Looking for the best smartphone weather apps for 2017?
It’s 2017, and things are constantly changing. Gone are the times where it’s necessary to try and remember the odd assortment of weather proverbs:
“Mackerel skies and mares’ tails
Make tall ships carry low sails.”
“If the goose honks high, fair weather.
If the goose honks low, foul weather.”
“If spiders are many and spinning their webs,
The spell will soon be very dry.”
Having the best smartphone weather apps for 2017 within easy access range on your phone keeps the guesswork out of your day–at least when you have a perfect internet connection.
We’ve evolved from more simple times when it seemed necessary to be taking advice from animals, now getting up-to-date weather news on the television and radio. When you need quick, up-to-date guidance on the weather happening around you, the best weather apps are just a click away on your phone. These apps bring forecasts straight to your fingertips, acting as your own personal weatherman when you’re in need on holiday or working outside.
Though advances in technology have helped to create the best weather apps, capable of providing accurate forecasts for up to two weeks ahead of time, they do have their shortcomings, which is why carrying an INO™ Weather Pro weather monitor remains the best way to stay weather-smart. In addition to giving you the temperature, pressure, humidity, heat index, dew point, and altitude, the INO Weather Pro is able to predict lightning up to 40 miles away – something you won’t get from your app, even if you do have a strong internet connection.
Let’s take a look at the best weather apps you can use in addition to a handheld weather monitor.
Paste Magazine declared DarkSky the best overall weather app for 2017, and it’s not hard to understand why. This app ticks all the boxes when it comes to weather monitoring. It has a user-friendly design and interface, detailed weather reports, detailed radar, a day-by-day weather summary, and weather notifications.
Additionally, if you’re comfortable with it, you can choose to contribute to the app’s database by allowing your phone to measure and send periodic pressure data.
NOAA Radar Pro (iOS)
Unfortunately, the NOAA Radar Pro app by Apalon is not free for iOS ($3.99). However, it’s worth the money as it provides real-time radar images on an interactive map, along with comprehensive weather information.
It is Apple Watch compatible, which is a bonus, especially as the app can be set up to send notifications every time a weather alert is issued for your area.
The ability to bookmark locations, easy location searches, and a storm of other features makes this a strong app in the category of best weather apps. If you want to be able to view meteorological maps three different ways—satellite, hybrid and standard—or get 24-hour and 7-day forecasts from the nearest metro station, this is the app for you.
If you’re an Android user, you can download the free NOAA Weather Radar & Alerts app.
Yahoo! Weather (iOS, Android)
The Yahoo! Weather app provides the best-truncated design backed by one of the most reliable weather databases. The clean interface allows you to take a peek at the weather situations for the day without getting swamped with details about the dew point or the heat index.
Of course, if you want to dig into the details, the Yahoo! Weather app provides interactive radar, satellite and heat maps, as well as provides animated sunrise, sunset, wind and pressure modules.
If you’re snapping interesting photos of the weather, you can also add them to Yahoo! Weather by joining #projectweather on Flickr.
RainAware makes our list of the best weather apps because it’s the best storm prediction app, giving you updates on what time a storm is expected to hit your location.
The app updates every minute to stay ahead of ever-changing weather, which allows you to adjust your plans to be safe.
It’s available in more than 13,000 US cities.
Weather Underground (iOS, Android)
Weather Underground (also known as Wunderground) is more for weather enthusiasts than casual observers. Think of it as the Waze for weather.
The database relies on more than 200,000 amateur and professional weather stations to deliver local forecasts. However, it allows crowd reporting to help verify forecasts as you post your own sky and hazard reports.
Though Weather Underground is the oldest online weather service (or maybe because of this), generous access to data can make the app difficult to navigate. However, it is possible to customize and simplify what you see so that the app only shows the weather information you find most interesting or pertinent.
Unlike others on this list, the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) app is more for emergency readiness than weather prediction, making it a good one to have on your phone no matter which of the other best weather apps you download.
The FEMA app allows you to receive reports from the National Weather Service for up to five locations, and also allows you to store safety reminders, tips for natural disasters, and customizable emergency checklists.
In a worse case scenario, it also allows you to locate nearby shelters and speak with FEMA personnel on the phone.
