With all the rain we've had over the last few days, no doubt many of you have been keeping an eye on radar offered on dozens of Web sites and smartphone apps. But, have you ever looked at the time stamp on those radar images? You should, because not all radars are equal.
In looking through the radar of all the local television stations, the Houston Chronicle, the National Weather Service, Weather.com (probably the most popular) and Weather Underground, I found that many of them showed images that were well behind current time. In the event of a dangerous thunderstorm, this kind of lag is downright worrisome.
Here they are with screen capture images from best to worst.
Note: Actual time was taken from a computer clock synced with an online server and should be considered highly accurate, though I wouldn't consider this test exactly scientific either.
Chron.com Actual Time: 3:49 p.m. Date Stamp: 3:49 p.m. Variance: 0 minutes
Chron.com ranks tops on our list with literally no difference between our time and the time date stamped on the radar.
Weather Underground Actual Time: 3:51 p.m. Date Stamp: 3:48 p.m. Variance: - 3 minutes
Ever reliable Weather Underground was next with a moderate three-minute lag time.
KPRC Actual Time: 3:46 p.m. Date Stamp: 3:42 p.m. Variance: - 4 minutes
Channel 2 was up next with a four-minute delay. Still not bad.
KRIV Actual Time: 3:48 p.m. Date Stamp: 3:42 p.m. Variance: - 6 minutes
National Weather Service Actual Time: 3:49 p.m. Date Stamp: 3:43 p.m. Variance: - 6 minutes
Both Fox 26 and, surprisingly, the National Weather Service clocked in six minutes slow, which, in a severe thunderstorm, is starting to get pretty dicey.
KTRK Actual Time: 3:48 p.m. Date Stamp: 3:40 p.m. Variance: - 8 minutes
Channel 13 had an eight-minute delay on their radar. In Texas summers, some storms would be over before this radar accurately reported it.
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Weather.com Actual Time: 3:50 p.m. Date Stamp: 3:40 p.m. Variance: - 10 minutes
The Weather Channel, which does have one of the better interactive radars online, is a full ten minutes behind.
KHOU Actual Time: 3:47 p.m., 4:56 p.m. Date Stamp: 2:44 p.m., 4:32 p.m. Variance: - 63 minutes, - 24 minutes
The worst is Channel 11. Just to be sure there wasn't some glitch, I checked two separate radars on their site at different times. The first was over an hour behind while the second was only 24 minutes, but even that amount of time is far too much lag with our fast-changing weather.