RadarScope: The best iOS radar app for weather geeks

RadarScope is also the only iOS app backed by a complementary commercial data feed, and the only iOS app to display super resolution data. Other iPhone apps use the public NOAA servers, which aren't always the most reliable or timely.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor
RadarScope: The best iOS radar app for weather geeks

I check the weather on my iPhone several times per day and suspect that you might too. It's a necessity for anyone who goes outside to know if precipitation is coming in order to dress appropriately and avoid getting drenched.

For forecasts I still enjoy the clean UI of My-Cast ($3.99, App Store) but for radar, there's a new sheriff in town. 

Enter Base Velocity's RadarScope ($9.99, App Store), the radar app of choice for any self-respecting weather geek. (Bear in mind that it's only a radar app, so you'll also need an app for the extended forecast.)

RadarScope is designed for weather enthusiasts (and meteorologists) that want to view NEXRAD Level 3 radar data and severe weather warnings.

It displays the latest reflectivity, velocity, and other radar products from any NEXRAD radar site in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico. Most radar apps on iOS simply display smoothed PNG or GIF images but RadarScope displays real Level 3 radar data in its original radial format which produces a high level of detail.

If you're a weather enthusiast but not a meteorologist, I highly recommend that you first read the introductory guide to how NEXRAD radars work the help section of the Base Velocity's web site.

RadarScope is different than most other apps in a number of ways:

  • It downloads and decodes NEXRAD data in its native binary format. The files tend to be smaller than pre-processed images and the data are rendered on-the-fly in OpenGL so you can always see the full resolution.
  • It displays a full suite of radar products from NEXRAD and TDWR radars, including doppler velocity, estimated rainfall, and some of the newer dual-polarization products that are part of the NWS's upgrade of the NEXRAD system. It also displays higher "tilts" of standard products, which meteorologists use to see higher level storm structure.
  • It's the only app on iOS, Mac, or Android that displays the highest native resolution available from NEXRAD radars (called super resolution, or level 2 data).
  • It integrates with the Spotter Network, a non-profit web site that aggregates reports from storm spotters. It displays spotters locations on the map and reports their location to the Spotter Network server, allowing forecasters, emergency managers, and others to see where spotters are deployed relative to the storms.
  • It integrates with AllisonHouse, a subscription data service that provides an alternative feed for radar data as well as storm reports, Storm Prediction Center outlooks, and lightning data.
  • It integrates simple, custom maps into the app so it doesn't use bandwidth downloading map tiles. The result is less geographic information on the map, but a much more usable app for storm spotters in rural areas with low bandwidth (i.e. EDGE) connections.

RadarScope was the first mobile app (on any platform) to browse NEXRAD Level 3 data when it was released in August 2008 and has become the best-selling app of its kind on iOS, Mac, and Android. 

The desktop version of RadarScope ($29.99, Mac App Store) is the first commercial application for Mac OS to support NEXRAD Level 3. Although it has essentially the same feature set, it looks amazing in full-screen mode on the retina MacBook and the 27-inch iMac/Thunderbolt display.

RadarScope: The best Mac OS radar app for weather geeks - Jason O'Grady
Editorial standards