Instant access to real-time local weather information is one of the Internet's underrated pleasures. There are Web sites, feeds, gadgets, widgets, e-mail and IM alerts; just about every Net platform has brought you the weather at some point. Free desktop utilities that import weather conditions and usually display the local temperature in the system tray are perhaps the most popular Web-based weather-watchers. The Weather Channel is perhaps the most trusted name in coast-to-coast cable TV weather forecasting and related information. Put the two together and you have The Weather Channel Desktop, a free utility that does what the other … Read more
WeatherBug's free, ad-supported climate-reader doesn't have the nicest design we've seen--not by a long shot--but it is useful nonetheless. The app attempts to locate your whereabouts without prodding you first, but you can turn off the preference for it to get a location fix in the preferences, particularly if you're often indoors. It's neat that tapping the menu key produces a grid of actions and views that delve deeper into the mercury than simple daily highs and lows, but having the phone's "back" button threaten to close when you press it takes … Read more
Grilling season is never officially over. Unlike team sports or the weather, the grill doesn't cycle through calendar months, ticking off days, perpetually preparing for next season. While the use of the grill may be directly linked to sports and weather patterns, the fact remains that grilling trumps all. Two degrees above freezing in hockey season is still cause enough to bust out the grill, especially when there are new toys to play with.
For those who can stand the cold and wish for the fire, here is the Grilling Basket and Tray With Lidded Shaker Set available on Amazon. … Read more
Weather Watcher is a sleek application that gives users detailed weather information on their desktops. With an attractive interface and plenty of features, Weather Watcher is a great tool for users who enjoy keeping tabs on the weather.
The program's interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, with its major features organized in tabs. When the program is running it displays the current temperature in the system tray; mousing over it displays detailed information about the current weather conditions, the day's forecast, sunrise and sunset, moon phase, and more. Double clicking on the temperature pulls up the program'… Read more
The App Store is already replete with travel apps, so what's the big deal about USA Today AutoPilot?
For one thing, it's free--despite offering such advanced features as TripIt integration, real-time flight status, and quick access to travel blogs.
Then there's the branding: Last I checked, USA Today was a newspaper (with its own news app). So what's with the travel software?
"USA TODAY is synonymous with travel. Travelers love us and we love being everywhere they need us with innovative new products," said Matt Jones, vice president of mobile strategy and operations for … Read more
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week that it has finally completed a nine-year, $180 million project aimed at installing new supercomputers to aid in more accurately predicting weather. The primary IBM supercomputer is now called Stratus. Its backup is dubbed Cirrus.
The new supercomputers, based on IBM Power 575 Systems, are capable of making 69.7 trillion calculations per second. According to NOAA, the faster the calculation speeds, the greater the chances that meteorologists can rapidly update severe weather forecasts as dangerous weather affects local communities. Billions of bytes are entered into the supercomputers each day to help predict the weather more accurately.
Just how important NOAA's new supercomputers are to our understanding and prediction of weather is easily understated.
Right now, Stratus contains about 20 weather models that predict worldwide weather accurately for about five days. A few decades ago, weather models could forecast weather accurately up to only about two days.
Those 20 weather models rarely change. They analyze conditions such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation to give organizations ranging from the National Weather Service to local meteorologists data on which they can base forecasts.
According to Ben Kyger, director of central operations for the National Center of Environmental Prediction, a division of NOAA, "We analyze weather conditions on grids we lay over maps of the world. In order for meteorologists to accurately predict a hurricane's path, for example, NOAA needs to pinpoint weather conditions in 1-kilometer grids of distance." Right now, those spans "are not even close to that."
How does it work? In order to improve forecasting, a lot of work needs to be done. Right now, scientists from around the world are analyzing Stratus' weather models to find ways to improve them. When they think that they've come up with an improvement, NOAA analyzes the new models.
If it likes what it sees, NOAA takes it open source. It installs the new model on the Cirrus supercomputer to run in parallel with the approved model on Stratus. Scientists, weather experts, and even you and I can view the new model and inspect it for errors. Errors found are removed or tweaked. If no errors can be found, and the new data enhances weather forecasting, it will be put into operation and replace the existing model that it improved upon.… Read more
Sadly, grill season doesn't last forever. If you live in many parts of the country, you know well enough that at some point it's time to pack up the grilling accessories and call it a day (or season). Before the grill can get cold and lonely, jealous of the hot dogs and hamburgers nice and warm on the kitchen stove, consider that with a little preparation, grill season never has to end. If you're willing to brave some inclement weather for the reward of grilled meats and vegetables, you are already halfway there.
We all know that invading space aliens have one primary objective, and that is to impregnate human kind. That and possibly to collect today's assortment of handy gadgets for use on their own planet. Meanwhile, there we'll be, doing their alien chores and cooking their alien dinners for them with no ability to break from their alien spell. Aren't we just a sad bunch of humanoid life forms?Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 151
Running a day late because of stormy weather, a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket boosted a new GOES weather satellite into space Saturday to serve as an orbital spare for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fleet of hurricane-tracking weather sentinels.
The Delta 4, equipped with two strap-on solid-fuel boosters, ignited with a rush of flame and smoke at 6:51 p.m. EDT and quickly climbed away from launch complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, arcing to the east and accelerating toward orbit.
"Three, two, one, and liftoff of the Delta 4 rocket with GOES-O, enhancing quality and reliability of the weather satellite for the forecaster," said NASA launch commentator George Diller.
It was the 10th flight of a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket since 2002 and the second of three launches planned for this year.
A launch attempt Friday was called off because of thunderstorms and electrical activity near the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. More of the same was on tap Saturday and forecasters initially predicted a 70 percent chance of a launch delay.
Thunderstorms rolled over the launch pad during fueling, but conditions improved as the afternoon wore on and after a 37-minute delay to allow a storm cell to move past to the south, United Launch Alliance proceeded with the countdown.
The Delta 4's first stage performed normally, boosting the vehicle to an altitude of about 90 miles before falling away four-and-a-half minutes after liftoff.
The rocket's second stage then lofted the spacecraft into an initial parking orbit before two additional firings needed to place the 7,000-pound GOES-O satellite into an elliptical transfer orbit with a high point of about 21,800 miles and a low point of 4,100 miles.
The satellite separated from the Delta's second stage on time at 11:12 p.m. Onboard thrusters will be used to put the spacecraft in its final circular orbit 22,300 miles above the equator. That milestone is expected July 8 and if all goes well, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems will turn the satellite over to the government on July 18.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system provides the hemispheric views familiar from television weathercasts. Observations of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the East Coast are provided by the GOES-12 satellite--critical for hurricane tracking--with GOES-11 providing similar coverage of the the West Coast and the central Pacific Ocean past Hawaii.
GOES-O will be known as GOES-14 once at the station, joining the GOES-13 satellite, which was launched three years ago, as an orbital spare.
"GOES-O will provide another important operational asset to NOAA and will become part of the nation's infrastructure for both weather and environmental forecasting," said Steve Kirkner, GOES project manager at NASA.… Read more
Solar storms that can threaten satellites, power lines, and communications are to be monitored in a large-scale study at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and Uppsala University starting Thursday.
The organizations will use stream-computing technology to analyze data from sensors that track high-frequency radio waves, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) said in a statement.
"Over the next year, this project is expected to perform analytics on at least 6GB per second or 21,600GB per hour--the equivalent of all the web pages on the Internet," said the IRF statement.
The organizations will use IBM InfoSphere … Read more