App of the Week: WunderMap Makes Weather Simple

App: WunderMap Platforms: iPhone, Android, iPad, Kindle Fire Web site: http://www.wunderground.com/download/index.asp Cost: Free

We southerners don't often have to deal in degrees when it comes to the weather. A high temperature of 90 is just as uncomfortable as 92. But, when the weather is near freezing and there is moisture in the atmosphere, suddenly degrees matter a lot.

During Houston's recent cold snaps, it became evident to me why knowing if it is 33 or 31 outside is significant, particularly when there is precipitation falling or about to fall. And while there are plenty of apps that give you pretty accurate radar readings and fairly close monitoring of your hyper-local weather, nothing lays it out as simply as WunderMap.

What sets WunderMap apart from other weather apps -- and I love me some weather apps -- is the map part. Most weather apps have some sort of built in radar and some are extremely accurate. Most come with layer options to show everything from cloud cover to hurricane tracking. But, WunderMap goes further.

In addition to radar, satellite, hurricanes and similar map layers to other apps, it shows temperatures from weather stations across the area, severe weather alerts and frontal boundaries. All three can make a significant difference in determining your personal weather.

For myself, knowing that the weather station a few blocks from my house is reading a certain temperature was great, but being able to see a weather station temperature and wind direction five miles north can be invaluable when fronts are moving through or when weather is changing. Seeing a frontal boundary on the map along with temperatures and wind directions in front and behind it helps to make weather visual.

It also lets you know what is coming. Maybe leaving five minutes early will keep you from getting rained on this morning, for example.

It does provide a little forecast and current weather information, but the key here is the map. Each weather station, when tapped, provides detail for that specific location. Tap a color-shaded warning area and that will give you detail about a severe storm warning or ice on the roads.

If there was any complaint I had, it is that it can be somewhat difficult to click on the map and get what you want. Weather stations must be zoomed in a lot. Shaded warning areas often pop up warnings when all you want to do is zoom. The forecast drop down box doesn't go back up terribly easily.

Still, it is a wonderful little weather app that provides tremendously helpful information in a very simple interface.

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