The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

iPhone BBQ Buddy - Weather Bug Elite

It is amazing how much information our smart phones allow us to bring with us, wherever we go. WeatherBug Elite is a 99 cent iPhone app that turns your iPhone into a portable weather information station. While this can be really handy for cooking related tasks, the weather impacts just about every aspect of our lives. I wanted to do a log of my pork roast cook recording time, temperature and weather conditions. The air temps were in single digits and I knew this would be an important cook to log for future reference. Weather Bug Elite makes it easy to see current and future conditions.

There are other weather apps for the iPhone, so why did I choose Weather Bug Elite. The first reason was I had been using their app on my Mac for years. It had a clean simple interface and presented all of the information I needed in an easy to use fashion. I was thrilled to see it when it was one of the first weather apps for the iPhone. The iPhone app is just as easy to use and takes advantage of the iPhone UI to make it quick to get to your information. There is a free version with small banner ads and a slightly stripped down feature set. I opted for the 99 cent version which added animation to the weather maps, no adds and several additional features. At the time when Weather Bug Elite added its animated weather maps, I think it was the only app to have this feature. Plus seriously 99 cents is a drop in the bucket. I look at it as the least I can do to encourage developers to make great apps for the iPhone. And this is a great app, not perfect, but close to it.

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Your first step is to either let the iPhone get your current location or as we are doing above, you type in a city. Suggestions pop up & you select your city. Then you are presented with a list of weather stations large & small with their distance from the location you searched from.

One of the things I have liked about Weather Bug is you can get your weather from a wide variety of weather stations. Other weather apps I’ve used on computers and the iPhone generally limit you to the major weather stations. Where I live, the nearest National Weather Service weather station is 15 miles away. Doesn’t sound like much but being farther inland and at a higher elevation often makes a big difference. Boston at 25 miles away and on the coast is even further removed from the weather I see here. The temps in Boston can be 10 degrees (5.5 C) warmer in the winter and 10 degrees (5.5 C) cooler in the summer, than what I see here. Weather Bug offers up a wide variety of weather stations including the National Weather Service locations but also including many other types. In my case this means I can select a middle school that has a wether station as part of it’s science department. This weather station is only a mile away and gives me something much closer to the weather in my back yard. You can add multiple locations so you can see the weather where you live and work.

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The left image shows the current conditions screen which updates the wind direction & velocity real time. Tapping on the arrow to the right of the wind direction flips the screen to list current condition & the conditions so far this date (middle), Clicking on the forecast portion of the screen brings up the detailed forecast for the next 48 hours & summaries for the next 5 days (right)

In terms of using Weather Bug, your first step is to add one or locations you wish to track. Then you are able to get the conditions from these weather stations. When Weather Bug launches you are taken to the last location you used and the last screen. The screen I use most often is the current condition for your locations. This is the screen that is great for my cooking logs. I record temperature readings for the food, the smoker grate and record the weather conditions every 30 minutes. This app lets you get the exact reading at the weather station of your choice at the time of your choice. You actually can see the wind direction and intensity change real time on this screen.

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Clicking on Active Alerts (left) reveal a list of the current National Weather Service Alerts for your area (middle), Clicking on the alert brings up the details of the alert (right)

If there is an active weather alert you will see a badge on the home screen of the iPhone. Clicking on the Active Alert Icon on the Current Conditions page brings up a list of the alerts and you can view details about the alerts. This can be very handy in the summer if heavy weather is heading your way.

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The forecast tab lets you choose between the 7 Day Forecast (left) & the Hourly Forecast (right)

When you click on the tab at the bottom of the screen for forecasts you are presented with a choice of the 7 day and Hourly Forecast screen. Here is found the one shortcoming for me in this app. I really wish the hourly forecast would list the predicted wind speeds. This can be a big factor in planning when to cook. Since this is the type of thing I would need ahead of time, I can look it up on the AccuWeather web site, but it would be nice to have it in Weather Bug Elite.

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The Maps tab allows you to overlay all types of weather info, such as wind speeds, over your local map (left) Clicking on one of the pins representing your city (middle) brings up a thumbnail popup showing current weather (snow) and the temperature. You can also use it to adjust the size of map segment you are viewing (right). We have switched the weather radar map from 50 to 100 mile (80-160 km) radius. The control down on the lower left allows you to animate the map.

The next tab at the bottom of the main screen, brings up animated maps which you can customize to show various types of information such as radar, visible or IR satellite, humidity, wind speeds, humidity and barometric pressure. The maps can be adjusted to control the opacity of the overlaid information so you can see more or less of the map beneath. It can be very helpful to pull up the radar in the summer to see how long you have before heavy weather is due to hit you. What is even better is you can be standing outside at the grill while doing this. No need to run inside and check on your computer.

The camera tab allows you to scroll through the available live weather cams in your area.

I do not make use of the video tab. In it you’ll find videos of the weather forecast, but it is not regional enough for my use. The last tab can be handy it is the weather web cameras in your area. There are often several cameras available for you area and you can scroll to view them all. They are sorted by distance from your locale.

In conclusion Weather Bug Elite is a great iPhone app for weather. It is flexible in that it allows you to pick from a wide variety of weather stations from large and “official” to smaller and amateur. This allows you to get weather condition very close to your specific location. The interface is fluid and easy to use and instantly familiar to any iPhone user. Having animated customizable weather maps a couple clicks away on your phone is a very powerful feature. I am surprised I didn’t originally think of this app when I was writing some of my other blogs about cooking related iPhone apps. I think it was because I use all the time to help plan most of the things I do. Definitely try out Weather Bug Elite if you want more information than you get with the built in iPhone Weather App. Oh and splurge for the 99 cent version. It is worth it, believe me. and you’ll be supporting developers doing creative things on the iPhone.


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