Spotlight on Health: Lightning Safety!

Central Florida has had a lot of lightning-heavy storms the past few days or so. The radar images look pretty serious.

Plenty of folks also managed to capture pictures of the lightning in action; this picture of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom last Friday is particularly striking:

Interesting social media posts aside, it’s important to be safe each day during our typical Florida afternoon thunderstorms this summer. Here are some lighting myths and facts from the National Weather Service.

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Calling all armchair meteorologists!

Are you a weather watcher? Do you notice how there always seems to be a 30% of chance of rain in Central Florida, yet it rarely rains? Do you want to know what the weather is really going to be like today? You are in luck! There are a slew of weather related apps available.

mPing appThe mPING app from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Oklahoma allows users to update a database of current weather conditions. Data collected from the app is used to create a radar map of accurate weather conditions. This type of data gathering and information delivery is referred to as “crowd sourcing.” The mPING app allows users to select the type of precipitation they are currently experiencing in their area from a simple drop down menu. According a report by NPR, almost 60,000 weather reports have been submitted via the mPING app, which is free for both the iOS and Android operating systems.


metwit app

weddar app

Other similar crowd sourcing weather apps include Metwit, which gives real time weather maps, and Weddar, which prompts users to select weather based on how they feel (e.g., hot, great, cold, or freezing). Color-coded clouds based on user reporting are shown on a map.


Note: These apps are only available for iPhone, and while downloadable on an iPad, they are not in iPad native format.


dark sky appddark sky Want more accurate weather reports? Dark Sky is the app for you! This unusual app can alert users when it will rain or snow up to an hour before it happens. The app features a simple interface that tells users what the conditions are like right now in their exact location (e.g., No rain, 63°), and what conditions will be like in the next hour (e.g., No rain). A swipe of the screen reveals the weather for the entire day. The app also graphically displays the likelihood of precipitation in the next hour with a yellow graph that visibly oscillates as chances of weather events increase and decrease. A fun feature of Dark Sky is the “Clear Skies Are Boring” announcement, which prompts users to view storms in other locations.  A simple radar shows current weather, with a slider that allows users to see past or present weather conditions in 10 minute increments. The Dark Sky app is currently only available for iOS devices, not Android. The app is $3.99 from the Apple App Store.

weatherbug appAnother fairly accurate weather app is WeatherBug. This robust app has live radar which users can put into motion to see how weather systems are moving, an excellent interface with temperature, dew point, humidity, pressure, winds, and alerts, forecasts, lightning maps, and camera and video views so users can actually see conditions in various locations. WeatherBug is a free app, available for both iOS and Android devices.


HSL Top Pick: Dark Sky – $3.99 (iOS only)

 1st place

HSL 2nd Pick: WeatherBug – Free (iOS and Android)

weatherbug app