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Nooly 'nowcasting' weather app for Android aims to end inaccurate forecasts

The world’s first hyperlocal “micro weather” forecasting app, called Nooly, has finally arrived for Android and iOS.
January 30, 2013
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How many times have you had to reschedule a meeting because of a sudden change in the weather? Have there been any instances in your life where you’ve had to cancel an event because Mother Nature suddenly decided to stop cooperating? How about having a fun weekend game of football cut short because rain clouds got the better of the sun that afternoon? Some or all of these problems and more have probably happened to you at least once before. Couldn’t you have done anything to overcome them?

When people are affected by these types of problems, they tend to blame the weather. The weather doesn’t care, it just keeps on changing. Some people, wanting to be more specific, blame inaccurate weather forecasts. And if you tally the number of mistakes that are often made through so-called “local” weather forecasts, you can hardly blame them.

It’s no secret that weather forecasting professionals and weather forecasting apps – available on the Web and on mobile – are not in the business of fortune telling. They take a certain data set and extrapolate to give the public info on what the weather might be like during the next few hours or days. No one has ever set out to give the world truly accurate, up-to-the-minute weather forecasts based on ever updating scientific data. Until now.

Meet Nooly, the weather “nowcasting” app

The world’s first hyperlocal “micro weather” forecasting app, called Nooly, has finally arrived for Android and iOS. Nooly is designed to deliver accurate predictions for more than just daily or weekly changes in the weather. Its creators claim that it can also predict the exact time rain will start and end, as well as when a light rain will turn into a thunderstorm. It has been in development for over a year now and is currently available as a downloadable free app in its beta testing stage.

“Being so hyperlocal brings with it wide range of challenges,” said Nooly CEO Yaron Reich in a press release. And how exactly did they overcome these challenges? By relying on exclusive patented technology, an extensive amount of data that is being updated constantly and expert contributions from two top intellectuals including Professor Daniel Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor John Mecikalski of the University of Alabama in Hunstville USA.

Nooly weather app

What Nooly is up against

Nooly is quietly going up against long-standing weather forecasting industry incumbents like The Weather Channel as well as a number of independent weather forecasting outfits, not to mention the built-in weather apps available in Google and Apple’s respective mobile operating systems. In short, Nooly has got all its work cut out for it. Fortunately, the problem with the current state of weather forecasting is pretty easy to define.

All too often, weather forecasts are wrong because the data used for them is not location-specific. Also, it’s not impossible for weather conditions to change drastically over the course of a few short days, leaving predictions – or forecasts – made a few days prior to be completely inapplicable and irrelevant. As a result, weather forecasts are not very accurate and therefore not as reliable as the public needs them to be.

Why Nooly will win

With the use of data gathered in real time from two NASA satellites and over 260 National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) radars, Nooly promises to deliver accurate weather predictions for “every neighborhood / park / road / district in the Continental U.S.” This covers over 13 million locations in the U.S. and Canada, where user location data is used to localize predictions to areas within 0.4 square miles.

Nooly also gives users the option to see weather predictions with 5-minute, 15-minute, and 1-hour intervals. This is what makes its forecasts worthy of being called “nowcasts” that are designed to be accurate predictions of the weather within the next 5 minutes.

A few noteworthy shortcomings

Though it is fighting an uphill battle, Nooly seems to be in pretty good shape, what with the extensive amount of data and the exclusive patented weather forecasting technology on its back. Still, it is not without problems.

Currently, Nooly sits with a 2.8 star rating on its Google Play page, where users have constantly complained about its sluggishness and problematic user interface. One reviewer called it “too portastic” and said it needs work. “It’s a good idea and all the right information is there but the app needs a serious UI update,” he added.

Crave‘s Tim Hornyak also weighed in on Nooly in a piece published on CNet recently. Hornyak says he almost declared Nooly better than AccuWeather or The Weather Channel, until he ran into an inaccurate temperature. “I noticed that Nooly got the local temperature in Montreal wrong, repeatedly listing it at minus 16 C (3 F) instead of the actual reading of minus 9 C (16 F), which I confirmed with a thermometer,” said Hornyak. “That’s a big discrepancy – a long-johns false alarm. Maybe the local version of the algorithm needs tuning.”

Nooly’s future

Is it safe to say that Nooly is now the world’s best weather forecasting app, whether on the Web or on mobile? Not yet. Even its own creators, which boast its use of “cutting-edge technology and breakthrough algorithms that represent a scientific breakthrough in the field of cloud physics and meteorology,” are quick to point out that it is “a work in progress” and that a “few bugs and some other issues (in the app or in the prediction) may happen” during usage. But there’s no denying that it’s an app that’s trying to solve a hard problem. And if things turn out all right, it will be doing just that for people across the world for many years to come.