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Weather sites storm Internet

August 8, 1997
Web posted at: 7:14 a.m. EDT (1114 GMT)

From CNN Interactive Writer Wayne Drash

(CNN) -- Want to track hurricanes without waiting for the 6 o'clock news, or find up-to-the minute forecasts for your favorite hot spots?

Information once confined to meteorologists has rained down on the Internet in recent years, sweeping across the vast cyberspace terrain like a blistering Midwestern thunderstorm.

Weather sites inundate users with an array of data and satellite imagery that pinpoint storms, highlight jetstreams, provide daily temperatures and forecast weather conditions for just about anywhere in the world.

Some sites flash breaking weather-news bulletins with fancy graphics and in-depth articles. Others rely little on graphics, instead providing detailed information without the Internet's bells and whistles.

Farmers can check the sites to monitor weather conditions; travelers can consult them to plan vacations. A few sites even provide flight information to ease travelers' airport worries.

The sites have the potential of saving lives by warning of hazardous road conditions and helping people find the best escape routes in severe weather.

The following are sites to help track Mother Nature:

Weather channel

The Weather Channel is one of the most extensive weather sites on the Web. International and U.S. satellite maps detail current weather conditions. Some images show time-lapsed cloud movements. Others highlight current dew points, among other conditions.

The Weather Channel's Travel Conditions, a link off the home page, lets users check flight information at 100 of the busiest U.S. airports. Vacationers will enjoy The Weather Channel's Boat and Beach site. It features a map of the United States that shows, by area, the intensity of the sun's rays or risk of sunburn. This is measured by an Ultraviolet Index. The site also provides helpful safety tips.

The Weather Channel also has special sites dedicated to gardening, health and allergies and aviation.

International users, however, may be disappointed with the site's U.S. focus.

The National Weather Service, its Web site says, sets out "to provide weather and flood warnings, public forecasts and advisories for all of the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, primarily for the protection of life and property."

The site lives up to its billing. Select a U.S. or international city, click and -- voila -- within seconds the site responds with current wind conditions, temperatures and the relative humidity.

Users can track the latest hurricane information -- often before local news stations report on storms -- thanks to the weather service.

The site also features detailed weather warning information. For example, at the time this article was written, flash flood warnings for the Northern Edwards Plateau in Texas had just been lifted.

Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center supplies users with in-depth forecast information on tropical storms and hurricanes, or cyclones, around the world. Users particularly should visit the site's stunning satellite and radar pictures provided by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The site also lists the names of storms up until the year 2002. Chat with meteorologists, check local forecasts and observe hurricane movements at Accuweather, a small seasonal forecasting service that has grown into one of the world's premiere forecasters.

Agriculture Online targets farmers seeking the latest information on soil temperature and moisture, wind speed and other weather conditions.

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