Weather 2.0: Interactive online tools for keeping tabs on Mother Nature

Poor weather. The size of the weather page is shrinking in newspapers across the country and the meteorological report is almost always at the end of the television newscast. Many radio stations still read the weather at the top of the hour, but that’s been happening since Marconi pushed the on button. However, there are a group of online sites that are bringing a new twist to an old phenomenon.

Old standby The Weather Channel/ is also a vibrant social network. Users can post photos and video of good and bad weather happening around them and discuss local climates on the site’s message boards. In addition to its hour by hour, weekend, 10-day and monthly forecasts, boasts interactive maps, a bookmark-worthy blog written by weather experts and meteorologists and other weather-related tidbits that are too numerous to mention.

By now you’re familiar with the broadcast TV weather map that has the temperature of an area overlaid on a map of that area (i.e. 75° in Miami, 32° in Seattle). Weather Bonk has scaled that map down and made it available with just a click. Regional temperatures across the globe are plotted on an interactive Google Map, along with storm warnings and embedded webcams.

WunderCam and EarthCam also take advantage of webcams stationed around the country to display local weather condition. While the sites’ individual coverage doesn’t exactly blanket the United States, there are many webcams to choose from.

Do you love a good sunset? Wish the natural splendor of the sun setting on the horizon would last forever? Well, Eternal Sunset took this idea and ran with it. The site is collection of 266 webcams around the world, all facing west to capture the sun set in 48 different countries. Eternal Sunset also has two maps that assist in determining where the sun is setting at any given moment.

Sunset at 9 am PST, 6 pm Central European Time. From left, Carro, France, Santa Ponsa, Spain, Riederalp, Switzerland

Eternal Sunset Realtime Global Map

Several sites, including WeatherBug, RSS Weather and the aforementioned Weather Channel, are taking advantage of RSS technology to make up-to-the-minute weather alerts available through RSS feeds. Distributing something as useful as weather predictions through RSS is a great way to encourage users to subscribe to your content and is also a great branding tool.