todays blog I want to talk about the apps I am using to predict the weather, fog and cloud coverage. I want to keep this blog short and simple. Therefore I will only discuss the parts of the apps I am actually using. Some apps will be focussed on the Netherlands whereas others are focussed on Norway or even worldwide. The weather is hard to predict and is ever changing. As photographers we’re always on the look-out for something special. Be it beautiful sunrises, heavy storms, snow or fog. As we all know and agree, blue skies are boring and overcast days seem like a nightmare.
The question that rises is: how can we predict “good” days, so we don’t miss those epic moments we are all hunting for as photographers. The answer lies within the use of multiple apps, experience and shear luck. After all, nothing is harder to predict than the weather (except the future maybe ;-D ).
To get an idea of the overall prediction, I use the app called Weather Pro by Meteo Group. It is a really nice app (especially when you have the premium features activated). It offers a reliable 7-day forecast, in periods of 3 hours (with premium 14 days, in periods of 1 hour). The app will give extensive information on temperature, precipitation amount and probability, wind direction and speed, air pressure, humidity, and more. As with all weather prediction apps, the further in the future, the less accurate. I only use it for one or two days in advance, after which I use it as an indication for the overall type of weather to expect.
To predict whether or not a sunrise or sunset will become awesome, I like to know something about the cloud coverage. And especially about high cloud coverage. To get this information, I mainly use the app called Ventusky. The Earth’s weather functions as an interdependent system. For example, cold air in the atmosphere above the Arctic has the ability to influence the distribution of pressure formations for the whole of Europe (as it did last year with the Beast from the East). The Ventusky app illustrates this by displaying the development of pressure, wind, cloud cover, precipitation, and temperature.
The app serves as a platform to visualize meteorological data. In other words, the data is being shown on a world map. The main provider of meteorological data for Ventusky is based on well-know weather models (well-known in meteoworld that is). However, the radar layers have several country-specific providers. That is why I love to use this app whenever I am on the road for photography. I’ve used it in Norway, Germany, Italy, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and in the Netherlands and always get nice results in forecasting the weather. It seems to be rather accurate, especially for same- and next day predictions.
Buienradar.nl (specific for the Netherlands)
In the Netherlands, Buienradar is well-known for the prediction of rain. As a matter of fact, it is the most used app for this. Buitenradar offers (hence the name) a radar for rain(showers), sunradar UV-radar, and cloudradar. Next to predicting rain, it offers something much more valuable (at least for photographers).
There is a function that shows the amount of fog at a certain location in real time. This is really helpful! I use this function in combination with a prediction based on temperature and humidity. With these two parameters, I am able to predict whether there is a chance of fog the next morning. To make sure this is the case, I use this app to check whether the fog is actually there (in real-time), and how thick it is. This way, I know whether or not I should get out of bed and be on my way for some foggy images. The visibility is plotted on a map, so you can check if your planned location has fog.
One of the apps I use specifically for Norway, is called YR. Together with the aforementioned apps (except for Buienradar), I use this app to predict the ever changing Arctic weather on the Lofoten. Yr tells me a lot about cloud coverage, wind speed, snow coverage, precipitation, and really important, avalanche risk. The information is really detailed and shown hour-by-hour. I use both the app and the website for this. The website shows me everything I need to know in a table, in one glimpse I know what to expect for that day (more or less). The app is nice for when I am on the road, or at location. There is a map that shows me cloud coverage (radar), which is important for sunrise, sunset and of course the aurora.
I would like to conclude with the following; Predicting the weather is really hard. There are a lot of useful apps to help you and I would suggest to combine the information you get from various apps, in order to make your own prediction. It takes time to get used to certain apps, parameters and other factors that influence the weather. But once you get a basic understanding of how these work, you will see that your predictions will get better and better.
Thanks very much for reading this article, I hope it will help you to get a better understanding in how to predict the weather. Probably there a lot more really good apps, but these are the ones I like to use. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. If you like my photography, please follow me on Instagram @harmenpiekema and on Facebook. Looking for interesting vlogs? Go visit my YouTube channel: Harmen Piekema.