Monday, September 28, 2015

The Latest NWS Forecast at Your Fingertips

There are probably hundreds of weather apps and widgets available for your smart phone or tablet. Personally, I have two radar apps (PYKL3 and Radarscope), the Blitzortung Lightning Monitor, and a few "weather forecast" apps. The forecast apps provide a forecast for your local area and have different bells and whistles, depending on the app.

One of my "go to" programs on my smart phone is an experimental widget developed by the Southern Region of the National Weather Service. This widget can be embedded in an existing web page (for example, a web page you have created for your local weather), or can be used as a stand-alone app in a smart phone or tablet. This widget is adaptive, meaning it automatically adjusts the content to the width of the screen of device using it. What I really like about this widget is the organized and compact way it serves up the weather information users want to access on a smart phone. Most National Weather Service web pages do not have mobile versions, and navigating them on a smart phone is cumbersome. (One exception to this is the Storm Prediction Center web site). I'm not a big fan of the new NWS web page design which has, to date, only been deployed in the NWS Eastern and Central Regions. The widget addresses the mobile issue and makes accessing the forecast and other information straightforward and organized.

When you first open the widget, you will get a screen with the NOAA and NWS logos and a message the the widget is loading. It will then display the opening page for whatever location you have chosen.

The opening screen of the widget. The icon to the left of the location entry box opens a Google map where you can select a location. The icon on the right will reload the forecast information for the site you have selected.

On a smart phone, all the information available is collapsed into expandable menus on the screen. Most tablets will be able to display the expanded layout without the collapsible menu.

For example, if you select Detailed Forecast, a window with four tabs is displayed, and you can select the forecast for the time period.

The Radar menu opens to a radar loop of the local NWS radar. If you select the radar map, it takes you to the full web site radar page for that office. The Satellite menu opens to a the full U.S. infrared satellite map. Tap that map and you are taken to the very nice mobile version of the Geostationary Satellite Server from which you can view a number of other satellite images.

The More menu contains links to the full web site for that NWS office and the tabular and graphical forecasts. While these are not mobile versions, you can zoom in as you would on any web page.

To add this to your smart phone or tablet, point your web browser to  Enter the location you want to have a forecast page for and click Go! Once the page displays, use the "Add to Home Screen" on your browser menu to have the widget readily available on your smart phone or tablet.

Remember that this is an experimental product and could be discontinued or changed at any time. In the meantime, give it a spin.


  1. Thank you! I appreciate learning about helpful tools like these.

  2. My husband uses PYKL3 and Radarscope. I barely know what day it is so I don't keep up with the forecast as much as I should. I do plan to add this widget to my phone and tablet though in case I get the urge to find out what the weather's going to do instead of just letting it do whatever it wants.

  3. Interesting ... but I only get a "Not Found" error. I'll try it later, as it would be nice to not have to have the NWS on a permanent browser tab. NOTHING that I have seen beats the Forecaster Discussion, especially for southeast Texas.

    1. I just tried the link and it worked, though it took some time to load. Probably a temporary issue.