WeatherBug (iOs, Andriod)
WeatherBug won Appy Awards’ “Best Weather App” in 2016. Backed by the largest professional grade weather stations in North America, this app is capable of providing “Spark Lightning Alerts”, where you can receive lightning-fast alerts for a dangerous thunderstorm. In fact, the app claims to be able to provide the alerts 50% faster than their competition. There’s also an Apple Watch app if you use the device.
Combining complete world weather data with high-end gaming technology and stunning graphics, MeteoEarth is the most fun app on the list of the best weather apps. Simple finger commands allow you to zoom in and out as you spin around the world, checking the weather in your hometown before taking a peek at what’s happening in South Africa. Additionally, the ability to pause, rewind and move forward in time through the weather forecast maps is almost as much fun as it is informative.
TheWeatherChannel (iOs, Android)
It should be no surprise to find The Weather Channel app on this list. In addition to its cognitive home screen, which changes based on your location to ensure that you are getting the most relevant weather information, the app has an amazing selection of customizable, real-time weather alerts. Additionally, they offer all of the essentials, such as severe weather alerts and breaking news alerts, as well as lightning alerts, daily rain alerts and pollen alerts. Note the included Apple Watch app.
Not your standard weather app, WeatherShot by InstaWeather makes our list for the best weather apps because it brings something a bit new to the field. The app watermarks interesting weather and location information onto your photos that can then be shared to your social media sites.
There are some complaints about the large watermark on the free version of this app. So, if that’s a deal breaker, upgrade to WeatherShot Pro. Either way, don’t hesitate to make your friends jealous when you’re holidaying in Italy and they’re dealing with a cold front in Minnesota.
While most of the best weather apps focus on giving you the information you need to stay dry and safe from dangerous storms, UVmeter helps keep you healthy when it’s not storming. The single function of the app is to check the UV Index at your current location, giving you the information you need when it comes to how much more sunblock to put on.
If it’s important to you, there is an Apple Watch app for UVmeter.
The Best Weather Apps in 2017
Though the best weather apps are helpful when you have a strong internet connection, at those times when you most need to know what’s happening with the weather, connections can often be weak or nonexistent. To prevent yourself from literally being caught out in the rain and to protect yourself from an inbound lightning storm, the only surefire way to stay on top of weather conditions is with a handheld monitor.
The INO Weather Pro weather monitor gives you lightning detection up to 40 miles away and includes all the meteorological information you expect, such as temperature, pressure, humidity, heat index, dew point, and altitude, in an easy to use device that fits in your pocket.
So, download a couple of the best weather apps and alerts to stay up to date on your phone and other devices, but keep safe out there and pack your weather monitor as well for when connectivity is bad, or a lightning storm is imminent.
See stormy skies? Tag @inotechnologies us in your Weather Instagrams posts—we’ll share our favorites!
It never ceases to amaze us some of the weather myths that just won’t go away. We’re talking the lightning can’t strike the same place twice and hiding under an underpass during a tornado types of myths. They aren’t things to take lightly, and not knowing the difference between fact and fiction could be the difference between life and death.
So, let’s talk about some of the most common misconceptions.
Lightning Myth #1: Lightning won’t strike the same place twice
Let’s start with the obvious: lightning can, in fact, hit the same place twice. Actually, the Empire State Building in New York City is struck by lightning about 23 times a year. It’s not even that unheard of that the same building or structure gets struck multiple times in one storm.
Lightning Myth #2: Heat lightning
Ever been outside on a clear evening with no rain or clouds in sight? Then, all of a sudden, you catch a huge flash out of the corner of your eye. How can this be possible?
It’s commonly misstated as heat lightning. There is actually no such thing as heat lightning, and what you’re seeing is the lightning from a far off storm. But that still doesn’t mean you’re safe. Being struck is certainly less likely the further you get from a storm, but you could still be at risk if you are within 20-40 miles of a storm per the National Fire Protection Agency.
Lightning Myth #3: One mile per second
You can tell your distance from a storm by counting the seconds between when you see lightning and hear thunder, but it’s not the way you’ve always been told. Knowing what we know now, sounds like anything less than a minute is within the danger zone. NOAA and the National Weather Service recommend seeking immediate shelter if your count is less than 30 seconds!
