- Program Startup, Location Services, GPS
- Main Screen – The Rain Clock
- Main Screen – The Bar Graph
- Precipitation Start and End Times
- Forecast Accuracy
- Custom Settings – Intensity Thresholds and Clutter Filtering
- Radar and Satellite Imagery
- General Forecast
- Sites and Cities
- Background Images
- Feedback and Ratings
Program Startup, Location Services, GPS
- Location Services must be enabled.
- User requests are anonymous.
By default, RainAware produces a customized forecast for your location. For this to work, Location Services must be enabled.
You will be prompted on first use to allow this feature. If Location Services is turned off, RainAware can still be used at City locations listed in the app.
In iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > RainAware.
When RainAware is set to your location, “Current Location” will read out in the blue location bar across the top of the screen. Also shown are your coordinates in decimal degrees (north latitude, west longitude). When you browse to a “Site” or “City”, the new location will read out across the Location Bar.
To return to your “Current Location,” tap the GPS icon in the upper right.
Main Screen – The Rain Clock
- Shows precipitation timing and intensity up to 3 hours (180 minutes) out.
- Scale is in “minutes away.” Each tick mark represents 1 minute. Current time is at the top.
- The clock rotates counter-clockwise each minute. When the colors hit the top, it’s raining.
The default view on the Main screen is the 3-hr Rain Clock. This is a graphical display of any precipitation that exists within a 3 hour radius of your location.
Main Screen – Bar Graph
- Current time (now) is on the left side, with the rightmost side being 3 hours from now.
- Taller bars mean precipitation more likely during the 5-minute period.
- Shorter bars mean the forecast is uncertain.
- Red horizontal line indicates your confidence threshold.
Screen 3 of the Main view displays the bar graph. This view shows precipitation probability and intensity in 5-minute increments out to three hours from the current time. Unlike the Rain Clock which distills the forecast down to a deterministic “best guess” estimate, this view gives you a sense of confidence.
At some point in the forecast process, the system must make a “yes/no” decision. This threshold is indicated by the horizontal red line across the bar graph. When the bars rise above this line, we say it’s gonna rain. When they are below, we say it’s not. You can change your probabilistic “red line” threshold in Settings.
Precipitation Starting and Ending Times
We require a solid 15 minute span of time with no precipitation in order to say it will “End.” So, if precipitation is only expected to stop for 5 or 10 minutes, then resume, we will not alert you of an ending time, as it will be very short lived. There is no minimum continuous time for onset of precipitation (we will alert you of rain even if it’s only expected to last for 5 minutes).
All weather forecasts are technically wrong, it’s just a matter of HOW wrong. In general, the further out a forecast goes in time, the less reliable it is.
RainAware does well because it focuses on the short-term, typically the next 3 hours. This is called “Nowcasting.”
A “Nowcast” is a short-term forecast of the current weather. It is weighted heavily in observational data such as radar, satellite and surface stations.
RainAware uses all these data to detect and extrapolate existing areas of precipitation to your location. That is why it performs so well…it is based in observation, not prediction.
RainAware distills all available information into a single, best-guess estimate. This estimate updates on a regular basis to stay ahead of changing conditions, ensuring the most accurate forecast possible.
Estimates get more accurate as the event nears. For example, a rain time 30 minutes from now is going to be much more accurate than a rain time of 180 minutes. Why?
- Rain that is close to you is likely to persist 30 minutes from now, while rain that is far way may dissipate before it gets to you (if it does dissipate, RainAware will update your times).
- Sometimes it is difficult to get an accurate motion on existing precipitation, or, the direction changes slightly over time.
A RainAware forecast of rain at your location, in the most literal sense, means that
“Rain has been detected by radar, and at it’s current motion,
will impact your location at the specified time.”
Things that can cause erratic rain times include
- A sudden formation or dissipation of precipitation.
- A change in direction.
- Precipitation that is developing in place and not moving very fast.
- Radar noise or “Clutter” can produce false positives if not filtered.
- Extremely light rain like drizzle can go undetected by the radar.
- Beam blockage by mountainous terrain. If we can’t see it, we can’t extrapolate it.
- Rain shadow effect in the leeward side of mountains (strong down-slope flow can squash precipitation).
