Take this Weather and Climate Webpage with You

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Alberta and Agriculture and Forestry (AF) has just launched its weather and climate mobile-friendly webpage. Ralph Wright, head of agro-meteorology with AF, explains the features of this weather app and how it can help Alberta producers.

“What this app is doing is taking all the different sources of weather information we have out there and putting it in one place – that is – on your mobile device,” says Wright. “Typically, most weather apps are just getting forecasts. The thing that always struck us about the forecasts is that it doesn’t show what happened yesterday. That is a very important question for farmers. For example, when you talk about winds and when to spray, the forecasts aren’t that accurate as to when the winds might diminish in the evening or maybe when they start picking up in the afternoon, or for that matter, what range of directions have they been blowing in.”

This app lets producers look at all of the hourly data for winds for the past few days, says Wright. “If we’re in a stable weather pattern – today is much like yesterday – you can start getting some pretty good ideas when today’s winds may pick up or subside. You can look back over the last couple of days, and also see what the gusts were like. So, if you’re thinking of spraying right now, you can take a look at what the winds are at several weather stations in your area. If they are all similar, there a good chance your area will be the same.”

The app also features Environment Canada’s radar superimposed over Google maps. “You can zoom right in on your quarter section,” adds Wright. “You can see the storms coming in real time, as the radar is updated every 10 minutes. Our handy little play back slider lets you move it forward and backward to get a good feel for how fast it’s moving, where it’s going and how long it may last. The radar also lets you see out a few hundred kilometres to see if there is anything coming beyond the horizon.”

The app keeps records of temperatures at different times of the day. “We all know what tomorrow’s temperatures are forecast to be, but what was the temperature last night,” says Wright. “Perhaps you sprayed a couple days ago, and you don’t know how low the temperature dropped. Did you get frost? Maybe the temps dipped down to 3 or 4 degrees and the plants “shut down” temporarily. It could mean a recent herbicide application may not have been as effective as it should have been. We now have those records for producers to see.”

The app features precipitation amounts recorded at weather stations around the province. “This is particularly important for producers who have insured on the weather stations for lack of moisture,” explains Wright. “People are insuring on precipitation amounts for AFSC’s Lack of Moisture insurance programs, and they can go take a look at any time to see how much rain has fallen. This is particularly important near AFSC’s cut off times, giving the insured some insight into whether or not a payment may be triggered.”

Insects – alfalfa weevil, bertha armyworm, wheat midge – are part of this app. “It will give you the heads up for scouting, some awareness of how the insects are developing, and then help you to make decisions whether or not you need to spray,” adds Wright.

Fusarium head blight is another category on the app. Says Wright, “This webpage will tell you whether conditions right for infection. If they are, it’s time to be extra vigilant.”

Most of the weather station data being displayed goes back up to two months, including hourly data. “However,” adds Wright, “We also have an almanac which allows you to go and explore climate data back to 1961. What we have available now is growing season precipitation for the last 58 years. Here, we can see that Fort Vermilion has been in a dry spell since the drought of 2002. But looking back further you can a long series of dry years in the 1960s and early 1970s. You can also look at corn heat units and frost free days. We will continue to add more features, so stay connected.”

The mobile webpage also features more detailed Environment Canada forecasts, weather alerts, and the fire risk index that goes back seven days.

Find this mobile friendly webpage at www.weatherdata.ca/m to add to your smart phone’s home screen. For more information about the webpage, contact Ralph Wright at 780-446-6831.

Source: Alberta and Agriculture and Forestry