Stay Dry and See the Future
March 26, 2013 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Forecast.io is a new global weather data service announced yesterday. It boasts smoothly animating radar maps that predict up to a week in advance, a "time machine" to let you explore past and future weather, and intelligent text summaries.

Forecast.io is an evolution of Dark Sky, a Kickstarter project from late 2011 to create an iPhone app for hyperlocal precipitation forecasts. They'll tell you whether you should hop on your bike now to head to lunch before it starts raining harder, or wait another 20 minutes for it to let up.

In addition to desktop and mobile web apps, they're releasing a developer API so you can use their data to power your own apps.
posted by duien (67 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sorry, but you'll need to update your version of Firefox

Man, this reminds me of trying to do online banking back in 2002.
posted by crapmatic at 2:36 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


See also Weatherspark.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:38 PM on March 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


See also Weatherspark.

Forecast looks like it has the advantage on pricing, offering 1000 free API calls per day. Makes it a bit easier for hobbyists to fool around with.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:40 PM on March 26, 2013


It looks nice, but I entered my exact location and it said currently cloudy and remaining mostly cloudy for the next hour.
If I look outside it's sunny with barely a cloud in the sky.
posted by rocket88 at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2013


Damn, does that ui look nice.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:42 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any other weather sites that don't suck (especially with good mobile interfaces)? I was actually thinking of doing an AskMe about this...
posted by schmod at 2:43 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great name! All hail the wild wonderful wizardry of Forecastio!
posted by nickrussell at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


It looks nice, but I entered my exact location and it said currently cloudy and remaining mostly cloudy for the next hour.
If I look outside it's sunny with barely a cloud in the sky.


Dark Sky has had some problems in some locations with this, I've heard. I don't think I've ever had a bad set of data that I've noticed, but I've seen tweet reports of people occasionally getting weird data like that returned. They're still ironing some kinks out, I think.

It's funny how quickly developers have rushed to this space. Seems like it was just a few months ago that tech writers were pointing out that you could have good looking weather applications and information-rich weather applications, but not both. After awhile it seemed like a new one was coming out every two weeks.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:46 PM on March 26, 2013


Living in San Francisco I just need a single site that says:

Bring a jacket? Y / Ⓝ
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:46 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like it. Looks like I can golf this Saturday.
posted by zzazazz at 2:51 PM on March 26, 2013


I was a Weather Underground fan since the early days (text based access), and, because it was in Ann Arbor, it was double neat!

But, it has failed to grow up with the rest of the web, it's clunky and slow..... It might be time to change, these are sort of neat!
posted by HuronBob at 2:53 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]



Living in San Francisco I just need a single site that says:

Bring a jacket? Y / Ⓝ


A single serving site that says YES all the time would likely be safe.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:55 PM on March 26, 2013 [9 favorites]



Living in San Francisco I just need a single site that says:
Bring a jacket? Y / Ⓝ

This is pretty close.
posted by stilldavid at 2:56 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bring a jacket? Y / Ⓝ
posted by crayz at 2:56 PM on March 26, 2013


I am Forecastio.

I need bits for my data hole.

Come out with your APIs showing.
posted by pjm at 2:57 PM on March 26, 2013 [19 favorites]


It looks nice, but I entered my exact location and it said currently cloudy and remaining mostly cloudy for the next hour.
If I look outside it's sunny with barely a cloud in the sky.


If your profile location is correct, it looks like you're just outside the area where they have hyperlocal forecasts. The non-US coverage is, sadly, not quite up to par with what they've got in the US. It sounds like they're going to keep refining the data going forward.
posted by duien at 2:57 PM on March 26, 2013


I have a friend who works for the Met Office here in the UK and she claims that any prediction more than three days in advance is never accurate and shouldn't be trusted. Doesn't stop people posting on her Facebook wall asking if it's going to rain over the weekend, though.
posted by fight or flight at 2:59 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do like a UI that makes me feel like a spy or a supervillian with a weather control machine.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:03 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who else put in his/her birthday & place to see what the weather was like when you were born?

Is that a sign of narcissism?
posted by MoxieProxy at 3:03 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Forecast.io says it will be raining here all week. I would like to return this forecaster and exchange it for one that says it will be sunny.
posted by chavenet at 3:03 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that a sign of narcissism?

yes, and you should feel bad.
posted by HuronBob at 3:06 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


In San Francisco we have maybe 10 days a year when you don't have to bring a jacket. And a scarf. And maybe a hat, just in case you're going from the Mission to the Sunset.
posted by rtha at 3:14 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It looks nice, but I entered my exact location and it said currently cloudy and remaining mostly cloudy for the next hour.
If I look outside it's sunny with barely a cloud in the sky."


