RadarScope obtains the raw NEXRAD radar data from the 159 National Weather Service Doppler radars, some in super resolution, in the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico and displays tweather patterns, such as thunderstorms and other weather effects, on your iOS device. In addition, it displays predicted storm tracks plus severe weather and flash flood text warnings from the NWS. The visual presentation is just amazing.
Unlike some other apps, the images aren't smoothed PNG or GIF images, and the data remains in its original radial format.
Northern Colorado, 18 July 2013
This app is, at once, extremely easy to use and informative but also very technically capable. To achieve that is no mean feat for any developer. To first order, if you want to see the raw data, color coded for intensity, as is customary, you can get an instant feel for thunderstorm activity in any part of the U.S. It's agenda free; you don't have to enter a ZIP code or identify your location. You can just swipe across the U.S. to see an area of interest.
But then, as you explore further, you discover that it surfaces to the user a lot of the raw radar data that you can learn about and then use to customize your view. For example, you can select from different reflectivity options: Base, Classic and Composite reflectivity. You can select from several different tilt angles used by the radar, from 0.5 to 4.0 degrees above the horizon.
All these options are expertly explained on the support pages. While few of us are meteorologists, trained in using the various modes of the radar, the explanations are clear enough that one can learn, explore, and begin to appreciate the app as time goes on. For example, if you're in an exceptionally hilly area, you may want to adjust the tilt angle to avoid ground clutter. But you don't have to be an expert to spot really strong thunderstorm cells and the direction of movement, and that's what makes this app so useful.
The documentation is fantastic.
I liked everything about this app. The graphics and use of the display space is excellent, even on the smaller iPhone display. But it really shines on the iPad. The documentation is superb. There is access to a spotter network. You can, optionally mark your own exact location. You can view all the warnings, nationwide so that you can be aware of weather affecting friends and family. You can set favorite locations. The pinch zooming is fast and smooth. Within the states, the county borders are shown, and you can turn on/off the major city locations/labels. The reflectivity mode, radar tilt angle being used and the time of last update are displayed at the bottom.
While the radar image isn't updated on every animated sweep, the documentation in the "Update Interval" section explains why the image is updated every five to ten minutes.
Support is easy to find, plentiful.
The only thing that may give some customers pause is the price. But there's value here. This is not a 99 cent game. It's a technical app that you'll use in the course of weather awareness and safety for yourself and family. Apps of that nature, without distracting ads like this one, will cost more than toys.
RadarScope 2.0.6 is compatible with any iOS device, is optimized for iPhone 5, and requires iOS 5.1 or later. It is localized for English only.