Skills

How to Use Online Weather Resources

Conditions mean everything when planning your weekend adventure. Check out our Rocky Mountain Editor's favorite sites.


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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.

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The best basic forecasts for most locations come from Weather Underground which is a good starting point.

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Their detailed 7-day forecasts are excellent for trip planning, since they include four detailed projections for each day.

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Your next stop should be weather.gov, which offers portals into more detailed maps and analysis. Often the forecasts differ slightly from Weather Underground.

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The lower right of the NOAA page takes you to two more valuable resources – radar and satellite imagery.

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NOAA’s “Base Reflectivity Radar” shows approaching cloud and storm systems. Choose “Loop” to get a sense of wind and cloud movement.

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NOAA satellite imagery can also be accessed directly from www.goes.noaa.gov. Choose infrared, and animation (movie cam icon) for most detailed info.

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Www.goes.noaa.gov sector satellite images are superb for showing you approaching weather several days out.

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Going canoeing, or on hikes that require river fords? Go to www.waterdata.usgs.gov for river flow information, searchable by state and time frame.

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Once you’ve navigated the www.waterdata.usgs.gov site, you’ll get detailed flow graphs, like this one for the Escalante River in southern Utah – approaching kayak level, but tough to ford.

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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 aa.usno.navy.mil/data/.

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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.

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Here Utah Commuterlink 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.