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Software reviews

Your mobile could help you both receive and generate potentially lifesaving weather forecasts and warnings.

CH2M Hill

Flood Alert

Free on Android, IOS and Blackberry

Millions upon millions of people around the world live or work in places at risk of flooding, whether from rivers, reservoirs or the sea, so access to an effective warning system is a lifesaver. In England and Wales this means the flood warnings summary published by the government's Environment Agency, and made widely available via public data feeds.

You can register an address via the EA website, and get flood warnings sent by email, phone or text message, but the Flood Alert app will be a more versatile solution for many, not least because it can also provide alerts vie geolocation, ie it warns of floods in your (or your phone's) vicinity, not just those near your registered addresses. It allows users to monitor live status of flood alerts that are relevant to their current location, and live status of flood alerts for up to two user-defined locations such as home, office, or an elderly relative's house. Live flood alert information can be displayed by region, county or local authority.

The app was originally developed for the EA by water modelling specialists CH2M Hill. Similar apps are available for several other geographies, including the US, Sweden and Thailand.


Zalicon Enterprises

Weather Tunnel

Free on Android

Many of us find that the built-in and big-name weather apps are not enough. The information is too basic, too coarse in resolution, or lacks analysis, or is simply too awkward to work with – for example, to compare the conditions at home and at work.

Weather Tunnel was developed with this in mind. It lets you set locations to watch, then gives you a forecast in plain language – the detailed meteorological data is there to drill down to if you want it, but to start with it tells you if it is windy, dry or muggy, cloudy or sunny and so on, along with forecasts for the next few days. Usefully for travel destinations and the like, it also tells you the local time and season, the times of sunrise and sunset, and the visibility, and there are alerts for extreme weather conditions.

As well as searching for locations to add, you can add from your phone's address book, making it easier to look up the weather at places relevant to you. Of course, like any app it is only as good as the data source, and Weather Tunnel uses the web-based Weather Underground service, which is now owned by TV's The Weather Channel and which collects data very broadly.


The Climate Corporation

Climate: Basic & Pro

Free or $15/acre on Android and iOS

Farmers have always been at the mercy of the climate. An unexpectedly long dry spell could spell famine and death, while storms can destroy crops. Even in more recent times, rainfall could make a field more or less workable, render irrigation work as wasted, or delay and disrupt harvesting.

So farmers keep a keen eye on the weather, and now with smartphone apps such as Climate: Basic & Pro they can go further, significantly boosting their revenue per acre.

As well as up-to-date weather information and alerts, the Pro version covers soil and crop data, and helps the farmer plan planting and harvesting, and identify problems such as yield stress from lack of nitrogen, pests and so on.

The aim is of course to save time and resources by planning your farming activities better, whether that is ploughing, planting, spraying or whatever. It also gives you historical weather data for your fields, so you can understand how extreme a forecast weather event might be, compare current conditions with the past, and react in the most effective way. And it lets you track your work or observations on a field, both for record keeping and to share across other parts of your organisation.

A caveat is that this particular app only works for North America, because it taps into US-specific weather and geophysical data, but there are similar apps for other areas around the world.


World Bank

Climate Change DataFinder

Free on iOS

There is a raft of apps out there designed to demonstrate climate change or teach children about CO2 emissions. Most of them look to a single source for climate data: the World Bank's World Development Indicators (WDI) database.

The World Bank itself publishes a number of apps that access and present this data, with this iOS app being the main one to focus on the climate change element.

Its analytics are a little basic, to say the least, and you will want to run it on an iPad rather than an iPhone in order to see anything very useful, but it makes it relatively easy to see how countries compare on key indicators such as the projected change in the numbers of hot days and warm nights over the next half-century or so.

For a more playful approach, take a look at WB Climate on Android. This free game takes the historical World Bank data and attempts to show how you could have changed the past by cleaning up or eliminating sources of pollution and implementing cleaner technologies. It is not easy to figure out exactly what is going on, but it can give a good impression of just how fast the problem has grown – and of how very hard it is to respond in time.




Free with ads or £1.50 on IOS, Android and Windows Phone

Some needs for weather data are very specific. For instance, there are many people who need or could benefit from very detailed information on wind speeds and directions, such as kitesurfers and windsurfers, sailors, paragliders, balloonists and other fliers, or hunters needing to adjust their aim. Those on or around the water also need equally detailed information on the waves and tides.

Windfinder aims to answer all these needs, taking observations from thousands of weather stations around the world and providing forecasts for almost 40,000 locations. The paid version can provide forecasts down to an hourly resolution in Europe, North American and Egypt, plus homescreen widgets.

You can search by location or by windspeed, including simply searching for the weather stations closest to you – useful for finding the best park to take your kite to, perhaps. You then get a highly detailed local weather forecast, including wave and tide heights for coastal locations.


Further information

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