It's got the weather mostly right for me (humid, mostly cloudy, sprinkling until evening - it's still early morning here but it's looks like it will be).

Pity the units used are a mix of correct (wind in km/h) and wrong (visiblity in miles not km; barometric pressure in millibars not hectopascals [yeah, I know, but...]). And it insists on using °F even when I manually choose °C.
posted by Pinback at 3:14 PM on March 26, 2013


put in his/her birthday & place to see what the weather was like when you were born

Whoa, it was gorgeous that day! Well, that explains everything.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:24 PM on March 26, 2013


I would like to return this forecaster and exchange it for one that says it will be sunny.

For $20/month I will send you a daily text message saying "ITS GONNA BE REAL NICE TODAY". Upgrade to proper spelling, grammar, and capitalization for just $10/month additional. Send your friends a one-time forecast on their birthday or other special occasion for only $5!
posted by echo target at 3:25 PM on March 26, 2013


Oh...I love that time machine! As a weather geek who remembers the weather, with great specificity, on specific days over 30 years ago, I can tell you that it is very accurate.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:25 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for how accurate it is in the US, where they seem to have better data, but it's looking pretty dreadful for Australia. It's claiming a maximum of 25C today for Hobart. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is saying 30. I assume they're basing things on global numerical models, rather than deferring to local predictions, and that's understandable without a data agreement with the BOM. I love the animated maps of rain bands passing over, however.
posted by Jimbob at 3:47 PM on March 26, 2013


Okay I need to know how it's doing its time machine, though, because it's looking scarily close.
posted by Jimbob at 3:51 PM on March 26, 2013


I started entering my city and it defaulted to a precise street address about half a mile from my house. WTF?
posted by davebush at 3:54 PM on March 26, 2013


Very pretty. In terms of data:
- doesn't seem to give me the dewpoint, just the humidity (and that only by going into the details)
- Wind only seems to come up on the details [aka time machine]
- Wind is measured as "in which direction is it blowing", when my understanding is that the normal meteorological convention is "from where is it coming".
- I'm not seeing a "gusts up to" for the wind. Given that I have experienced days where the normal wind chill was -35 and the gusting wind chill was -50, this is a pretty big lapse.

I will stick with the Weather Office.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:10 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm in the US and it's wrong here too. It says it's sprinkling and cloudy and it's not raining at all and mostly sunny.
posted by interplanetjanet at 4:14 PM on March 26, 2013


I think it's monitoring metafilter. I just reloaded the page and now it says mostly cloudy and not raining.
posted by interplanetjanet at 4:16 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you ever want historical data, Weather Graphics publishes a great set of weather archive DVDs with historical weather observations going back some 80 years. Basically METARs for thousands of stations, fairly clean data. I believe WeatherSpark uses it, I used it for my own WindHistory site, too.

Forecast is neat but seems a bit gimmicky; the hyperlocal Dark Sky app seems more useful to me. It's a shame Wunderground hasn't improved, they have some uniquely amazing data with so many amateur-run weather stations. I assume now that the Weather Channel bought them it will never become more interesting.
posted by Nelson at 4:21 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's beautiful. Dark Sky has its problems (while it does a scarily good job with rain, it struggles with accurately predicting snow start/stop times) but I've found it useful.

For me this hits the sweet spot between Dark Sky immediate "should I get on my bike right now" type info, and the National Weather Service page I have bookmarked for longer term planning. Just the right amount of data for all but the most weather-specific activities so I can plan not only my morning commute, but my day or even my week.

I immediately installed this on my iPhone home screen and moved the official Apple (Yahoo) weather app off into a folder somewhere. This is what I always wanted that app to be.
posted by misskaz at 4:22 PM on March 26, 2013


This is amazing only because it was the first weather app I've seen in the past 24hrs (I use several daily) to alert me that it will be 75F on Sunday here in Oregon and OH MY GOD IT WILL BE 75F SUNDAY.
posted by mathowie at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2013


Hm. I'll stick with Full Screen Weather.
posted by desjardins at 4:46 PM on March 26, 2013


I love how it selects seemingly random locations if you just type in a country name. If you type in "New Zealand" you get the weather for Karamea Hwy, Seddonville, New Zealand. If you type "USA" you get the weather for Dayton, Oregon. If you type in "Australia", "Canada", or "Russia" you get the weather for "Middle of Nowhere" (different middle of nowhere for each country).

