A friend of a friend of mine has coined a word that I fervently believe should be part of the American lexicon. At the very least it should be part of the average Floridian’s vocabulary.
The word is ‘humicidal’, and it means that the weather is so friggin’ hot and humid that it could cause death. It’s a great word, and it aptly describes a typical Florida Summer day.
Northerners not accustomed to Florida’s humicidal days and oppressive nights often leave believing this fair state to be a nice place to visit, as long as the air-conditioning works.
This Summer has been exceptionally toasty, not just in Florida, but areas all across the country have experienced brutally hot weather, wreaking havoc on utilities and emergency services in many municipalities as they struggle to keep weather related deaths to a minimum. Whether it is a symptom of Global Warming, a cyclic weather phenomenon, or a meteorological aberration is anyone’s guess, but no one will argue that this Summer has been particularly humicidal.
Putting on sunblock is not enough if you plan to be outdoors for awhile, and staying hydrated is only one item on your list of surviving the Summer. You should really think about what you intend to do and when before you step outside. Mowing the lawn in the early afternoon, for instance, is a recipe for disaster for even the hardiest person if precautions aren’t taken.
Planning is key, and any plan should include a review of the weather forecast. If rain is predicted then maybe that trip to the beach should wait until next week. Of course, here in Florida rain is always predicted so you may as well go and plan on getting wet whether you take a swim or not. Even so, being able to keep track of the weather is a plus when you’re out and about.
Besides the usual suspects, like Weather Bug and Weather Channel apps, there are other apps that you might find worth adorning your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch that can help keep you from becoming a humicidal statistic.
Take WunderMap for instance. This is an armchair meteorologist’s dream. You get a Google fueled map with data from Weather Underground showing information from locations all across the display area. You can turn on layers for cloud cover and precipitation, show weather station temperature and precipitation totals, and you get forecasts for any location you center that map on.
I really like the interface. It’s clean, shows what I want when I want it, and the map is the best I’ve seen on any free weather app.
WunderMap is truly a wonder. Check it out.
One of the things I like about my iPad is that it’s useful just sitting in the dock. Apple was wise enough to include a nice slideshow app so that the iPad can serve as an expensive digital photo frame while its charging.
Of course, you can get your iPad to do other tricks while it charges just by using apps. One of the better apps turns your iPad into a weather station patterned after one of those you might find in Brookstone. WeatherStation Free does just that while adding a few tricks of its own.
Fire up WeatherStation Free and at a glance you can see current conditions in your locality including temperature, humidity and heat index (so you can tell if it’s humicidal out), barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, high and low temps and more. You even get a 5-day forecast.
What’s more you can change the background color to one of several different shades and color schemes, some of which are more effective during day or less intrusive at night.
But that’s not all…
You can get all of that for any location. Hit the “Update location” button and a Google Map pops up letting you change where your weather data comes from just by touching it.
The weather info comes from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) so you know it’s about as accurate as you can get.
This is a good iPad-only app and the only thing that’s missing is radar data on the location map. Seems like an obvious fit and I’m amazed the authors didn’t include it.
Even so, WeatherStation Free is well worth the price.
The last app I want to tell you about won’t help you avoid death by perspiration, but it may help you prove that your clattering dishes and dancing knickknacks are not the work of the recently deceased, but rather something potentially far more earth shattering.
Earthquake is an app that lets you know when and where the latest earthquakes have occurred, as well as their magnitude. You can sort the listing by magnitude, location, or date, then view any of the listed locations on a relief map.
Earthquakes are weather stepchildren, they aren’t necessarily atmospheric, but can affect the weather in many ways, so news agencies have always puzzled over how earthquakes should be reported. Unless you’re in an active area, earthquakes don’t occur often enough or intense enough to warrant its own news segment, as weather and sports do. Like the weather, earthquakes can be news worthy, but those events are thankfully rare, so reporting agencies will stick earthquake reports with the weather reports, or ignore them altogether. (It seems Apple can’t decide either as they list earthquake reporting apps in either the weather or news categories.)
Most earthquakes are so minor that people don’t notice them, but they do occur more often than we realize, but none are too minor for the Earthquake app. Once you are viewing an earthquake location you can elect to view the stats for that quake at the U.S. Geological Service (USGS). From there you have access to more quake data including more maps and reports. In fact, it’s the USGS link that makes Earthquake a good free app.
Get Earthquake and see where all the shaking’s going on.
Ok, that’s a wrap for this week. Try to stay out of this humicidal weather so you can be here next week for more Free on iTunes. More free stuff below with direct links.