The following table is the correct Flash-to-Bang estimations calculated based on the speed of sound at sea level:
|If thunder is heard||The lightning is . . .|
|5 seconds after a flash||1 mile away|
|10 seconds after a flash||2 miles away|
|15 seconds after a flash||3 miles away|
|20 seconds after a flash||4 miles away|
|25 seconds after a flash||5 miles away|
|30 seconds after a flash||6 miles away|
Contrary to popular belief, storms do not always move from west to east. This is an especially dangerous myth when you try to outrun a hurricane, tornado, or any other storm. Some types of storms – like tornadoes – are especially unpredictable to the uninformed victim. Wondering what does drive the direction? The wind and atmosphere, not your compass.
Earlier we mentioned that hiding under an underpass during a tornado is a bad idea. Wondering why? Wind dynamics. Structures like overpasses cause the wind from a tornado to concentrate and become stronger. This probably sounds weird, but have you ever noticed how a light wind can become a whipping force in a corner or alcove? Same idea.
This myth is going to seem inconsequential, but we all know that heat can be a real killer. It turns out wearing white versus black during the summer has no effect on your body temperature. White clothing reflects sunlight and it also reflects your own internal heat. Black absorbs sunlight but it doesn’t transfer it to your body. Ultimately, the best thing to do is wear loose billowy clothing to allow your body to get rid of its own internal heat, minimize the transfer of heat from sunlight, and take full advantage of the science of evaporation.
Finally, dry heat and humid heat are equally dangerous. Your body is still going to react the same way to 105-degree weather. The only difference is that there’s no tricking your body in humid heat. It’s gross, sticky, and undeniably sweaty. Dry heat makes it a little bit easier to forget just how bad we’re straining our bodies. No matter which hot situation you find yourself in, seek shade, rest often, and keep hydrated.
Avoid myths. Carry an INO Weather Pro™.
We know by now your head is probably spinning a little bit with new knowledge (and wondering what else the world has been lying to you about). We developed our INO Weather Pro™ with you and your safety in mind. Keep facts and science close by with real time measurements, distance from ground to lightning strikes, temperature, and more.
You know lightning when you see it, but did you know there are actually many different types of lightning?
Of course, all lightning is an electrical discharge caused by the charge imbalances between clouds and the ground. When this imbalance strikes a tipping point, discharge of high voltage electricity during a short duration ensures.
Depending on numerous factors, including where the lightning originates, where it ends up, and what charge it carries, you can figure out how to identify several different types of lightning.
Touch the Ground for Good Luck
A common way to categorize types of lightning revolves around where the electrical charges are coming from, and where they are going.
At the beginning of cloud-to-ground (CTG) lightning situations, an invisible flow of weakly charged particles (referred to as a stepped leader) zigzag toward the earth in a forked pattern at an impressive speed of 200,000 mph. The stepped leader is essentially searching for the path of least resistance between the cloud and the ground before lightning strikes.
Branches of the CTG lightning are visible.
CTG lightning can be broken down into two primary types of lightning: positive and negative. A negative CTG (-CG) operates through a negatively charged stepped leader. It can be identified through its downward branching strike, which usually consists of multiple “return strokes”, or pulses of current that illuminate the channel again and again.
The -CG is attracted to a streamer, a tall positively charged object—often a tree or a pole. When these two connect, electric current flows toward the cloud at a rate of 60,000 mph. By doing this, the negative charge from the cloud is moved toward the ground in an attempt to create equilibrium.
Branches of the CTG lightning are visible. However, there are many other types of lightning that may not be.
The other group of CTG is positive (+CG). These are usually associated with supercell thunderstorms, as well as the flat rain clouds, or stratiform, that are behind a cold front squall.
Unlike -CG, this type of lightning can often be identified by a lack of branching. Some branching occurs at higher altitude, but for the most part, witnesses are aware of it as a single stroke of intense, bright lightning. It’s also possible to identify +CG by their loud, deep thunder.
The +CGs only account for about one in every 20 CTGs but are stronger and more destructive than -CGs.
+CGs can be identified from the lack of branching.
Consider the Look of Lightning
Though understanding negative and positive CTG is important for the scientist and meteorologist, it is also possible to categorize types of lightning by what you see as an interested observer. In this way, you can identify Staccato and Forked lightning, as well as a Bolt from the Blue.
