Looking for recommendations for data sources

Richard W

Enthusiast
Jan 9, 2021
5
6
1
Seattle, Washington
Hi all. I'll be in the OKC area for a week of weather watching and chasing the first week of May. I'd appreciate any insights or advice on apps and data sources that I can purchase for access to real-time information, both for this trip and on an ongoing basis. Thinking of access to numerical models, radar, soundings, etc. I'm open to free sources too!

Thanks all.
Richard
 

Richard W

Enthusiast
Jan 9, 2021
5
6
1
Seattle, Washington
Thank you Ben. No, I don't have prior chasing experience, but I am knowledgeable about convective weather, Skywarn trained and extremely safety-conscious. This is really a five-day drive from OKC to Denver, enjoying the Great Plains and hoping to see a little interesting weather along the way, with my spotter in the right seat helping with nav, traffic watch, etc. As a mountain climber out here in Seattle I am aware of the perils of people not knowing what they are doing, which is why my "first climb" will involve watching cells from a very respectful distance.
 
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Reactions: James Hilger
Sep 7, 2013
679
528
21
Strasburg, CO
Pay attention to the local NWS office forecasts for the area you're in. Itll give you a broad yet as accurate as you can get picture of the day. Just type in NWS "nearest city" and read the forecast. It can be technical but ver useful as a general awareness tool.

Radarscope, absolutely.

If its a pass thru observation trip, don't bother buying anything else.

Be aware, keep your distance, have fun and be safe!
 

Caleb O.

Enthusiast
Jul 13, 2020
6
9
1
Duvall, WA
As Marc said, if you're just passing through it's not worth it to go all in and get expensive subscriptions to Allison House, GRLevel3, Pivotal Weather, etc., I would recommend looking at the the College of Dupage's excellent webpage as a one-stop-shop for all things weather forecasting. It's free and gives you access to surface maps, upper air maps, observed/forecast soundings, GOES Satellite, etc. as well as most US-run numerical models.

COD Meteorology -- NexLab Homepage

Radarscope is obviously a must, if you're going to buy anything, I recommend getting the Pro Tier 1 subscription, it gives you lightning data, longer radar loops and a couple other things for the reasonable price of $10 yearly. I wouldn't get Pro Tier 2 as it is WAY too expensive for what it gives you in my opinion.

RadarScope - Professional Weather Radar | RadarScope - Professional Weather Radar

The SPC website is also a great resource, Convective Outlooks, Mesoscale Discussions and severe weather Watches/Warnings are very useful if you want a quick heads up on the chances of severe weather in your area without spending too much time on the forecasting side of things. They also give you access to severe weather climatology, observed soundings, upper air maps, etc. if you do a little digging around on the webpage.

NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center

For getting real-time weather data, I would say this is all you need, if you want to lean more into the meteorology/severe weather forecasting, there's a load of resources posted or referenced here on stormtrack if you do a little looking around. Hope this helps!
 
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Reactions: Marc R. O'Leary
Jul 5, 2009
1,171
1,032
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
Always carry paper maps (or a US map book) of the states you chase in, just in case you lose data connections.
I used to have all those big “Gazeteer” maps, a book for each Plains state. Once Google Maps was a “thing” I kept the Gazeteers as a redundancy, but after a few years I tossed them. Just too much to bring when flying in on a chase vacation. But I still do keep the smaller, laminated state maps that fold up; they are also better for getting a birds-eye view of a larger area - the roads disappear as you zoom out on Google Maps. As far as connectivity though, i have found that my position continues to update on Google Maps even with low or no signal, always wondered how that’s possible...
 
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Drew Terril

Staff member
I used to have all those big “Gazeteer” maps, a book for each Plains state. Once Google Maps was a “thing” I kept the Gazeteers as a redundancy, but after a few years I tossed them. Just too much to bring when flying in on a chase vacation. But I still do keep the smaller, laminated state maps that fold up; they are also better for getting a birds-eye view of a larger area - the roads disappear as you zoom out on Google Maps. As far as connectivity though, i have found that my position continues to update on Google Maps even with low or no signal, always wondered how that’s possible...
Most likely, what's it's doing is saving the surrounding panes when it's able.

