The internet is a sprawling place that has its fair share of great sites, like this site that lets you scroll through a scale model of the solar system based on the moon being the size of one pixel. There are tons of weather sites out there and while a good portion of them are freaky conspiracy websites run by high schoolers with inexplicably large followings, there are some true gems that many weather enthusiasts have yet to discover. Here are the five weather sites I frequent the most for their awesome graphics and information.
I wrote about MODIS Today the other day while describing the awesome satellite image the Aqua satellite took of the United States covered in snow. The site updates once per day with two ultra-high-resolution images of the United States in vivid color. It's worth visiting every day, even if there isn't active weather occurring. It never gets old looking at our planet from above.
The Iowa Environmental Mesonet website is a treasure trove of weather information — past, current, and future — that is a required bookmark for weather enthusiasts.
My favorite feature on the site is called IEMBot. The iembotis great because it aggregates and archives almost every text product issued by the National Weather Service in real time. The site is incredibly useful if you're trying to track severe weather as it happens, as it alerts you to text products (including watches and warnings) the moment they're issued by the National Weather Service.
The site also features a meteogram generator (an example is pictured above) that allows you to visualize model data for certain variables such as temperature and rain/snowfall for up to a week in the future. It's great for getting a side-by-side comparison of different models to see how much agreement and variability exists between them.
WeatherBELL arguably produces the best quality model output available to the public. The site has the "big three" models (GFS, NAM, ECMWF) and all of the other smaller models that help forecasters make a prediction. They have pretty much everything and anything a weather enthusiast could ever want from a website that features weather models.
The catch? The best isn't free.
It costs almost $200 a year.
The next best model website behind WeatherBELL (that's free) is a site called TwisterData. The site allows users to surf through the RAP (Rapid Refresh model), NAM, and GFS model runs on a large scale view of the continental United States. The site is great for tracking synoptic scale features such as nor'easters and the jet stream. The model images are very well done and excellent for forecasting and illustrating weather analysis.
SimuAWIPS, pictured at the top of this post, is an incredible resource for tracking current weather and predicting what will happen in the short- to medium-range. The website is modeled off of the National Weather Service's innovative Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), which is pretty much the beating heart of their forecasting and warning operations.
The SimuAWIPS interface is interactive, customizable, and allows you to view up to four windows of weather data at once. It's as close to using the National Weather Service's software as you can get without actually working for them as a meteorologist. Its features, layout, and interactivity make it my number one site for weather graphics.
[Image credits (in respective order): SimuAWIPS / CIMSS/University of Wisconsin / Iowa Environmental Mesonet / WeatherBELL / TwisterData]