Though the official 2013 hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, the news earlier this week out of Moore, Okla., is a sobering reminder that dangerous weather comes in many forms, and you often don't know where the next disaster may strike. Even now, many states are being pounded by heavy storms as the cleanup from the tornado in Moore is still under way.
Recently, I collected a few weather apps that are great for a quick glance at the weather, but those apps won't help you much in severe weather conditions. For more-serious weather activity, you're going to need apps that track the storms with the latest radar data, give up-to-the-minute information, and give you some forewarning for what's happening in your area.
Here are a few of the best radar weather apps for tracking current storms on both iOS and Android devices.
RadarNow (free; iPhone | Android) is a bare-bones radar app, but it could be all you need to find out how close you are to the heart of a storm. Though it's listed as free above, it's only free initially; once downloaded you get a five-day trial with all the features unlocked. After that it's $2.99 for a year subscription.
RadarNow only gives you a loop of the latest radar data, the ability to zoom in and choose existing radar satellite stations, and gives you temperatures for surrounding areas. It's not the best in this collection, but if you're looking for something to grab right away to track weather, it's free initially and will do the job.
RadarCast Pro ($1.99; iPhone only) gives you animated radar forecasts so you can see current weather anywhere in the continental U.S. and predicts how weather patterns will evolve an hour in advance. It is the only app in this collection that predicts what the weather will be in the future.
With RadarCast Pro, you have the option to look at map, satellite, and hybrid views, and you also can control the weather pattern loop speed, the interval between individual frames, and change the number of frames in weather animations. With the settings tuned to your liking, you can track an approaching storm and see the NOAA's best guess for how the storm will change over the next 60 minutes.
RadarScope ($9.99; iPhone | Android) is an advanced Radar app that lets you view NEXRAD Level 3 and super resolution radar data. Radar data updates as soon as it's transmitted, giving you the best storm data possible.
RadarScope has a number of onscreen indicators that tell you a bit more about the storm you're looking at. Severe thunderstorm warnings are outlined in yellow, tornadoes in red (along with the warning period), and you get flash flood warnings outlined in green.
While this app is the most precise in the group, it might be a level of precision that's unnecessary for most people. Still, if you're looking for a serious radar app, this is the one.
Radar Alive ($4.99; Android only) was written by a storm chaser for serious weather watchers, and it shows. You can watch hurricanes, tornadoes, and other weather activity in fine detail, using NEXRAD Level 3 radar data.
This app is aimed at the serious weather enthusiast, with a full Spotter Network client for actual weather chasers. This app might be a bit too heavy for the more casual storm watcher, but if you want to see what it's like for some of these folks out in the elements, the in-app help menus will give you the lowdown.