Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q) What is weatherTAP?

A) WeatherTAP is a web site that provides direct access to several types of weather information. The site is somewhat unique in that it is updated as soon as the data becomes available. Other weather sites update information in a periodic fashion. For example, some other weather web sites update their radar images every ten minutes (regardless of whether any new information is available) and text products every hour. We are unique in that almost as soon (within seconds) as the data becomes available to us, it is available on the web. That is why we are "the fastest weather on the web."
 

Q) Why should I buy a subscription to weatherTAP when there is so much free weather data?

A) There is no such thing as "free" weather data. There are other sites on the internet that are either supported by advertising or receive government funding. Many users find that the "free" sites meet their needs and are willing to live with annoying ads and limited availability during peak times. Other users, however, find that the quality of product, absence of ads, and certainty of availability, even during peak times, to be worth the modest subscription price. WeatherTAP presents big, bold, screen-filling graphics unencumbered by advertising, at lightning speeds. Since only subscribers can access the service, the number of users is constrained, limiting the maximum load placed on the servers and thus protecting the service from being overloaded, even during peak times, such as hurricane landfalls. This means that in times of crisis, while others struggle to get data from ad-supported and government sites, weatherTAP users enjoy fast response and peace of mind. In addition, the breadth and depth of data available on weatherTAP far exceeds that of most other sites.
 

Q) Do I have to download any software?

A) All that is required is a web browser and internet access.
 

Q) Can I try the service before I decide to purchase?

A) Absolutely. Just click here to fill out a free trial request or call 1-888-717-5301.
 

Q) Do you have archived information?

A) WeatherTAP primarily specializes in real-time data. At this time the only archived data we have are current conditions (METAR) data. This data is archived for 30 days and can be retrieved by clicking on the "View Last 30 Days" button on a retrieved forecast page. You can find other archived weather data at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. Information on archived lightning data can be found here: www.uspln.com
 

Q) Is there a way to avoid having to enter the username and password every time I visit the site?

A) Yes. You may activate the Automatic Login feature to enable you to bypass the login. To set this option, click on the "My Account" link that can be found by placing your mouse over your logged in name in the upper right corner of the screen. Under the "Login" section you will see a button on the right-hand side labeled "Enable Auto Login".
 

Q) Can I repost weatherTAP images on my web site?

A) It depends. You may NOT repost real-time imagery from weatherTAP. However, you may post individual images to your site for educational or journalistic purposes subject to the following rules:
- Radar and satellite images may be re-posted or published, but absolutely no lightning images may be posted or published.
- All re-posted or published images must be at least 1 hour old.
- The weatherTAP copyright message must be retained in the upper left-hand corner and the language "used with permission" and some language crediting weatherTAP as the source of the image must be present.
- In the case of web re-posting, there needs to be a link to http://www.weathertap.com somewhere close to the image.
- You may manually re-post or publish images subject to the above restrictions for use as a visual aid to accompany an article or news event for which you are reporting. Automated and/or continuous manual re-posting of images is not acceptable.
 

Q) Where can I get technical or customer support?

A) First, visit the support page. You may also send support requests to webmaster@weathertap.com or call 1-888-717-5301 M-F, 7AM-4PM Central time.
 

Q) How can I change my password?

A) You can change your password by clicking the "My Account" link that can be found by placing your mouse over your logged in name in the upper right corner of the screen. It is listed under the "Login" section.
 

Q) How can I update my credit card?

A) You can change your credit card by selecting the "My Account" link, found by placing your mouse over your logged in name in the upper right corner of the screen. It is listed under the "Payment Information" section.
 

Q) How do I turn off the auto-renewal feature on my account?

A) You can turn off the auto-renewal feature of your account by selecting the "My Account" link that can be found by placing your mouse over your logged in name in the upper right corner of the screen. Your auto-renew options can be found under "Account Overview". On the right-hand side you will see a button labeled "Cancel Subscription".
 

Q) Can I get a receipt emailed to me?

A) You can turn on a feature that will automatically email you a receipt when a payment is made. You do this by selecting the "My Account" link that can be found by placing your mouse over your logged in name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Under "Past Payment History" there is a button on the right-hand side labeled "Enable Email Invoices", receipts for all future payments will be emailed to you when this is activated. Or, you can view your past payment history by selecting the button labeled "Retrieve Payment History" and print out the statement if needed.
 

