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How to Use Online Weather Resources

Conditions mean everything when planning your weekend adventure. Check out our Rocky Mountain Editor's favorite sites.
  • There are more weather resources online than just newscaster-level forecasts. Shown here is detailed wind speed information from <a href="http://weatherunderground.com/maps" target="blank">weatherunderground.com/maps</a>.
  • The best basic forecasts for most locations come from <a href="http://www.weatherunderground.com" target="blank">Weather Underground</a> which is a good starting point.
  • Their detailed 7-day forecasts are excellent for trip planning, since they include four detailed projections for each day.
  • Your next stop should be <a href="http://www.weather.gov/" target="blank">weather.gov</a>, which offers portals into more detailed maps and analysis. Often the forecasts differ slightly from Weather Underground.
  • The lower right of the NOAA page takes you to two more valuable resources - radar and satellite imagery.
  • NOAA's "Base Reflectivity Radar" shows approaching cloud and storm systems. Choose "Loop" to get a sense of wind and cloud movement.
  • NOAA satellite imagery can also be accessed directly from  <a href="http://www.goes.noaa.gov/" target="blank">www.goes.noaa.gov</a>. Choose infrared, and animation (movie cam icon) for most detailed info.
  • <a href="http://www.goes.noaa.gov" target="blank">Www.goes.noaa.gov</a> sector satellite images are superb for showing you approaching weather several days out.
  • Going canoeing, or on hikes that require river fords? Go to <a href="http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis" target="blank">www.waterdata.usgs.gov</a> for river flow information, searchable by state and time frame.
  • Once you've navigated the <a href="http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis" target="blank">www.waterdata.usgs.gov</a> site, you'll get detailed flow graphs, like this one for the Escalante River in southern Utah - approaching kayak level, but tough to ford.
  • How much light will you get per day at your destination? Find sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, and moon phases, all for specific locations, by going to <a href="http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/" target="blank">aa.usno.navy.mil/data/</a>.
  • Googling up your State Department of Transportation can reveal good data too. (Note: States vary.) In the upper right you see a real-time Utah Commuterlink traffic camera for the highway across Boulder Mtn in southern Utah - showing clear, sunny skies.
  • Here <a href="http://commuterlink.utah.gov/" target="blank"> Utah Commuterlink </a> shows current and graphed temperatures, and current wind speed, for their weather station at 9,000 ft on Boulder Mountain - valuable info for spring, fall or winter.
There are more weather resources online than just newscaster-level forecasts. Shown here is detailed wind speed information from <a href="http://weatherunderground.com/maps" target="blank">weatherunderground.com/maps</a>.
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There are more weather resources online than just newscaster-level forecasts. Shown here is detailed wind speed information from weatherunderground.com/maps.

READERS COMMENTS

Page 1

Backpacker Magazine, your pages load WAY to SSLLLLOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!! I have a T1 line, and your pages crawl so badly I just give up.
— Mike

On wunderground.com, check the model maps under Maps and Radar. Be sure to animate the map. This gives a computer forecast for several days ahead. If you are out during hurricane season, check the tropical forecast and for specific storms check the computer forecast tracks.
— Chuck


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