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In my job, one of the most important factors is weather. If the weather is good throughout my sector, I’m likely to have a quiet shift. If the weather is bad (thunderstorms, fog, low ceilings, snow, etc.), I’ll probably be busy. Since the weather changes constantly, every shift is a little different, which keeps my job interesting. Even when I’m not at work, the weather still fascinates me. This page includes links to some of my favorite weather sites.
In the old days people predicted the weather by looking at the clouds, consulting their bum knee, or using other pseudo-scientific means. Today’s meteorologists have access to vast amounts of data from weather balloons, thousands of reporting sites throughout the world, and sophisticated computer models. We’ve come a long, long way. With these improved forecasts, we can plan ahead better to avoid severe weather such as blizzards and hurricanes. Farmers can grow better and more crops. Pilots can fly their planes more safely.
Man vs. Nature
Yet despite all their data and computers, meteorologists still don’t bat 1.000. Not even close, especially when it comes to bad weather. Weather is simply too complex to understand completely, much less predict perfectly. From a scientific perspective, our models cannot account for every factor that shapes the weather. I don’t know if it’s even possible to gather enough data and design a smart enough program to get it right every time.
To me, weather is a nice reminder of how small and limited we really are. On a nice day we might take a walk outside, enjoy the sunshine, and feel pretty good about ourselves. But there’s nothing like a nasty thunderstorm with tornado sirens to remind us that death is only a collapsed roof away. Sometimes at work I dispatch flights near thunderstorms. Strong storms can reach 45,000-50,000 feet tall or even higher, so high that even our best aircraft cannot fly over them. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of hurricanes nearly the size of Texas.
- Aviation Weather – I use this site during every shift at work. It provides radars, TAFs, METARS, turbulence and icing forecasts, PIREPS, and many other useful products.
- AccuWeather – Tons of information including forecasts, radars, and historical data. Some is free but others require a subscription.
- The Weather Channel – I used weather.com mostly for multi-day forecasts, but it has some nice specialized maps.
- Dallas Morning News Radar – DFW area only, but I like the look of their radar images.