Q) Why do I get billed on different days of the month for my monthly subscription?

A) Your monthly weatherTAP.com account is billed on a 30-day cycle because you are paying for 30 days of service. You will be billed 30 days after your previous billing. Since the number of days in a month is different from month-to-month, your billing may not occur on the exact same date each month. If your billing date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, you will be billed on the following Monday. If you need to be billed on the same date each month, please contact our Internet Services Department by calling 888-717-5301 or by emailing webmaster@weatherTAP.com.
 

Q) What information does weatherTAP provide?

A) We provide several types of weather information. We provide real-time NEXRAD doppler radar for approximately 160 sites in the continental United States. National and regional radar imagery is also available. These images are actually composites of the individual sites. In addition to radar data, satellite imagery from the GOES-12 and GOES-15 satellites is also available. We provide both visible, infrared, and water vapor imagery for the North American continent, as well as enhancements and high resolution regional images. Operational data from GOES-16 will be available soon! We also have AFOS graphics available on the aviation weather portion of our site. These are maps and plots prepared by NWS meteorologists. In addition, we receive forecasts, current conditions, and aviation text products from the NWS. As with the images, these are updated on the web as soon as they are made available to us.
 

Q) What is NEXRAD radar?

A) NEXRAD is short for "next generation radar." The official name is WSR-88D. This system was installed by the U.S. government to provide comprehensive weather information for the United States. See the Radar Tutorial for more information.
 

Q) How often is the radar updated?

A) Currently the radar operates in one of three modes. In "clear air" mode, the radar dish makes a complete scan of the sky and produces an image about every 10 minutes. In "precipitation" mode, the radar produces a new image about every 6 minutes. If there is any precipitation at all in the field of view of the radar, then the station will usually change over to "precipitation" mode. A third mode exists but is rarely used. This is the "severe weather" mode and is usually only used for tracking hurricanes,etc. It produces a new image every 5 minutes.
 

Q) What does radar imagery show me?

A) Radar images can be used to detect precipitation and/or storms. Generally, the stronger the signal, the more intense the weather system. Sometimes radar may pick up other things such as intense smoke or volcanic ash, but this is relatively rare, and usually shows up as light precipitation. See the Radar Tutorial for more information.
 

Q) Why are there always radar echoes in the center of the radar image?

A) These radar echoes are not clouds or precipitation, but are usually mountains, hills, buildings, and antennas. This is collectively known as "ground clutter". You see it at the center of the image because that is where the radar dish is located. To scan the sky, the radar dish must be tilted up slightly. As the distance from the dish increases, then obstacles must be very large before they will produce an echo. Obstacles close to the dish, however, do not have to be as big to produce echoes. That is why you usually see ground clutter in the center of the image. Ground clutter is usually more noticeable when the radar is in "clear air" mode, because the radar is more sensitive. When switched to "precipitation" mode, the area of ground clutter usually shrinks. We have attempted to filter out ground clutter from the national and regional radar images.
 

Q) What is the GOES satellite?

A) GOES stands for the "Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite". There are currently two of these satellites actively monitoring the United States, GOES-12 and GOES-15. Both of these satellites are in geostationary orbit about 22,500 miles above the equator. This type of orbit makes the satellite appear to be stationary from Earth. That is why home satellite dishes do not have to be moved to track TV satellites. GOES-12 is currently in orbit on the eastern side of the U.S. For national images, GOES-12 can just barely cover all of the U.S. Currently regional images are limited to areas east of Utah. We receive all of our satellite images from GOES-12. GOES-15 is currently over the western half of the U.S. This satellite completes the high resolution coverage of America. GOES-16 was launched at the end of 2016 and as soon as that data is operational, we will be providing that data as well.
 

Q) How often are GOES images updated?

A) National images are generally updated about every 15 minutes.
 

Q) What does satellite imagery show me?

