Dark Sky Review
What they don’t do, is look at Dark Sky and the features it offers the fly fisherman - so I wanted to show you why I think this is the best app out there for ensuring you know exactly what the weather is going to be like at your chosen spot, before you set off.
Dark Sky is all about precipitation. Rain or snow it's main function is to let you know where it is, and when it's going to be falling on top of you. It also does a great job of the temperature and other weather related 'stuff' all of interest to the fisherman, but rain prediction is what Dark Sky is all about.
The main screen
Right at the top of the screen, laid out in a really clear and stylish way you get the current temperature the current weather condition (cloudy, sunny etc) and what the temperature actually feels like - so right now as I write this I can see it’s Mostly cloudy outside with a temperature of 3° and falling but it actually feels like 0°.
Directly below this weather overview you’ll get the rain situation - for the last few months this graph has been seeing a lot of action! Through an animated graph (it wobbles and bubbles like a rough sea) you can see if it’s going to be raining within the next 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 minutes and if it’s going to be light medium or heavy rain.
Then, just in case that’s not clear enough for you, Dark Sky rather helpfully spells out in plain english what’s going to happen in the next hour.
The best bit
By far and away the number one feature of the app for the fisherman is the map page. swipe left and you get a map of the globe with every rainstorm picked out in blue, turning to pink then yellow as the storm worsens. By using the standard pinch gesture you can zoom into where you are, then swipe along the timeline at the foot of the screen to see the rain clouds animate through the last couple of hours then on for the upcoming hour.
The maximum level of zoom (recently increased with the latest version) allows you to pin point the weather down to your fishing location (or desired fishing location) then swipe across the timeline to see what the weather is going to do. The animation is really smooth, and does a great job of letting you know if you’ve got any potential down pours heading your way.
As well as the usual temperature and the innovative way of seeing where and when it’s going to rain, Dark Sky also provides even more information...
If you’re a believer that barometric pressure has an affect on a trouts behaviour then you’re in luck. The app gives you the current barometric pressure reading for your location, along with an indication of its activity (if it’s rising, falling etc).
To get to this screen, a single tap on the temperature circle does the trick.
On the same screen as the pressure readings you’ll also find the humidity, along with the Dew Point (whatever that is) as well as the more relevant to fishermen - wind speed and direction. Finally you’ll also get a visibility reading in kilometres (you have to scroll down to see it, that's why it's not on the screen grab).
What about tomorrow (or the next day)?
A swipe to the right gives you the readings for the next 24hrs - the likelihood of rain, the funky line graph showing the temperature and the time the sun rises and sets (handy for those still waters that shut at ‘dusk’ whenever that is!
The recent update to v2 of Dark Sky introduced a long range weather forecast that gives you the low/high temps for each of the next 7 days, the overall weather for the day and then by clicking on a specific day you get an overview of the rain expected for the day.
The system is simple, you’ll get a notification from Dark Sky when ever rain (or snow/sleet) is due at your location. There is an element of customisation in the notification slider - move the little button to the left and you’ll get notifications for the slightest drizzle, to the right for a biblical downpour and anywhere between for fine tuning.
If you’ve an iPad and iPhone, it’s a universal app so once you’ve purchased it you’ll have it available to you on both of your devices.
How do they know?
The guys that built Dark Sky also created ‘Forecast’ in their words “a weather service we built from scratch specifically for the app”. It started out as a Kickstarter project - take a look at their Kickstarter page to see how the graphics looked for the first version, things have changed quite a bit over the last two and a bit years.
If you head over to the site you’ll see the type of information they use in the App, along with the style of graphics (the globe is the same, it’s not zoomable, but you can get a closer view using the local/regional/global buttons at the top. You’ll also be able to see the animation by clicking on the map - go on do it, it’s pretty cool! If you want to know a little more about how it does what it does, this post on the developers blog gives more detail. Well worth a read.
I’ve been using Dark Sky for almost two years, and over the various updates it’s gotten better and better. I find the accuracy of the weather reporting to be pretty much spot on and really like the style and uniqueness of the design. The way the most recent update displays temperature over the next 24 hours and the wordy descriptions are very clever.
It’s certainly caused me to rethink my fishing destination when giving it a quick look before setting off indicated I’d be met by incoming rain clouds and the notifications have resulted in my heading of the river on one occasion just in time to get packed away and in the car as the heavens opened.
There are certainly a lot of weather apps out there, the Met Office have one, and there’s obviously the one that Apple provide with the phone but neither them nor any of the others I’ve looked at give you the super cool radar animation of rain clouds for any location you wish*.
I highly recommend it, give it a try - you’ll be sat on the sofa swiping the bar along the bottom watching the clouds fly by got hours!
*Be warned - Dark Sky is only able to get satellite info for the US and the UK at the moment - they are working on getting more countries on the list!