There are thousands of websites that provide forecasts, current weather observations, analysis products, and even weather-related health outcomes. Some sites are highly technical and can be understood only by expert meteorologists. Other sites are designed with the non-experts in mind with easy to understand explanations and displays. Some sites have both, where the most sought after information (like a forecast for example) is on the home page, but there are links that take you to deeper and deeper into the tools used by meteorologists.
The following web links are a few of my favourites – that cover a wide spectrum of interests.
For local weather forecasts and a wide-range of weather related information, see Environment Canada. There are layers upon layers of general and technical stuff (like pressure maps) available from one site (go to the links on the left hand side of the home page and explore).
For those with specific questions about the weather (climate, marine, aviation, etc.) or about the products used by meteorologists (satellite images, astronomical information, etc.) a good set of FAQ’s are available the Environment Canada weather office website.
Health and Weather
Those who suffer from migraine headaches or arthritis for example, know that weather can be a triggers for these conditions. The relationship between weather and health is a subject of on-going research, and there are now websites that provide health forecasts – giving those that suffer from these conditions an alert that their health problems may be aggravated soon.
This is not an endorsement of the company that provides these alerts, but you might find the following useful (they offer a 3 month trial).
For a host of other “health” conditions such as those for attentiveness, mood, reflex times, flu and even bad hair you can take a look at:
Their forecast maps for these health related indicators focus on the U.S., although parts of Southern Canada are included.
Health and Air Pollution (including Wildfire Smoke)
For those who suffer from cardio-respiratory disease, research shows a relationship between certain air pollutants and these health outcomes. For British Columbia, the BC Ministry of Environment monitors air quality at several locations across the province, and displays a current and forecast Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). The AQHI indicates the health risk associated with the levels of different air pollutants, and provides advice on how minimize your health risk associated with air quality.
In addition, during wildfire season, smoke forecasts are available from this website. These are produced by combining satellite detects of current wildfires with weather forecasts to create forecast maps smoke impacted areas. Not only is smoke a nuisance, but can affect transportation (visibility) and aggravate respiratory conditions.
There is a huge array of satellite data available from the web. Not only are there “visible” images (i.e. what you would see with your eye from space), but also different analysis products such as: Infra-Red (IR) maps (showing temperature), maps of aerosols and various other gases (ozone and water vapour for example), locations of wildfires, and geophysical information such as land cover. One of my favourite sites is:
The animations, especially of the images that cover the globe, are quite spectacular.
Weather Radar (or Doppler Radar)
This is a type of radar that uses the Doppler effect to locate precipitation, and determine its motion and different forms (rain, snow, hail, etc.). The radars are strategically located so they can provide images in areas where this type of information would be most useful (populated areas and/or those near airports for example). The Environment Canada site has a map of weather radars across Canada, and you can click on the radar for the area you are most interested in.
For South Vancouver Island, the website I like to use combines the radar images from both Canada and the U.S. to produce a composite that covers Southern British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
Meteograms of Meteorological Data
A meteogram is a plot of a time-series of meteorological parameters (such as wind speed as precipitation) at a specific location. They are a graphical way to show how these parameters change in time at a particular point (whether in the past or a forecast future). A really interesting website that provides meteograms is:
Just specify the location of interest (city) and a map and detailed meteogram for that location will appear.
Weather Forecast Computer Model Output
In order to help inform forecasts, there are highly sophisticated computer models that simulate the physical processes of the atmosphere. Given the current state of the atmosphere as a starting point, they project what the future state will be (at least according to the model). Detailed model output in the form of maps and meteograms is available from a number of websites, but for SW British Columbia, my two frequently used links are from the University of Washington
and the University of British Columbia
These are just a few that I use, but I am sure there are many others that others find helpful. Please post them by leaving a comment (and describe why they are helpful), and I will add them to the list.