There are a number of off road oriented apps (Gaia, Backcountry Navigator, etc) that allow one to save maps for offline use. Granted, those programs are overkill for someone who doesn't overland like I do, but they're designed to work with little or no data. Backcountry Navigator even allows a tie in to APRS. I believe Google Maps allows you to save for offline as well, but I still keep paper maps as an additional backup.
 
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Richard W

Enthusiast
Jan 9, 2021
5
6
1
Seattle, Washington
As Marc said, if you're just passing through it's not worth it to go all in and get expensive subscriptions to Allison House, GRLevel3, Pivotal Weather, etc., I would recommend looking at the the College of Dupage's excellent webpage as a one-stop-shop for all things weather forecasting. It's free and gives you access to surface maps, upper air maps, observed/forecast soundings, GOES Satellite, etc. as well as most US-run numerical models.

COD Meteorology -- NexLab Homepage

Radarscope is obviously a must, if you're going to buy anything, I recommend getting the Pro Tier 1 subscription, it gives you lightning data, longer radar loops and a couple other things for the reasonable price of $10 yearly. I wouldn't get Pro Tier 2 as it is WAY too expensive for what it gives you in my opinion.

RadarScope - Professional Weather Radar | RadarScope - Professional Weather Radar

The SPC website is also a great resource, Convective Outlooks, Mesoscale Discussions and severe weather Watches/Warnings are very useful if you want a quick heads up on the chances of severe weather in your area without spending too much time on the forecasting side of things. They also give you access to severe weather climatology, observed soundings, upper air maps, etc. if you do a little digging around on the webpage.

NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center

For getting real-time weather data, I would say this is all you need, if you want to lean more into the meteorology/severe weather forecasting, there's a load of resources posted or referenced here on stormtrack if you do a little looking around. Hope this helps!
[Thanks for this great information and insight - really appreciate it!
 

Richard W

Enthusiast
Jan 9, 2021
5
6
1
Seattle, Washington
Thanks to all of you for the great insights and perspective. I do intend to come back for future trips so a little investment will be well worth it. And as a map geek I am probably going to buy the KS and OK gazetteers, just for fun. They are wonderfully analog in the digital age! Again, really appreciate all of the replies and am very excited about the trip. In Seattle, one sees lightning perhaps twice a year - one of them is usually in winter - which is why I am merely excited to see thunderstorms again.
 
Hi all. I'll be in the OKC area for a week of weather watching and chasing the first week of May. I'd appreciate any insights or advice on apps and data sources that I can purchase for access to real-time information, both for this trip and on an ongoing basis. Thinking of access to numerical models, radar, soundings, etc. I'm open to free sources too!

Thanks all.
Richard
If you are going to be in an area a couple of days, do some scouting on the back road grid before bad weather hits. I know in my area, GPS can get you in a lot of trouble quickly, if you don't know the roads. In rainstorms, low water crossings (called "slabs" here), can become flooded quickly, and "minimal maintenance" roads impassable quagmires. They may show roads that disappear into cowpaths, fields, or pastures as through roads, or bridges that aren't there anymore. You really don't want to make these "discoveries" with a rain wrapped mesocyclone chasing you.
 
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I used to have all those big “Gazeteer” maps, a book for each Plains state. Once Google Maps was a “thing” I kept the Gazeteers as a redundancy, but after a few years I tossed them. Just too much to bring when flying in on a chase vacation. But I still do keep the smaller, laminated state maps that fold up; they are also better for getting a birds-eye view of a larger area - the roads disappear as you zoom out on Google Maps. As far as connectivity though, i have found that my position continues to update on Google Maps even with low or no signal, always wondered how that’s possible...
IIRC, Google Maps ties directly to the GPS satellites, so they'll keep plotting even without a cell signal.
 
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