by Madison Lockwood
The weather resources on the Internet are many and varied. They range from highly sophisticated dedicated sites to national newsfeeds that produce fairly comprehensive weather reports, to regional news organizations that feature weather as part of their online news service. These can be from TV and radio stations or local newspapers. In addition, the major search engines have a weather feature that allows you to consult for forecasts in your local area.
In all cases, however, their weather information is gathered principally from national sources - in almost all cases, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. We're going to review here the principal dedicated weather sites online, and give a quick critique to what the search engines and national news sites provide.
Perhaps the best known dedicated commercial weather site is www.weather.com, a spin-off of the cable television network The Weather Channel. This website allows you to punch in your zip code for local weather, or a city/town name for some other location. The site will give you temperature readings, wind chill and precipitation forecasts. It will provide forecasts on an hour-by-hour basis, for the weekend, and will peer into the future with a ten-day forecast on one page. Graphics include satellite photos and Doppler radar representations of storm movements.
Much of this information is gathered from the NOAA's National Weather Service website. Here you will find "official" U.S. weather, marine, fire and aviation forecasts, warnings, climate forecasts and information about meteorology at www.nws.noaa.gov/. The NOAA has a massive network of weather stations nationwide, providing readouts for highly localized areas. It's also user friendly, with a wealth of visual information provided by satellites and other graphics tools. There is a vast amount of marine weather data available here as well.
The Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com) is a spin-off of the University of Michigan's weather website. Weather Underground is a commercial site peppered with advertising that presents its forecasts based on zip code, city, or on a clickable U.S. map. It also has international forecasts - click by country - and a comprehensive list of maps on its home page that show national trends for such factors as temperature, wind, visibility, precipitation, snow depth, etc. Register with them and send ten dollars and they'll email you your daily forecast.
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor's weather lab: http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/ is among the pioneers of online weather products. Currently, they maintain a quality national weather forecast site - but perhaps their most valuable resource for weather addicts is their list of 300 links to weather related sites.
Intellicast (www.intellicast.com) is an advertiser supported national site that will also email you your daily forecast. Their site offers a clickable map and the usual categories of satellite and long range forecasts. Www.weather.org is another of the lesser national websites that is exclusively for weather. Their site has an interesting map of worldwide conditions that is constantly changing as the center of their homepage. Along with the usual localized and national weather feeds, the site offers weathercams, tides and currents, and commentary from the Farmers Almanac.
Other dedicated locations include www.AccuWeather.com and www.Weatherbug.com. Weatherbug offers downloadable software that provides your local weather forecast and weather report. Yahoo and Google both provide weather forecast features, as do the national news feeds. CNN.com/WEATHER will provide international weather news and five day forecasts by location. USA Today has global forecasts and information on meteorological topics such as global warming at: http://asp.usatoday.com/weather/weatherfront.aspx.
Finally, Unisys has chosen to showcase its Weather Processor analysis software package by building a website for global weather information at http://weather.unisys.com/. Not something you'd expect just looking at their main homepage. Apparently even people who do tech consulting and enterprise servers need to know if it's going to rain.
Madison Lockwood is a customer relations associate, specializing in small business development, for Apollo Hosting. Apollo Hosting provides website hosting
, ecommerce hosting, vps hosting, and web design services to a wide range of customers.
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