I am sure I am not alone in the fascination I have with the weather. While storms can be dangerous and do considerable damage I still must confess that I love watching them. I live in an area that gets frequent late-day thunderstorms in summer and an occasional tropical storm in late summer or fall. During these events I can be found sitting on my porch watching the action. Honestly, I probably should have been a storm chaser.
I constantly check the weather app on my Android phone and weather web sites on my PC. As for the computer, I recently came across an even simpler option than the web browser — Weather Watcher Live for Windows. The app pulls data from multiple sources to give all sorts of useful information and even warnings about severe conditions.
Weather Watcher Live for Windows is not free, but you get a 30 day trial to try it out and see what you think. Let’s get this part out of the way first — after your free trial expires you will have a choice of paying $19 pe year, purchasing a two or three year subscription for $38 or $57 respectively or a lifetime membership for $95. You do not need to enter a credit card to use the trial, so there is no need to worry about being automatically billed when the trial expires — that is a big plus in my book.
Once downloaded and installed then you can launch the app from your desktop, then upon first run you will need to choose between beginning a free trial, entering a key or retrieving an existing key.
Click the “free trial” option and you will be prompted to enter your email address to receive a trial key via email. Once you receive and enter your key then the app should automatically configure itself to the nearest weather station to your location. If you are not happy with the results then you can change them by heading into the Settings, which we will get to just a bit later in this post.
When the app first launches it displays a local radar map, current conditions and a forecast for the day and night. Conditions include current temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and humidity.
Across the top of the screen there are a number of tabs, including Refresh, Now, Hourly, Daily, Monthly, Local, Alerts, Maps and Settings. These are all pretty salf-explanatory, but if you are looking for a long-range forecast then check Daily, which gives a standard ten-day outlook and monthly, which honestly does not give much more, but forecasts that far in advance are unreliable anyway.
You also get a handy view from the Now screen that shows minimums and maximums for the day.
Advisories, which can be heat, wind, severe, winter and more, appear in two places — at the top of the app in a red bar just below the tabs, but also can pop up in your system tray.
The system tray notification pops up automatically whenever there is an alert. Clicking either this or the red bar in the app itself will pop up a box that will display details of the warning. For instance the one I just happened to receive on the morning I was writing this review — a happy coincidence, given that I would have had no other way to show these alerts.
As I mentioned previously, this is where you can change the weather station — do so under “Station” from the left column. Under General you can choose a number of basic settings like how the app starts up, display of the tray icon and several other basic settings.
The Conversion option allows users to choose between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Weather Warnings lets you choose what you wish to be alerted about and sounds allows you to set a system sound for various options.
Continuing to move down the left column, there is a Maps option, the ability to change wallpaper and skins and an Advanced set of options that can handle things like exporting data and using proxy servers.
There is no shortage of options that you can use as alternatives, many of them free. There are several that are built as Chrome web apps, but that still involves opening a browser and does not give automatic notifications, which is what we are looking for here.
As for desktop and system tray options, there are a couple of prominent alternatives. My favorite is the free Weather Channel app, which includes many of the same features as Weather Watcher Live. Other solid options including Weather Bug and Weather Underground, although that last one works as a gadget, which may be less desirable to many of you.
While Weather Watcher Live works extremely well, has numerous options and pulls data from several different sources in an attempt to collate the best information, price is a stumbling block.
However for comprehensiveness it probably can not be beat. On the other hand, there is always the old standby of opening a web browser and heading to one of the numerous weather sites on the web. If you want something on your desktop, and temperature and severe weather alerts displayed, but do not wnt to pay the $19 per year for this service, then the Weather Channel app is probably the best way to go.
In the end, it simply comes down to personal taste and your willingness to pay for a few added features and more diverse information.