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Supreme Heat

Dan Stillman @ 11:40 PM

Hard to say which will be hotter today -- Washington's air temperature or its political climate. Temps should top out in the low 90s today, maybe mid-90s in some spots, with a bit less humidity than yesterday. We're talking dewpoints in the mid-to-upper 60s as opposed to yesterday's low-to-mid 70s. With the slight drying out of the atmosphere, I expect any shower or thunderstorm development to be very isolated. I'd say the chances of any particular location seeing a pop-up storm are less than 10 percent.

It looks like the humidity will creep back up a notch tomorrow and Friday with high temps remaining in the low-to-mid 90s. A more noticeable drop in humidity may be in the cards for the weekend.

Tracking Emily

As of last night, Hurricane Emily (seen in the adjacent satellite image from NASA) was slowly approaching the coast of northeastern Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, making it a Category 3 storm. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center were holding out the possibility that Emily could strengthen into a Category 4 storm before making landfall early today. Check the NHC Web site for the latest advisory.


While we might get a break today, the seemingly daily threat of thunderstorms has had me checking my cell phone radar fairly often as of late. The mobile weather application from Weathernews is next up in our continuing series of weather-for-your-cell-phone reviews:

Like the Accuweather application that I sized up in my last review, Weathernews has lots of tasty side items but comes up short in the main course. For starters, the "My Weather" feature displays the usual data for whatever city you choose -- current temperature, sky condition or precipitation type, humidity, seven-day forecast, wind, barometer, visibility, sunrise and sunset times, and severe weather advisories, watches and warnings. In the background is the skyline of the city selected -- a nice touch if a bit gimmicky. Overall the data here is pretty comprehensive, but the lack of detailed forecast information, beyond high and low temperatue predictions, is a major hole.

Also making for a nice appetizer is the program's most innovative feature -- its ability to send text message alerts for weather conditions meeting specified thresholds, such as temperatures over 90 degrees. The "Wake Up With Weather Alarm Clock" also appears to be a cool thing. I say "appears" because this feature is only available on certain BREW-enabled phones, and mine was not one of them. According to the Weathernews Web site, however, the alarm clock communicates the day's weather by playing ringtones such as "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and "You Are My Sunshine" while displaying the current weather conditions and forecast.

Now for the flavorless entree -- the radar. This was the most disappointing aspect by far. It consists of a single image with no time stamp or ability to animate. Another drawback is that you can't see the state or county lines behind radar echoes. Also of note is the absence of satellite images.

Dessert -- a solid selection of international forecast cities, a vacation planner that shows the average temperature and hours of sunshine per day for various cities, and a travel weather section that lists airport delays and phone numbers to major airlines -- makes up only a little for the lackluster main course. There's also a weather dictionary, which in theory is a neat idea, but in practice contains a paltry 21 entries, one of which is "National Weather Service." On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best), here's how the mobile weather application from Weathernews rates:

Radar: 2
Satellite: 0
Forecast information: 3
Ease of Use: 3
Speed: 3
Overall average: 2.2

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