Staccato lighting is CTG lightning comprising of a single, short-duration stroke, while Forked lightning splits and divides into two or more parts as it approaches the ground—sometimes looking like tree roots.
A “Bolt from the Blue” often travels a relatively large horizontal distance through clear skies from its source cloud. Then, it angles down and strikes the ground. This type of lightning typically comes from cumulonimbus clouds and can travel for miles into cloudless, blue skies before touching down. Hence, its name.
Additionally, when photographing lightning, you can capture Ribbon lightning, which is caused by strong winds blowing stepped leader channels for lighting sideways during the photo exposure.
A Bolt from the Blue can travel horizontally for miles before striking ground.
Lightning that Stays Inside the Cloud
Though CTG comprises the most iconic types of lightning, intracloud lightning is the most common type of lightning. In these cases, instead of electrical charges moving from a cloud to the ground, they simply bounce to a different part of the same cloud, moving to where there is a significant difference in charge.
It’s the same kind of situation that occurs when there are too many people on one side of a boat, and some need to move to the other side to help balance.
This type of lightning is also referred to as “sheet lightning” because it lights up the entire sky like a big, white sheet. However, intracloud should not be confused with cloud-to-cloud lightning.
The sky lights up when Sheet lightning strikes.
Lightning that Jumps From Cloud to Cloud
Cloud-to-cloud lightning is a rare type of lightning where an electrical charge imbalance exists between two or more separate storm clouds. Again, this should not be confused with intra-cloud lightning.
Lightning Into Thin Air
In the case of cloud-to-air lightning, a cloud discharges into the negatively-charged air around it but does not strike the ground or transfer the charge to another part of itself or another cloud. This lightning is often something you might also see when watching CTG lightning, though it can happen independently of CTG lightning strikes. Basically, all branches of CGT lightning that don’t touch the ground can be considered cloud-to-air lightning.
Lightning that Goes the Other Direction
Ground-to-cloud lightning, or upward moving lightning, is the opposite of CTG lightning. This type of lightning occurs when the discharge is initiated by an object on the ground, usually something tall, such as a skyscraper. Like CTG, it can carry a positive or negative charge.
Lightning in the Heat
Though often thought about as a distinct type of lightning, heat lightning is nothing more than one of the other types of lightning flashing very far away. In these cases, it is possible to see the lightning, but you don’t hear anything. You can’t hear anything because of how far away the storm is. Regardless of whether or not you can hear it, there is always thunder when there is lightning.
Heat lightning got its name because it often occurs during hot summer nights. It’s also a pretty good indicator that a storm is coming your way. Of course, no indicator is quite as accurate as a pocket-sized INO Weather Pro weather monitor, which gives you the capability of detecting lightning up to 40 miles away.
Though you might not hear the thunder when you see heat lightning, it’s definitely there.
Who Knows Sprites and Jets?
Large thunderstorms are capable of producing rare phenomena known as transient luminous events (TLEs). Though TLEs are not well understood by scientists, they have identified two types: red sprites and blue jets.
Sprites appear as vertical red columns above a cloud. They are fairly weak flashes of light that cannot be seen by the human eye. Blue jets, however, can be seen with the naked eye. Though they come from the top of a thunder cloud, there are records of pilots witnessing these strange TLEs.
Knowing The Various Types of Lightning
Though several types of lightning are not actually dangerous to people, it is important to be aware of all types of lightning and take precautions. For example, when witnessing CTG lightning, it is especially important to remain in a safe place.
It turns out that the average American has a one in 5,000 chance of being struck by lightning, while more than 2,000 people each year are killed by lightning. Though a few hundred survive being struck by lightning and are able to tell us what it feels like to be hit by lightning, it’s best to exercise caution and educate yourself about these power surges of electricity.
Without a doubt, you’re an unlucky person if you get struck by lightning–but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Because of this possibility, it’s hard not to wonder what it would feel like having all that powerful electricity surge through your body.
You may be surprised to find out that if you do get zapped by lightning, you’re likely to survive. According to Dr. David Claypool of Mayo Clinic, whether or not you are hit directly or indirectly will have a huge impact on how your body is affected by the incident.
