Guest Author - Anita Grace Simpson
AccuWeather.com is an extensive weather information and forecasting resource that I discovered while searching the list of extensions available for Mozilla Firefox, my preferred web browser. I have been a subscriber of the site for over a year, and have found it very helpful in my meteorological pursuits.
One reason is like AccuWeather.com is the arrangement of elements on the web page. At the very top I can search for my local forecast by city and state or zip code, as well as conduct a site search for a topic of interest. Links for international and airport forecasts are also along the top, making them easy to use.
A menu bar is located just below the quick links. Using the menu, I can access forecasts, maps (including radar), products and services, news, and the AccuWeather® community. Below the menu, the page divides into three columns: news and maps are in the center column; headlines, services, links, and features are on the left; and weather videos are on the right (the right column also has ads). When I visit the site, I generally look at the national and regional news first, then view maps via the menu bar. I may also click on the Severe Weather Center or another page under Extreme Weather on the menu.
The Severe Weather Center details all types of severe weather that may occur in the United States. The SWC includes winter weather advisories, although there is also a separate Winter Center. The Hurricane Center gives information on hurricanes and typhoons in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and features and interactive tracker – a great tool during hurricane season! Only hurricanes in the Atlantic or the Eastern / Central Pacific can be tracked, but the site does provide information on tropical weather in other areas, including the Indian Ocean.
The Community section of the site features photo galleries (where you will find some astounding examples of weather photography), as well as the newly launched forums. These discussion boards, which are available to all users after a free registration, experienced considerable popularity while in Beta testing and are now in full launch mode.
My favorite part of AccuWeather® is its desktop weather service. As I mentioned earlier, I use Forecast Fox, the desktop extension for Mozilla Firefox. A bar along the bottom of my browser window continually updates the current weather and forecast for my chosen area. There is a quick link to radar, and an alert when severe weather threatens. I can customize the bar several ways, including changing the symbols for weather forecasts. An AccuWeather.com toolbar is available for Internet Explorer users as well. AccuWeather® also offers free weather for your website or blog, including mobile sites!
AccuWeather.com subscriptions are available at three levels: the first is a free basic subscription, which provides considerable functionality and information. If you would like an ad-free site, in addition to extras such as 15 year historical data, 5 minute radar updates, longer animations, and animated lightning maps, you may wish to subscribe to AccuWeather® Premium. Finally, the Professional level provides the Premium functions plus regional forecast models, aviation and agricultural data, advanced radar, and more. Professional is the recommended version for serious weather enthusiasts.
Although I sometimes visit other weather websites as well, AccuWeather.com is my choice for the most complete and accurate meteorological information presented in an easy-to-read format without overdramatization.