I’m fairly interested in the weather, mainly thunderstorms and tornados. So I end up following the radar fairly closely, even if there’s not anything in my immediate area. Your typical weather sites will have an animated radar image that gives you an idea of where it’s raining and where it’s not. But the big deal with doppler radar is that you can also read speed and direction. This will help you assess the severity of a storm. It takes a bit more effort to locate these radar images.

I use PYKL3 (Android) to let me easily view the precipitation radar (what you see at most sites and is technically called “base reflectivity”) as well as the velocity (typically the storm relative velocity). You’ll immediately notice that the images that the app shows you are not as “pretty” as the ones that you’d see on the evening news. This is actually because your typical radar image has been lightly filtered to make at appear better and cleaner. What you see in PYKL3 is what comes directly out of the National Weather Service’s WSR-88 radar sites. It’s actually much higher resolution that what you see elsewhere.

How good is the resolution? I’ve been able to pay close attention to the timestamp of the image, my position on the map (provided by GPS) and the velocity that the storm is moving at and could accurately tell when the vehicle I was in would be going into and out of heavier rain. It was a very interesting experience (please make sure you are not driving as you do this).