What happens after you’re struck by lightning can vary dramatically. Last May, lightning struck an unprotected hut in Zimbabwe, killing 21 people. On the opposite end of the spectrum of that African tragedy stands Roy Sullivan, famous for being hit by lightning on seven different occasions! By examining these extremes, and all the stories from survivors and bystanders between them, it’s possible to grasp what it really feels like to be struck by lightning.
Getting Hit by 1 Billion Volts, Deep within The Skin
Jamie Santana‘s family regained consciousness on the ground of their home after a lightning struck.
Jamie did not.
Jamie and his brother-in-law, Alejandro Torres, had turned their horses around because of the oncoming storm. They were nearly home when Jamie was hit by lightning.
Their neighbor, a paramedic and a firefighter, rushed out to assist him. Flames jumped from Jamie’s chest as his body smoked, the cowboy hat he had been wearing had a hole blown through it. The neighbor immediately started performing CPR, which was essential to giving Jamie a chance of survival.
On the way to the hospital, paramedics struggled to stabilize Jamie’s heart rhythm. In addition to heart failure, the lightning burned about 17 percent of his body and caused severe brain trauma.
After 131 days, spent at four hospitals, Jamie was released. However, doctors said it would take years before he recovered.
Struck by Lightning: Unexplainable Pain
Unlike Jamie, Justin Gauger, another lightning-strike survivor, is able to vividly recall the experience.
Justin’s wife caught the lightning strike on camera from inside her vehicle as she avoided a hail storm. However, it’s impossible to make out the lightning hitting Justin.
When the lightning hit him, Justin felt his whole body stop. He was surrounded by white light as the world began to move in slow motion. Bystanders rushed to Justin’s smoking body after he was hit.
Though the memory of being out fishing with his family when he was hit by lightning is clear, Justin struggles to find the words to describe the pain that surged through his body. As close as Justin could get to depicting the actual feeling was the analogy of putting your finger in a light socket. However, this time the current was exponentially stronger as it surged throughout his body.
Short-term and Long-term effects of being Struck By Lightning
Those who have been struck by lightning often suffer a variety of short-term and long-term effects depending on a number of variables:
- Did the lightning strike them directly or indirectly?
- What clothing were they wearing?
- What did they have in their pockets at the time?
Immediately after being struck by lightning, there can be issues with your vision and hearing, due to the bright flash of lightning and the booming clap of thunder. In Justin’s case, his ears were ringing immediately after being hit. According to Dr. Claypool, lightning can cause temporary blindness and can potentially rupture an eardrum.
These, however, are minor issues when compared to serious burns, chronic pain, and head trauma that could lead to memory issues and other long-term ailments that can occur if you’re struck by lightning. As in Jamie’s case, some of these effects can last years, if not a lifetime.
Burns and Brain Effects when Struck by Lightning
It’s possible that the burns on your body after you’ve been struck by lightning will look insignificant. Dr. Claypool describes the burns as Lichtenberg figures or just “lines”. However, the damage done by the heat can be more than skin deep. These electrical burns can cause serious internal damage, especially to the muscles, heart, or brain.
Mary Ann Cooper, a retired Chicago emergency physician, and long-time lightning researcher points out that brain injuries that can occur when a person is struck by lightning can cause strain in your overall life. The damage can cause personality changes, mood swings, or depression. These changes can impact your relationships with family members and your spouse.
According to Cooper, electrical shock to the brain can have the same impact as an electrical shock to a computer – it scrambles everything up. Thinking of it this way, the lightning essentially rewires your brain. Though everything might look fine on the outside, the surge may have damaged the software within.
A Body That Becomes a Soup Inside Clothes
Lightning-strike victims struggle to describe the pain and sensations of millions of volts of electricity passing through their bodies. Many simply say that the experience is unthinkable. Others are more creative in their analogies and descriptions.
In a collection of experiences of being struck by lightning published by Business Insider, Betsy Smith explains that it felt like her entire body become a soup inside her clothes. Her left arm was severely burned in the incident and one of her fingers actually had to be amputated.
Brock Nevill was 15 years old when the tree he was leaning against was hit by lightning. After being bedridden for three months due to heart failure, he developed an allergy to metals.