While the above items can weak havoc on rain times, many of them can be mitigated by the user with custom settings.
Custom Settings – Maximum Control
- Define what intensity of “rain” you care about.
- Pick a confidence threshold for your forecast.
- Directly interact and control the RainAware system (advanced).
What is “Rain”? Sounds simple, but we need to define it. Is it drizzle? A few sporadic drops? A steady, street wetting shower?
Although RainAware strikes a balance between detecting most rain while filtering out false alarms, different users have different needs.
Setting 1: Precipitation Intensity Threshold
The Default setting is recommended and best for most users.
However, if you find that RainAware misses too much rain in your area, you can switch to Any Intensity which will drop the dbz threshold used by the system. This will detect more precipitation, but it might also include more false alarm situations.
You can choose to detect Only Substantial Precipitation if you do not mind getting “sprinkled” on every now and again. Also use this setting if you are averse to false alarms.
Setting 2: Confidence Threshold
You can see the confidence threshold value by looking at the bar graph on the third page of the main view. The default is 30%.
If you look closely, you will see a red horizontal line across the bar chart. This is your Rain Threshold. The default value is 30% for a 5 minute period. When bars meet or exceed this level, that is when precipitation is forecast to occur, and time estimates are provided. When values fall below this line, RainAware knows there is precipitation nearby, and will continue to monitor for any changes.
You can adjust your rain threshold to meet your needs. Go to the Settings page and choose Low, Medium, or High.
Users who are particularly sensitive to rain may want to choose “Low.” You will probably never be surprised by rain, even light, with this setting. However, this will increase the number of false alarms, or times when rain does not actually occur.
For users who do not want to be alarmed of precipitation unless it is all but certain, the “High” setting is recommended. With this setting, you will receive little false alarm. However, the trade off is that in some instances, the amount of warning time may be decreased.
We recommend the default “Medium” setting, which is the best balance of maximizing long range detection and minimizing false alarms.
Setting 3: Clutter Filtering
In some radar areas, clutter is a major problem, especially at night. Although we have default filters in place, clutter can still come through as rain in some situations.
Is clutter a problem in your are? A dead giveaway is if RainAware says it’s currently raining, but it’s actually dry outside. If this happens, choose “Squash Clutter” in your settings. Please note that this setting might also filter out legitimate light sprinkles.
We provide timely radar imagery with your position plotted so you can see where precipitation is relative to you. Animate the radar to more clearly see trends and to also verify the RainAware forecast.
We provide 1km visible satellite imagery with your location plotted. See clouds moving, building, forming and dissipating by animating the imagery.
See the 7-day forecast with general precipitation chances, highs, lows, etc. It’s the “old” way of doing things! We highlight days with precipitation green or blue.
A nice feature of RainAware is the ability to monitor other places at a glance. On the Sites view, we provide several categories of locations around the country including Airport, selected cities, stadiums and more. You can tap any location in the site list to see the rain clock for that location.
Pick a state and city to fly to that location as if you were there. Choose from over 14,000 US cities. Remember, your city does not need to be listed in order for RainAware to work, as it uses your GPS location by default.
The background images change depending on weather conditions and time of day. There are several categories of backgrounds, including day and night, dry, rain, heavy rain, thunderstorms, snow and ice. Typically, the user will see a partly cloudy sky when no precipitation is expected. If precipitation is detected, but still several hours away, the background may become cloudy.
The big changes occur once precipitation is within 1 hour of affecting you. Due to increased confidence, this is when the backgrounds become specific, depicting rainy, stormy, or snowy scenes. For example, you will see vivid lightning for nighttime thunderstorms. You can turn enhanced backgrounds off at any time by going to the Setting page and under “Background Images” choosing “Simple.” This will result in a solid color scheme.
Feedback and Ratings
At the bottom of the Settings page you will find buttons to rate RainAware in the App Store and to send us direct feedback.
We cannot overstate how important your feedback is to us. Please, contact us directly if you have any questions, comments, complaints or suggestions. It’s your app, get involved!
We also read every review, but cannot respond. Therefore, we recommend using the Feedback button if there is an issue that you would like addressed.
Alternatively, you can contact us via our website here.