Official Storm Trackers? Yes!
We recently made a quick run back to the factory after visiting our newest sale team member in Texas. A quick stop in Knoxville to vist old friends and then onto the Baltimore Annapolis area. We spent about ten days back at Deep Forest, our house, and at the factory. We headed west again stopping at the birthplace of our coach to get some custom features added. Our plan to head north was quickly changed at the last moment.
What happened? Wendy noticed that every where we were planning to go was still freezing thus violating our determination to chase 70 degrees.
So literally as we were driving on I-90 through Chicago area, we decided to turn south. We planned to head due south, but reports of wild weather caused us to stop in Des Moines heading west instead of south. As it turned out the Tornado’s rolled through just south of us.
Wendy, determined to have better information, saw reports on the weather channel from an elite group of loosely banded Storm Chasers that were reporting live from their remote sites. Unlike the formal university trackers, these diehards track from their cars and SUVs moving quickly and generally facter that the big guys. The Weather Channel noted their spryness and so Wendy looked them up.
The Spotter Network website did the trick in convincing us that these guys were way ahead of everyone, so we joined them and are now in the process of going through their educational and certification process to be official Spotter Network members. Our goal will be to report, not Tornado’s or Hurricane’s, but where it is sunny and 70. It is certainly worth a look to see what they are offering. http://www.spotternetwork.org/
While in the process, we decided to head southwest to further skirt the storms and found ourselves with dead aim at Topeka Kansas. This happens to be where our patent and trademark attorney lives, so we decided to spend a few days there.
While at dinner with Kathleen and Harold, Harold scared the hell out of us talking about the big weather event headed our way. We had already scoped out the Tornado shelter at our campground and Harold caused us to go back to the coach after dinner and brace for what was coming. Sure enough, we turned on the Weather Channel ad saw red Tornado boxes headed our way. A site that reminded us when we were in Texas a couple of miles from where a Tornado touched down.
So, we rechecked the weather radio, made sure it was set to our counties, got all of our clothes layed out, cell phones and a plan to get Isabel kitty into her carrier and bolt to the shelter if need be. Then we turned to the Spotter Network for their opinion. Not even close to us they said. They were headed north and south away from us. We went to bed assured because we had our SAME weather radio enabled and the confidence of our storm chasers.
Next morning, we heard about all the devastation and some of our friends at Spotter Network were on TV. I went to the forum to chat and started to notice some of the chatter about some of their equipment. Later while shopping at a grocery store in Topeka, Wendy picked up a portable weather radio and asked if we should get a new one that we could carry with us to a shelter if we needed to. It was expensive and I knew I could get the same thing on eBay for about half, so we passed.
Wendy’s idea intrigued me as did some of the chatter on the Spotter Network chat forum.
I first went to the form and noticed all this activity about the “new version of SP” and how its new GPS feature had made them more accurate and nimble. No matter where I searched, no one used the full name of this product and I only deduced that it might be software.
My next stop on the Internet was eBay to look up and order another weather radio. So I typed “Weather Alert” and accidentally hit the return key before adding the word radio. Up comes a software box with what looked like a radar image. The title was StormPredator weather alert software. IT took me a moment to connect the dots that I had found the SP software that the network was chatting about. Reading further, I saw that it was the newly released version with GPS. So I went to their website for more information. I figured, how good could it be for $39.95…half the price of a complicated weather radio.
Well, I was blown away when I saw what this software did and I downloaded a 30 day trial immediately. After 30 minutes of playing with the download, I had a few questions for the developer and he responded within minutes. Within the hour I had my first copy of the software.
Before I start, I would recommend this software for anyone remotely interested in the weather. It is simple easy to use and full of real-time information….yes real-time not 15 or 30 minute delays like the weather channel or weather.com.
OK, in the simplest sense, this software talks to all the national weather, radar and Nexrad weather sites via the internet. You see real-time radar scans with the ability to choose what you are looking at with a few simple clicks. The screen is clear and detailed.
There is an alert system that lets you draw a ring around the area in the country you are located. Within this ring, you can set the alert threshold to cause you computer to beep you…or in our case a sound file that sounds just like a Tornado Warning Siren that is so loud it send Isabel scurrying. When an approaching storm enters your area, it warns you. Away from you computer? No worries, the software will page your cell phone. If you have a Blackberry or some other Smart phone it will send an image and the type of weather to expect in text form.
Too Many features to describe here. Take a look at Storm Predator at http://www.stormpredator.com Oh special discounts apply if you buy it on eBay!
Well, we are on the road headed north again. Our plan is to head to BC Canada for dealer visits in late May and early June. We think we will be going through South Dakota to Coeur d’Alene, but who knows. That is why they call us Chill Travelers!
Here are a couple of other larger views of the software.