Another survivor described the pain as “being stung by 10,000 wasps from inside out”. He suffered nervous system damage. To this day, he experiences severe mood swings and insomnia.
What it Feels Like to be Struck By Lightning
There is a one in 1,042,000 chance of being struck by lightning in the US in any given year, according to the National Weather Service. Though the chances are slim of being hit by lightning, an average 51 people are killed by lightning every year, reports NOAA.
In the US, the only weather condition that kills more people each year is flooding. Though natural disasters are hard to predict, basic precautions can help safeguard you from lightning. The most important step is to avoid wide open spaces (such as golf courses), and water (such as lakes) when lightning storms are approaching.
Though each person struck by lightning can feel different effects due to numerous factors, it’s obviously something best left to our imaginations, as the reality of being hit by lightning can cause short-term and long-term damage that may change life as you know it, forever.
To keep yourself as safe as possible, invest in a lightning detection system, like the INO Weather Pro. In addition to detecting lightning up to 40 miles away, this self-contained device measures temperature, pressure, humidity, heat index, dew point, and altitude. For those out of cell range, it works without the need to connect to the internet, instead directly interpreting the signals from your surrounding environment.
Consider all the occupations where the ‘office’ is outdoors:
· Highways and road crews
· Airport ground personnel
· Power utility repair
· Heavy equipment operation
· Farming and field labor
Lightning is an often overlooked occupational hazard, despite the many weather-related injuries that occur worldwide to those whose jobs require extensive time spent outdoors. INO Technologies is aiming to change that with their personal, portable weather monitor that works to keep outdoor workers out of harm’s way when potentially dangerous storms or excessive heat or cold develop.
Wouldn’t it bring you peace of mind to have an affordable, personal, portable weather monitor to take with you to our outside job every day? You would have a reliable and accurate way to monitor approaching storms anywhere you are and get yourself to safety before disaster strikes in the form of lightning, hail, high winds, extreme heat and extreme cold.
How does a handheld weather monitor work?
A cluster of electronic sensors for temperature, barometric pressure, lightning detection, humidity, and more are housed in a single hand-held device to assist you in gathering information about what the weather is doing where you are working. The device’s display screen shows you current weather data, including how far impending lightning strikes are, for your location without using the internet or a cellular connection.
Armed with this array of easy to understand weather data, people who work outdoors can pay close attention to what is happening in their environment and act promptly to get themselves and coworkers to a safe place (and not go back outside too soon after a storm has passed).
OSHA has published a number of documents on staying safe when working outdoors, including reducing lightning hazards, winter weather precautions, and occupational heat stress. For more OSHA resources, click here.
Contrary to popular belief, Colorado lightning can strike twice. After all, there is no way to completely evade lightning–it is a natural phenomenon. The Denver area recently experienced two separate lightning-related accidents that transpired in early May 2017.
In the first situation, a woman was watching a Little League baseball game in Highlands Ranch. According to reports from others at the game, she was sitting under a tent, which was allegedly under a tree. This situation put her at greater risk than normal to be struck by lightning. Luckily for this woman, her injuries were non-threatening, though she was taken to a local hospital for further monitoring.
In the second situation of Colorado lightning, another woman was riding her horse on a recreational trail in Douglas County when she and her horse were struck by lightning. The woman was riding with another person, a teenager, who also got struck by lightning. In the teenager’s case, she made it out of the situation with severe injuries but lived to tell the tale. But for the woman and her horse, the lightning strike was fatal. It was reported that the riders saw signs of lightning and were trying to stay ahead of the storm while meeting up with another person.
According to National Weather Service data, lightning killed 38 people last year, the most since 2007, when 45 people died. These deaths certainly don’t account for the majority of fatal accidents (like driving accidents), but every single one of them is largely preventable with the right preparation and education.
What to do When There’s a Storm and You’re Stuck Outdoors
The two aforementioned situations of dangerous Colorado lightning strikes are painful to imagine but offer the opportunity to educate outdoors enthusiasts and sports teams (and their loyal fans) on how to deal with a storm when you’re stuck outdoors.
- Avoid high places, like isolated trees, open fields, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, communications towers, flagpoles, light poles, and bleachers.
- Go indoors if possible. Even a car can be an ideal shelter from a lightning strike. Just make sure that the windows are closed!
