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New cycling weather site

Old 04-02-07, 05:09 PM
  #1  
banerjek
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New cycling weather site

Sometime back, I set up a weather site for myself that allows me to view the short and mid range temperature, wind direction and speed, and precipitation outlook along with current radar. The idea is to know what to expect on upcoming rides.

I was kind of burned out this afternoon, so I whipped up something that most people who live in the US should be able to use (sorry to everyone else -- that's just the data I could find fast and free). If you type in your zip code or city and state, it locates the nearest radar along with the 5 day forecast and displays an hour by hour forecast for temperature, precipitation, and wind for the next 48 hrs.

My highly rigorous testing procedure which consisted of typing in about a half doze zip codes and area names was reasonably successful. However, there were completeness and accuracy issues in the data I downloaded, so if the page screws up, try entering a city and state combo instead of a zip.

Have some patience with the site -- it's hosted on a $6/mo service and this is literally something I hacked together in a few hours. However, if people like it, I'll improve it.

The site is http://cyclingweather.alptown.com/
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Old 04-02-07, 05:14 PM
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awesome. thx man!
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Old 04-02-07, 06:39 PM
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Hey great site, but a bad outlook for me... it goes snow, rain/snow likely, chance snow, Rain/Snow, Rain/Snow, Rain/Snow, Mostly cloudy (yeah!!), Chance Snow/Rain, Chance Snow/Rain... yup I love Maine.
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Old 04-02-07, 07:04 PM
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Nice. I like it.

One question. What do the "hooks" on the wind chart represent?
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Old 04-02-07, 07:15 PM
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I like it. The only extra that I'd want would be a satellite picture showing cloud cover and precipitation.
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Old 04-02-07, 07:20 PM
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Great site, thanks.
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Old 04-02-07, 09:02 PM
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Awesome...I'm kind of a weather geek so these sites really turn my crank...my bicycle crank, that is!
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Old 04-02-07, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by kls1891
Nice. I like it.

One question. What do the "hooks" on the wind chart represent?
They just help make it clear which direction the wind direction lines are pointing. Otherwise, they can be ambiguous if they overlap with each other or the wind speed lines.

As far as satellite and that other stuff goes, I'll just have to play around a bit and see if I can find an easy way to do it fast.
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Old 04-02-07, 10:05 PM
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Hey, that's pretty neat! Right now I use weather underground, but I like the graphs on your page.
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Old 04-02-07, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by cris2fur
awesome. thx man!
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Old 04-02-07, 10:08 PM
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where did you get the temperature graph from? it's awesome!
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Old 04-02-07, 10:40 PM
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When I heard on the news that there was no rain expected for this week (Spring break) I smiled.

Seeing it on a graph PLUS 2-8 mph wind gusts and gradually changing temperatures from 54 to 76 degrees made me cheer!
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Old 04-02-07, 11:01 PM
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Very very cool website my friend! I normally use the weather channel, but the graphs on this site are just plain awesome!
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Old 04-03-07, 05:35 AM
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Awesome site. Thanks for posting it for all to use.
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Old 04-03-07, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalMasher
where did you get the temperature graph from? it's awesome!
Your government dollars at work -- everything you see is produced by the National Weather Service. All I did was combine info from a couple of different public sources.

A tech support call got me started. Some guy wanted to create a Web app that recommended businesses based on zip code searches. The census bureau provides a list of cities and GPS coordinates. The post office provides a list of cities and zip codes. After downloading a list of radar stations from NWS, I associated GPS coordinates with zip codes and calculated the closest radar stations (OK, I cheated -- I used Pythagorean Theorem rather than calculating distance on a sphere, but that's good enough for this application)

There's a bit more going on in the back, but the NWS provides some really cool info and they make it easy to work with. For example, the radar image actually consists of 7 layered images that I can turn on and off at will. I chose not to display topographic info because I think it makes the display harder to read and it slows loading.
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Old 04-03-07, 06:32 AM
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Here's my suggestion to make it even more user firendly...wind, wind, wind.

How about including wind speed direction in the little forecast summaries right at the top for each day?
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Old 04-03-07, 07:08 AM
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nice!
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Old 04-03-07, 07:24 AM
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Sweet. I like Bluehost as a provider, for the money you get a pretty good deal. Their recent upgrades to the backbone have really helped out speed.

Source code?
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Old 04-03-07, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by teclis5
Sweet. I like Bluehost as a provider, for the money you get a pretty good deal. Their recent upgrades to the backbone have really helped out speed.

Source code?
It's not that I take any "ownership" of it, but rather that the code is such garbage that I don't want to publicly embarrass myself -- it's literally something that was slapped together in a few hours. I downloaded the data from an ordinary web browser, processed it a bit with some temporary python scripts (each with the highly original name of "junk.py" which was pitched after running it), uploaded into mysql, and the rest is php.

It's truly script kiddie quality, so the ideas are more interesting than the actual code. One of the headaches was that the census bureau did not supply zip codes in their data, and the names in the census data, postal data, and radar stations sometimes didn't correspond. This required some normalization. Then there were some missing data issues. If you type in something that my database doesn't recognize, it actually sends the data to NWS and attempts to scrape the screen so that it can learn about it, which radar is closest and add it to the db.

Let me work on it a bit more. The current design is not stable enough, and I'll be happy to put something out once the code makes more sense and I can document it. In the meantime, you can find some useful info about NWS SOAP service at http://www.weather.gov/xml/ and a bit of info about downloading radar images at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/re...e_download.htm
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Old 04-03-07, 10:38 AM
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Pretty sweet thing you got here. My suggestion would be to make the graphs a little bigger, right now they're kind of small and hard to read.
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Old 04-03-07, 11:25 AM
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Bravo, and thanks! This is so much faster (and more informative) than local weather or weather.com. Nice job.
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Old 04-03-07, 11:36 AM
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great
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Old 04-03-07, 11:44 AM
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What about animating the map? I like to see whether a system is moving in or out of my area.
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Old 04-03-07, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by No_Minkah
What about animating the map? I like to see whether a system is moving in or out of my area.
It will be awhile before I will be able to address this in a competent manner. In the meantime, I've added a link that takes you directly to looping radars. It does not know your context, but it will allow you to select the resolution and area you want quickly.

Then there is always the old fashioned way -- look at the radar at least twice over a period of time
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Old 04-03-07, 02:06 PM
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Wonderful. Just saw a tornado warning heading towards my after-work ride. Thanks!
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