Also asking for weather relating to the Pacific Ocean (yeah - I know) gives me weather for Watsi Kengo, Democratic Republic of Congo. Asking for the Atlantic Ocean at least gets you close.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:55 PM on March 26, 2013


I love how it selects seemingly random locations if you just type in a country name.

You think that's silly. I tried typing in "The Moon", and it came back with Sylacauga, AL.
posted by Jimbob at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2013


You think that's silly. I tried typing in "The Moon", and it came back with Sylacauga, AL

No results for Metafilter, though meta filter and meta-filter both give you the weather for San Martín, Colombia (82F, partly cloudy).
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:04 PM on March 26, 2013


Not sure what that page was doing but it made the fan on my laptop spin furiously. When I check Task Manager, I see that CPU goes from 9% up to 45% when I open that page. Shouldn't take that many cycles just to show me the weather.
posted by octothorpe at 5:04 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I typed in Mordor and got Madrid, Spain. I always did think Sauron was a master at the flamenco.
posted by Cash4Lead at 5:12 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


It just told me the ice in our driveway has officially been declared a glacier.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:16 PM on March 26, 2013


I love the fact that I click "⁰C" and it fades away, and then comes back... with the temperatures all still in the incomprehensible Fahrenheit scale. Delightful. Next!
posted by mr. strange at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2013


Yeah, the API reports temperatures in F by default, even. Come on guys. Get with the program.
posted by Jimbob at 5:24 PM on March 26, 2013


I love Dark Sky not as a weather app I check, but as a notification about when it's going to rain or snow in my location. I've had it for 6 months and it's almost always right.

Besides that all I need is a web link to NOAA for my zip code and the app RadarScope.
posted by stltony at 5:50 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, but what about the weather on Io?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:53 PM on March 26, 2013


2bucksplus: "Bring a jacket? Y / Ⓝ"

You live in San Francisco. The answer is always Y.

San Francisco weather is best understood as a kind of Lamarckian ecosystem where the clothing everyone has is summed and aggregated so that the weather can be annoying for absolutely everyone.

If you bring the jacket, it will be sunny and clear, but you will have something to protect your butt when you sit on the inexplicably just-overwatered grass. If you don't bring the jacket, the weather will be hail mixed with flying squirrels, and you will catch a cold.

Always bring the jacket. Always.
posted by scrump at 6:21 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was all about weatherspark until I realized there's no way to get precipitation *amount*. Plus there's no information about hazardous weather warnings. Forecastio wants me to upgrade Firefox which, pfff.

I find NWS to be much simpler. Text, no garbled URL (after you find your location), links to special hazard, etc. Plus it's where most of the other sites scrape from anyway.
posted by DU at 6:36 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oops! Google Chrome could not connect to forecast.io

Weatherspark, though? Just fine.
posted by Foosnark at 7:10 PM on March 26, 2013


It looks great for what it does but I wish it did a temperature map as well as the precipitation map. In a lot of cases that's more important.
posted by localroger at 7:43 PM on March 26, 2013


Oh, and if your version of FireFox isn't updating itself now, it has arthritis and grey hair and wants me to get off its lawn.
posted by localroger at 7:44 PM on March 26, 2013


I started entering my city and it defaulted to a precise street address about half a mile from my house. WTF?

The geolocation information for a given city name is usually the site of City Hall. I imagine they do a reverse address lookup based on the latitude and longitude, so the address it gives you is probably within a block or so of your town's City Hall.
posted by stopgap at 7:46 PM on March 26, 2013


I find NWS to be much simpler. Text, no garbled URL (after you find your location), links to special hazard, etc. Plus it's where most of the other sites scrape from anyway.