- Assume the lightning position. Crouch as low as you can with as little of yourself touching the ground. When lightning strikes the ground, it causes electric currents on the top of the ground that can be deadly up to 100 feet away. In the case of the woman on the horse in the aforementioned case of Colorado lightning, the lightning strike killed her from 10 feet away.
- When you get inside, avoid using the telephone, running water or touching conductive surfaces like metal door frames.
There’s also something to be said about learning how to detect lightning and other stormy weather patterns.
Detecting Colorado Lightning and Weather Patterns
Thunder is an indicator that lightning is near, but you never really know how near. By using the popular Flash to Bang Method, you’ll only ever get a rough estimate. Because of this, when it comes to safety, you don’t want to compromise and leave it all to chance.
For a more precise way to detect lightning (and other dangerous weather), INO Technologies created The Weather Pro, a handheld weather device that reads a number of weather measurements (temperature, humidity, pressure, heat index, dew point, and altitude) in a small handy touch screen device. It is, in fact, the only handheld weather device that includes lightning detection.
For outdoors enthusiasts or sports teams in a bad weather, it’s the perfect tool for prevention, because there’s no need for cellular or internet signal thanks to its own built-in sensors.
Colorado Lightning Does Strike Twice
Lightning strikes are rare, but potentially deadly if proper precaution isn’t taken. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so consider investing in the INO Weather Pro if you’re the type that finds yourself frequently enjoying the great outdoors–and want to avoid the painful possibilities of Colorado lightning!
When we think of weather-related dangers during the summer months, our minds tend to wander towards the catastrophic. Things like tornadoes, floods, fires, or hurricanes. Even lightning is frightening. But are these huge events really the things we should be worried about, day in and day out? On average, heat index kills and hospitalizes more people than all of these other things combined.
Heat index is a basic calculation using temperature and relative humidity and is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. The National Weather Service (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put together this easy to use chart to explain the relationship.
As you can see, the dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion can start to set in at temperatures as low as 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As humidity rises, you quickly get into the Extreme Caution and Danger zones.
Physical activity also contributes to your body’s ability to withstand high heat indexes. The more humid the air around you becomes, the more difficult it is for your sweat to evaporate and cool your body properly.
Heat Index – the silent killer
As noted in the article that accompanies the chart above, the heat index numbers were calculated assuming shady and light wind conditions. However, when we’re out hiking, working, and enjoying the outdoors, chances are we’re in direct sunlight and there may or may not be any wind. This can intensify heat index up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Your round of golf on the back nine just got a little riskier under the “right” conditions.
Additionally, it goes on to say that “strong winds, particularly with very hot, dry air, can be extremely hazardous.” This might sound contrary to what was just said about heat index, but having spent time in Death Valley, CA, I can tell you it’s true.
We all know that “dry heat” doesn’t feel as hot as “humid heat.” We also know that a light breeze can make us feel cooler too. So not only does the dry heat make us feel cool, but the breeze makes us feel cool, too; and both occurring at the same time makes us feel extra cool. It makes it easy to forget that we’re outside straining our bodies in 105 degree weather in direct sunlight. A quick look at the chart and we see that it only needs to be about 47% humidity and we’re in extreme danger. (Not to mention how much these conditions dehydrate our bodies, exacerbating the onset of heat exhaustion.)
Heat Index is everyone’s problem
It has become (or ‘still is,’ depending on how you view it) such a major issue this year that Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints is taking part in a public awareness campaign and speaking about his experiences with it.
Tragically, there seems to be at least one high-profile death every year from athletes being exposed and not carefully monitored while practicing and playing in these conditions.
In 2001, Korey Stringer, a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings, collapsed during training camp and never recovered. In 2011, a Dutch music promoter and his girlfriend died hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. In 2014, Dave Legeno, perhaps best known for his role in ‘Harry Potter,’ collapsed while hiking in Death Valley. In this 2009 article on Live Science, they cite an annual report from the University of North Carolina that states, “Since 1995, 33 football players have died from heat stroke.”
Don’t let heat index win
Now that you know what heat index is and just how dangerous it can be, here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe this summer:
Check the weather and use common sense
If it’s going to be 90 degrees and 75% humidity, you’re already in the danger zone. If you were planning to go on a 40 mile bike ride, see if you can postpone it a day or go in the evening when it’s cooler.
