App of the Week: NOAA Hi-Def Radar's Tracks Rain, Hurricanes and More

App: NOAA Hi-Def Radar Platform: iPhone Website: Apple Store Cost: $1.99

Anyone who knows me or reads my posts on this blog (thanks, mom!) knows I am a bit of a weather nerd and by that I mean I am a serious weather nerd. I've ranked and reviewed numerous weather apps and have an entire folder on my phone dedicated to them.

I've even gotten my girlfriend fascinated by weather apps and the phrase "check the doppler" is heard with regularity. But, when you live in Houston, that's probably a wise move, especially during hurricane season. That's why I was happy to find out there was a weather app I didn't have called NOAA Hi-Def Radar.

Strong Features

This is the number one weather app in the iTunes store and with good reason. It is packed with features the most important of which is the heavy duty radar that appears immediately when the app is opened. It's a full-featured radar like most other apps offer, but it is extremely accurate and provides a few extra details other apps don't.

For one, small arrows on the map indicate wind direction, which helps to figure out where storms are headed and when cold fronts have passed through a given area -- later in the year, obviously. If you really love weather, it can also give you some clue as to what kind of weather patters are in the area.

And no matter where you go, this app can find a radar or satellite to track weather in the area. Seriously, give it a shot. Even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is a clear satellite picture.

Options for tracking hurricanes on the map are also available making it useful during hurricane season as well. Other features include forecast discussions from the National Weather Service, bookmarks for specific locations and a pretty extensive list of view options.

One thing that I loved right off the bat was that the radar opened up in motion. Most maps open up as a still image and give users the options of animating it. This is the exact opposite, which, honestly, makes a lot of sense.


It would appear the only real limitations of this app have nothing to do with it specifically, but rather with the success and failure of the weather radar stations it uses. When any of those are down, it limits what it can display, but it gives you a list of them to help you track what works and what doesn't, which is helpful.

And this is not the best app if you want to track hurricanes. There are better apps for that, but having it here doesn't do anything to take away from what is available. Then, there's the $1.99 cost.

The Verdict

If you care at ALL about seeing your local radar, download this app. It is well worth the $1.99.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke