As the Miami Marlins learned yesterday, weather apps should be used carefully when planning short-term work that may be impacted by current weather. The Marlins play in a stadium with a retractable roof which is supposed to prevent rain delays. However, to do that it has to be closed. Yesterday, they started the game with the roof open and were surprised when it started raining during the game. The roof operator said that he had used a weather app to determine that rain in the area would move away from them and so did not close the roof (which takes 13 minutes) until after it had already started raining. Here’s the story from ESPN. (You might wonder why they don’t hire a meteorologist to give them site-specific forecasts, but that’s another story.) The Vane had an interesting blog posting on the same subject today with some explanation for why the apps don’t always work well.
At the same time, there is a proliferation of questionable weather information available on social media, particularly with regard to severe weather which may be occurring. The Vane has a great article describing some of the problems that have been seen with this explosion of information online and why you should be careful in where you get weather and climate data. Always use a trusted source of information such as the National Weather Service, one of the commercial forecast firms, or local news meteorologists.
Weather apps can be a great source of timely information when you are out in the field, particularly in disseminating current severe weather warnings, but many apps don’t update quickly and don’t provide pinpoint forecasts, so always be aware of local conditions and use them carefully. If you have an app you really love, feel free to post a comment to let others know about it.