Except it's consistently wrong in some places. It tends to overpredict rain in Minneapolis, but it's not too bad overall. However, nothing's as bad as when WeatherUnderground had their thermometer in Berkeley positioned so it was in the sun every morning.
posted by hoyland at 7:48 PM on March 26, 2013


Thank god for the text snippets. I don't understand the fancypants iOS weather apps that display a stylized image of a raincloud and bury the actually useful information behind a series of taps and swipes.
posted by danb at 8:18 PM on March 26, 2013


I just checked the time machine for August 19, 1991, when we took a direct hit from Cat 2 Hurricane Bob. For my location, the official condition for 2 PM that day was 75 degrees and "violently windy" (steady wind of 74 mph out of the SE). This is accurate. But their use of terms like "violently" to describe weather conditions is not conventional meteorological parlance.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:24 PM on March 26, 2013


I entered October 29, 2012 (Hurricane Sandy) for New York:

Rain and windy throughout the day, with a high temperature of 62° around 6 PM, and a low of 55° around 3 AM. The sun rose at 7:23 AM and set at 5:58 PM.

You don't say! It also got the 35 miles per hour wind speed.
posted by sweetkid at 8:56 PM on March 26, 2013


PS Celsius seems to be working fine.
posted by sweetkid at 8:57 PM on March 26, 2013


Celsius works fine for me, though it took me a while to find out where to switch it. The rest of it? As others have commented, the non-US data is pretty lamentable. They will pry the BOM from my cold, dead hands. Or the cold, dead internets. Or something.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:23 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


but, I know this information.
posted by mattoxic at 3:52 AM on March 27, 2013


Oh, and if your version of FireFox isn't updating itself now, it has arthritis and grey hair and wants me to get off its lawn.

The absolute worst thing about the new FireFox is the fact that it constantly harasses me to download new bugs.

At home, I'm able to use IceWeasel, which is Debian's rebranded FireFox. The nice thing there is I can get updates that fix bugs but leave the features stable. At a time of my choosing, unharassed, I can upgrade to a new set of stable features that will also have bug fixes applied over time.

The way an OS should be run.
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on March 27, 2013


Yup, no automatic features updates, just like MSIE! That's why half the users on the Internet can't run advanced browser web sites like this very weather site here. It's using LocalStorage to cache your location, some sort of application caching mechanism to prevent Javascript reloads, not to mention the Canvas it is using to render the map itself. All great web technology that makes for a better user experience, all stuff the developer has to build a workaround for the poor unfortunates stuck running MSIE 7 or MSIE 8 running the way an OS "should" be run. Oh and for the few luddites who deliberately avoid upgrading browsers because they think they know better. The site probably doesn't work with NoScript, either.
posted by Nelson at 7:08 AM on March 27, 2013


Wow, a lot of hostility towards people that want to be in charge of their own computers, not some bonehead web designer with the latest whizbang, bug-addled nonsense.

Don't worry, there are automatic update features. But at the user-controlled, OS level. Not embedded inside of every application, with no awareness of how upgrading itself will break everyone else. I get the new features after a couple years of testing has flushed out most of the problems. Looks like IceWeasel is based on FF 3.5.10, which came out in late 2010. I hope that doesn't break the hearts of too many web developers who can't even use plain HTML anymore.
posted by DU at 7:17 AM on March 27, 2013


Oh I have no hostility towards someone who chooses to run ancient technology, just bafflement. You're welcome to get your weather from this 1998-era NWS site. For that matter, images in web browsers are still kind of an experimental feature and not strictly necessary; perhaps textual radar summaries are what you want.

My complaint is with the way Microsoft decided to not ship feature updates to MSIE users, who used to be the vast majority of the web. Those users aren't choosing to be luddites, they don't even understand what a browser upgrade is. So they have a crappy web experience in ignorance, because Microsoft says so. And so sites like Forecast.io have three options: only ship limited static HTML web sites, do a bunch of contortions to support older versions of IE, or just accept that the site simply won't work well for anyone using something older than IE9. Fortunately that last option is now viable, and many sites are shipping fancy HTML5 experiences with some limited static fallback for the folks who still run WinXP and MSIE7 because they can't get anything better. At least the rest of the web isn't being held back anymore while grandpa catches up.
posted by Nelson at 7:40 AM on March 27, 2013


If it wasn't invented in the last 10 minutes, IT'S CRAP
posted by DU at 7:56 AM on March 27, 2013


telnet rainmaker.wunderground.com 3000
posted by Westringia F. at 8:04 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here in Kansas (state song: home on the range) I got a forecast for next week of "skies are not cloudy all day." Nice!
posted by girl scientist at 7:38 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The one thing I like about Forecast is how clean and pretty it is. I'm not going to give up Wunderground for it though; there's not enough being offered beyond the design prettiness.
posted by koucha at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2013


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