Seek shade, rest often
If you have to be out in Danger or Extreme Danger conditions, find as much shade as possible as frequently as possible. Don’t let your body heat up to the point you can’t cool it down naturally.
Drink a lot of water
By ingesting cool water, we can slightly decrease our core temperature momentarily. On top of that, making sure that we’re well hydrated ensures we have enough fluids to produce sweat (our bodies’ natural cooling mechanism).
Watch for signs of heat exhaustion
WebMD lists these common symptoms of heat exhaustion:
Dizziness and light-headedness
Lack of sweating despite the heat
Red, hot, and dry skin
Muscle weakness or cramps
Nausea and vomiting
Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
Rapid, shallow breathing
Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
Carry an INO Weather Pro™
We’re a bit biased, but we think this could solve a lot of problems for solo athletes, coaches, trainers, crew chiefs, and just about anyone that loves to be active or works outdoors. Not only does it provide temperature and humidity as separate measurements, but it does the heat index calculation for you and provides that as well.
Have fun and stay safe out there!
An interesting article from ListVerse lists 10 ‘bizarre’ lightning phenomena as impressive as the lightning itself. To read the full list, click here.
· Restoring sight to the blind – a truck driver was blinded in a traffic accident. Nine years later his sight was miraculously restored when he was struck by lightning after taking shelter under a tree. Later that evening his vision began to clear, eventually restoring his ability to read.
Lightning Cures Cancer
· Curing Cancer – in 1932 a man suffering from a diagnosis of terminal cancer and near the end of his life way laying in a hammock outside which was threaded with metal wires. Lightning struck the trees around his hammock and an electrical blast surged through the man, blowing off the bottom of his shoes. Inexplicably, the lightning cured his cancer.
· Creating temporary tattoos: ‘lightning flower’ or ‘lightning tree’ is a reddish feathery or fern-like fractal pattern sometimes seen on the neck or torso of lightning victims. The marks are temporary and usually appear within an hour or two of being struck. The marks are formed due to capillary damage and vary from person to person.
· “Weird, strange, and unbelievable” sounds known as whistlers were first detected by a listening station aboard the US Navy icebreaker Atka in the ’50s. They had a musical quality, described as a high- to low-pitched tone resembling a partial wolf whistle, and they originate when lightning discharges emit electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere. The waves travel along lines of force in Earth’s magnetic field, circle the planet in seconds, and return to the point of origin (hence the descending pitch). These sounds can be picked up with a special receiver and a long antenna.
Read a related article from NBC News about what a lightning strike might do to your skin. Click here.
The 30/30 Rule
Many of us have heard that if you determine the lightning distance from you to a strike by counting the number of seconds between hearing thunder and seeing a lightning strike, that is how far away in miles the lightning is (not true). This notion is actually called “flash-to-bang” method because of the time between seeing and hearing lightning. Flash-to-bang is real, but not in the way we have traditionally believed.
Statistics show that the majority of people who are struck by lightning are struck before or after a thunderstorm, not during it. Given that lightning injuries often last a lifetime, it is wise to know with scientific accuracy just how far away lightning really is from where you are when a thunderstorm is clearly present.
Lightning comes first and subsequently, thunder. Seeing and hearing lightning and thunder can be used to protect yourself and others if you understand the 30/30 Rule. The first 30 is 30 seconds. If it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing a lightning flash, the probability of being struck by lighting is great because the lightning is within 6 miles of your location. At this time one should seek proper shelter from the storm and remain in that shelter for 30 minutes (the second 30) after hearing the last thunder.
The Correct Method to Calculate Lightning Distance
The following table is the correct Flash-to-Bang estimations calculated based on the speed of sound at sea level:
|If thunder is heard||The lightning is . . .|
|5 seconds after a flash||1 mile away|
|10 seconds after a flash||2 miles away|
|15 seconds after a flash||3 miles away|
|20 seconds after a flash||4 miles away|
|25 seconds after a flash||5 miles away|
|30 seconds after a flash||6 miles away|
NOAA and the National Weather Service recommend seeking immediate shelter when lightning is 6 miles or less of your location. To download a free copy of our wallet-sized lightning safety card click HERE.