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Favorite source for storm warnings?

There have been some extreme weather effects in the US lately and San Francisco is about to have an another one. The National Weather Service’s Bay Area office issued “a frank and dire warning to citizens”:

“To put it simply, this will likely be one of the most impactful systems on a widespread scale that this meteorologist has seen in a long while,” the warning read. “The impacts will include widespread flooding, roads washing out, hillside collapsing, trees down (potentially full groves), widespread power outages, immediate disruption to commerce, and the worst of all, likely loss of human life. This is truly a brutal system that we are looking at and needs to be taken seriously.”

I find it helpful to get a “heads-up” about storms like this and sometimes they will appear in my regular daily news (The New York Times), but I’d like a more specialized source to check regularly.  My built-in iPhone weather app is pretty good at providing forecasts when things are normal but it didn’t warn me about the artic blast we received in December.

What’s your favorite source to check for storm forecasts?

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  • Comments (19)

    • 3

      I watch the local news and have a phone app for one of the channels.  The app alerts me when a dangerous storm is in my immediate area.  I give the app access to my location, so it knows where I am at all times.  The local news helps me prepare for big weather events, such as the arctic blast which brought our low to zero.  It also warned us of the heavy rains that came in this morning.  Did they ever nail the forecast in both cases.  I knew a week in advance about the frigid weather and when it would hit.  That allowed me to prepare my barn so that the horses could spend the nights in their stalls.  Same with the rains today.  Some areas nearby got 6-7 inches of rain.  The Memphis airport got 4 1/2 inches.  I got a little less I think but boy did it ever rain.  They said we got as much rain today as is normal for the entire month of January.

      I find the local news are extremely accurate with their weather forecasts for the immediate area.

    • 3

      My wife warned me about the arctic blast two weeks in advance because she reviewed a two week forecast of daily highs and lows in our area. I wish I could point to an easier warning option because I don’t have the patience for her style of vigilance. But as you said, all the alert systems I set up for this failed. All the apps warned me 1-2 days in advance, long after I’d started preparing based on my wife’s warning.

      • 3

        Wives are great for this function, as well as many others…..

      • 2

        Agreed, wives are great.

      • 2

        I wish I could point to an easier warning option because I don’t have the patience for her style of vigilance.

        Watching the local weather couldn’t be easier.  I generally don’t care about the general news but the weather is too important to miss… especially if you live on a homestead.  So I simply record the news and fast forward to the weather slot, which is always at the same time.  Only takes a couple of minutes to get all the info I need and a 10 day forecast.  And I will say nowadays the forecast is amazingly accurate.  Maybe not for predicting exactly how much rain we will get but especially accurate in when the storm arrives and what temps to expect.

    • 2

      I look at Wunderground in the evening to see the low for my early morning walk. I also look at the 10 day forecast for the same reason. If significant bad weather is forecast I will look at our local channel’s website because they will tell me what police and utilities are doing and that’s worth more than anything else, in my view.

      Our DOT doesn’t really get going until 8am, so if I was commuting (I work at home now), I would get up an hour early to get into work early to avoid the numbskulls on the road.

      We are already ready for 99% of the weather. During the 0F weather I only had to do some specialized things to vehicles, everything else was ready.

      The only micro-area weather I have to keep track of is tornadoes. Wunderground lets me know warnings/watches. Tornado sirens are the most accurate – aside from green skies.

      I worked with a few people that were weather junkies. It was all about the excitement because neither of them were ever prepared. Everything we do at TP should be about prudence.

    • 3

      Daniel Swain does a good job on California weather. He blogs here and is also on Twitter:

      https://weatherwest.com

      • 2

        This is great— thanks! He’s one of the lead authors on the latest ARkStorm study, so I’m very interested in what he tracks.

    • 3

      I have found “Mike’s Weather Page” to be useful, though it can be a bit intimidating. It is very easy to misread some of the information and make bad decisions, so I use it mostly as a pointer to other data sources and a way of getting an overview. As others mention in this thread, the local news does tend to be the most reliable, weather-wise: Our local news even did an entire educational series about why their weather forecasts were more reliable than what you could get on your phone! Self promoting, sure, but also accurate. 

    • 3

      I had a professor in college who got those very technical, all-caps NWS updates via email and forwarded them to the rest of the department when the forecast was extreme. Like I said, they’re technically, but as your example notes, NWS will put things in plain terms when necessary. I’m thinking it’s worth it to get email reports from NWS even if they are daily and I have to filter them myself.

      That verbiage re: Monday’s storm is truly frightening. I will be forwarding it to my mom. She ended up with water two inches deep in her passenger footwell during the NYE AR (from a leak in the moon roof, not street flooding) so she has no car now. I need to make sure she doesn’t frikken go ANYWHERE until this system has passed. This is not the time to deal with the car.

    • 3

      To reply to my own post, I’m now checking daily the Storm Prediction Center page of the NWS.  It seems faily direct and to the point.

      • 2

        I too rely on the NWS daily for my weather news. For those who might not already use NWS, if you are looking for more specific weather data for your area, I’d suggest that after you go to the home page and type in your city or zip code, scroll down below the “Detailed Forecast” to “Additional Forecasts” and click on the link for “Forecast Discussion”. 

      • 1

        Great tip, thanks Amy!

    • 1

      Do you have an “Alexa” in your home? Do you know it will do weather warnings? 

      • 2

        Thanks, I don’t have an Alexa in my home.  I work in computer security.  😉

    • 2

      As a retired tv news Meteorolgist, I do my own warnings most of the time.  

      • 2

        That’s impressive!

    • 4

      This is an issue I’ve put a lot of energy and research into the past few years, and I hate to say it but the best resource that I have found is Twitter. I created a Twitter account in which I only follow regional weather, traffic, and safety related accounts. The National Weather Service has national, regional, and local Twitter accounts that are excellent, as does my state and region offical transportation departments. Due to my location, I also follow several wildfire related accounts. 

      It takes some time and energy to locate the various accounts for your area, but I have found it significantly better than any news service or weather forecast for up-to-the-minute information. I’ll also throw in the caveat that I hate social media and this in not an endorsement of Twitter overall. But that said, the very finely curated Twitter feed on my mobile device has repeatedly been the fastest source of information for storms, floods, road-closures and power outages.

      • 2

        My n=1, but I agree with you: During this series of atmospheric rivers, my county’s Twitter feed has been the best source of up-to-date information. I don’t have a Twitter account; I just put the county’s feed in my bookmarks bar and check it regularly. I might eventually make a Twitter account following your lead, so I can easily follow a suite of other local government and NWS accounts, but for now, I think I have what I need.

      • 2

        Interesting.  I just took a tour of NWS Twitter accounts and found the signal-to-noise ratio to be too low for my use case.