Here in Oregon it's super important to know for me to know if rain is coming in the next hour.
Even though I'm retired, I have many crucial things to do -- such as taking our oldest dog for a semi-slow motion walk every afternoon. Our walk takes about an hour though it's less than two miles. Serena is twelve and a half. She doesn't move nearly as fast as she used to, unless a CAT! grabs her attention.
So this morning, when I learned about Dark Sky through my iPhone's AppAdvice app, almost instantly I decided to fork out $3.99 for it via iTunes.
Kind of spendy for a weather app.
But it's also kind of irritating to either (1) wear my waterproof rain hat, coat, pants, and shoes for an hour dog walk, when it never rains a drop, or (2) wear regular clothes and get soaked halfway through the walk.
I love Dark Sky, even after a mere nine hours of using it. All it does it tell you if it's going to rain or snow where you are in the next hour. And that's a lot.
Because Dark Sky offers up forecasts to the minute, using publicly available government radar data along with some sophisticated algorithms for eliminating extraneous info, plus calculating storm intensity, direction, speed, and such.
For the geeks, here's an interesting explanation from the developers of how they do it (leaving out some of the most secret'y stuff).
This morning it showered off and on. Dark Sky nailed the forecast. That gave me confidence when dog and me set off on our walk around 4:00 pm. Before we left I checked out what Dark Sky had to say: "No precipitation" for next hour.
Great. I put on a fleece jacket and Teva sandals (with wool socks; it was 55 degrees and windy on the day before May Day). No rain hat.
I trusted Dark Sky, even though clouds were rolling in, some of them looking pretty darn dark. Halfway through the walk I checked my iPhone again. Still "No precipitation." Which turned out to be true.
A Dark Sky update that I just downloaded adds support for Hawaii and Alaska, which makes the app even more useful. The radar animations are well done. You can scroll back quite a few hours, watching the weather pattern repeat itself. Also, go forward an hour in a short term radar forecast.
Dark Sky is a terrific idea. I've often looked at radar images on other weather apps, but it's difficult to make practical sense of them. How fast is the rain approaching? From what direction? How much rain is in the clouds?
Dark Sky calculates all that info, using the iPhone's own processor rather than a remote server. Also a terrific idea. Dark Sky just takes a few seconds to crunch the data into what sure seems to be a highly accurate forecast of rain and snow to come.