Weather Knowledge Tools For Ride Preparation

Now that we are into fall and winter is right around the corner, hearty cold weather cyclist that don't put away the bike until spring will be watching the weather forecasts more closely.  Checking the weather conditions and forecast before you ride will provide the information needed to choose the appropriate riding apparel.  Not knowing can cause you to be unprepared for the elements and become overheated or chilled making that ride unpleasant.

There are many sources of current weather condition and forecast information available, both on the web and in the palm of your hand with your smartphone.  Take advantage of  this easy access of weather information before you ride to prepare yourself.  The weather websites, smartphone apps and streaming audio featured below are functional year round but will become more instrumental as fall shifts into winter.


Kristin Clark is a mountain biking meteorologist who writes the MORC Weather Blog on the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists website.  With her Cyclecast, she keeps cyclist informed of the forecast for the week.  She also mixes in cycling stories and weather related information.  For more information about this blog see my post Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists Introduce MORC Weather Blog.

Cycling Weather collects, compiles and displays weather information from National Weather Service sites.  This data will help cyclists determine if weather conditions are favorable for riding.  Simply enter a ZIP Code or a city/state and hit Submit Query.  The results page will contain a radar map for the area and forecast data graphs for the next 48 hours.  Forecast data includes:  Temperature, Dewpoint, Windchill, Wind, Gusts, Relative Humidity, Precipitation Potential, Sky Cover and Rain.

ShouldIBike.com takes key forecast information to make a best guess decision of whether it will be a good day to ride and remain comfortable doing it.  Enter a city/state or ZIP Code and hit Go.  The results page will display Current Conditions, Hi/Lo Temperatures, Predicted Rain and Storm Probability.  A weather graphic will also detail weather conditions for today and the next 4 days with a symbol depicting whether to ride or not for each day.  If you would like to get this information on your phone, send and email or SMS message to bike@shouldibike.com and in the body of the message put your city/state or ZIP Code and a forecast of the current conditions will be received in a couple of minutes.

Find Local Weather will give you the current weather, 5 day forecast, by the hour forecast, warnings & advisories information and local radar for any area by entering city/state or ZIP Code and hitting go.  The hourly forecast is helpful for determining changes in temperature or precipitation probability for the time frame that you will be riding.

WeatherSpark provides weather information with beautiful graphs and maps for whatever city/state or ZIP Code you enter in the search.  You can view the weather information in Forecast or Dashboard mode which both provide multitudes of easy to read data and graphs.  Forecast mode will provide information from four weather sources, the National Weather Service, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, World Weather Online and Weather Central.  This site will give you a clear picture of when the best time to ride is.

The Weather Channel website will give you detailed weather information for any U.S. city/state or ZIP Code you enter in the search box.  Access to forecasts includes current, today, hourly, 5 day and 10 day weather information.  You will be able to view past and future radar for your specified area and select different map layers to be displayed.  Take the Weather Channel forecasts and conditions with you via their free app for both Android and iPhone smartphone users.

Smarthphone Apps

WeatherBug is a free app that is available for both Android and iPhone users.  There is also a WeatherBug desktop version for your computer.  This app gives you access to the world's largest network of real-time weather sensors to provide you with accurate forecasts, current conditions, radar maps and weather alerts.  Enter the neighborhood level weather stations for the areas you would like updates for and save them to My Locations for quick access to multiple areas you frequently ride.  I love this app and use it all the time.  There is a paid, ad free version of this app called WeatherBug Elite. 

Fox9 Weather is Minnesota's first all weather app and is free for both Android and iPhone users.  It has a nice, easy to use display that contains the current radar that can be animated, current conditions, hourly & 10 day forecasts and weather alerts for your area.  Save multiple locations or use your current one to access weather information for wherever your are at.  Select any day in the 10 day forecast for detailed information for that day.

When you know the forecast and weather conditions but would just like to check the current Doppler radar, use the Rainy Days app for Android.  Launch this free simple radar app to see where a storm is tracking or how fast it is moving out of the area you would like to ride.  Doppler radar images are animated and use Google Maps which can be viewed in either satellite or map mode.  Radar images can be zoomed in or out as desired to view a whole region or specific neighborhood area close up

Streaming Audio

http://icons-ak.wxug.com/i/wu/wuLogoUrl.pngNOAA Weather Radio can be streamed on your computer or smartphone for current conditions and forecasts in your area.  Check the Wunder Radio Directory to find a stream for an area near you.  Currently Minnesota has eight online streaming feeds.  To stream the feed to your smartphone I recommend downloading and launching the TuneIn Radio app.  Use "search" in TuneIn Radio to enter the Call Sign for the station selected from the Wunder Radio Directory and tap on the result to start playing the feed.  Add the stations you use most to your favorites for easy access later on.

Knowing the weather can help you prepare for your next ride by dressing properly and riding at the best times when conditions are most favorable.  The sources listed above make knowing easy, convenient and keep you apprised of weather conditions for your specific area.  Take advantage of this information to make your off-season rides in Minnesota good ones.

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