Friday, October 9, 2009

Weather watching in real time

Do you find yourself getting stressed out over certain weather predictions? I know I certainly do.

For days, meteorologists from the local television stations to the Weather Channel and CNN were warning that we, in Arkansas, were about to get deluged by rain and severe storms.

I tend to take real notice of these predictions, since the weather seems to be a bit extreme lately. We have all seen, thanks to the Weather Channel's Storm Stories and plain, old, regular news broadcasts, what Mother Nature can do to us when she really wants to raise a ruckus.

Needless to say, I was a little uneasy as the predicted cold front was about to meet our 80-degree atmosphere head-on. Sure enough, storms started forming, as predicted.

This situation has made me really grateful to today's computer technology. I cranked up the laptop set to my favorite weather site--Intellicast.com. I have used this site for quite some time, even though there are probably many others now that offer the same thing.

This one, however, was cutting-edge when I first got interested in such things. It remains my favorite. I have an Intellicast widget on my Google start page that allows me to see the weather at a glance in my area.

As the storm approached, I watched it bearing down. I have placed a marker where my house is located. Intellicast lets you zoom in close--close enough to identify roads and landmarks. I could actually watch the weather as it approached--not just the neighborhood, but my house.

This is a great tool. I was able to watch a break in the clouds that I could corroborate by having no rain outside. When the big orange blob came back, the rain wailed outside. This gives a better understanding when there are tornado warnings or severe thunderstorm warnings. It is an excellent visual that allows you to watch exactly what is happening in real time.

What a far cry from the days when no one ever really knew what was happening. We were at the mercy of Mother Nature. How many people have died in tornadoes that they didn't know were coming.

When people talk about how technology is ruling our lives, I just smile. I love this techno age. I wouldn't trade it for anything.