A) WeatherTAP provides two types of satellite image. The first type is a "visible" image. This simply means that the satellite is essentially taking a photograph of the Earth, just like you would with a normal camera. From above, you can see cloud cover and storm systems. The second type of image is an "infrared" image. This image is produced by a camera that is sensitive to the "infrared" portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, in a range our eyes cannot see. The warmer an object or air mass is, the more infrared energy it emits. The infrared image produced by weatherTAP uses a color code to depict variations of temperature in the atmosphere. Since clouds in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere are very cold, these show up well on the image. This image can be used to track clouds, rain, and storms.
 

Q) It is 10:00PM and all I see on the visible satellite image is a black screen. The infrared image looks fine. What's going on?

A) Since the visible image is essentially a photograph, then you would not expect to see much from a photo taken at night. Since the infrared image does not rely upon sunlight to reflect light, then it is available at night as well as day. For a neat picture, look at an animated visible satellite image in the early morning. You should be able to see the sunrise from space!
 

Q) Where do the forecasts and current conditions on weatherTAP come from?

A) Current conditions are observed and recorded by officials at reporting stations across the U.S. These stations are identified by a three-letter code. These codes appear on the local forecast maps, and those are what you click on to get conditions and forecasts. Current conditions are recorded by officials at the stations, however, forecasts are usually prepared at regional offices by professional NWS meteorologists. The forecasts shown on weatherTAP are the "zone forecasts" for the zones that the stations reside in. A zone is usually a county or some other political boundary, although in some areas zones are delineated based on geographic features (i.e. mountain ranges).
 

Q) How often are conditions and forecasts updated?

A) The conditions are generally reported at the top of every hour. WeatherTAP makes them available on the site as soon as they come in, usually less than five minutes after the hour. If radical changes occur in the current conditions for a station before the next scheduled report, then new conditions will sometimes be reported. WeatherTAP always displays the latest reported conditions transmitted to us by the NWS. Forecasts are usually issued 2-4 times per day depending on the conditions. If a weather event occurs that leads to a radical change in a forecast, then a new one will be issued. As always, weatherTAP always displays the latest issued forecast.
 

Q) What are the funny lines on the "Winds Aloft" and surface observation charts?

A) These are "wind barbs" and are used to indicate wind speed and direction. See the Wind Barb & Sky Coverage discussion page for more info.
 

Q) I can only view old data or old images on weatherTAP. Is something wrong?

A) Your browser is most likely saving older data in cache without asking for an updated page. You may need to refresh your browser's cache from time to time to request the most recent page. Below are various links to instructions on resetting your browser's cache. Additionally, you can frequently hit "Ctrl" + "F5", "Shift" + "F5", or "Ctrl" + "Shift" + "F5" (depending on your browser) while you are on our webpage to refresh your cache.

Select the link that corresponds to the browser you use for instructions:
Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
Internet Explorer
Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, & Google Chrome
 

Q) How do I become a member of the Spotter Network?

A) You can find out more about the Spotter Network and how to become a member by going to www.spotternetwork.org
 

Q) What are your real-time lightning rates?

A) Below are our real-time lightning rates.
Region Size Cost Per Month
First User
Cost Per Month
Additional Users
50 x 50 miles $9.45 $9.45
100 x 100 miles $15.75 $12.60
150 x 150 miles $31.50 $26.25
300 x 300 miles $47.25 $36.75
600 x 600 miles $91.00 $47.25
1000 x 1000 miles $173.25 $94.50
1500 x 1500 miles $220.50 $117.25
Full US National $267.75 $133.00
 

Q) My real-time lightning is not working. How do I turn it on?

A) The first thing you need to do is make sure you have your real-time lightning area defined. To do this, bring up RadarLab HD+ with a radar site that will contain your lightning area. Then click on the Settings button in the toolbar. This will be the third button from the right. When the settings page loads, click on the "Real-Time Lightning Settings" link. Under the "Real-Time Lightning Coverage Area", make sure the latitude and longitude is where you want the center of your coverage area to be. If it is not, then change it to the proper latitude and longitude. If you do not know the latitude and longitude but you do know the address of where you want the real-time lightning, then click on the "Lat/Lon Lookup" button. This will allow you to enter an address and retrieve the latitude and longitude for that address. Once you have made the necessary changes, click the "Save Real-Time Lightning Settings" button and then close Settings page. Now we need to turn on the real-time lightning. To do this, click on the "Lightning" checkbox located under the "Data Layers" section of the RadarLab HD+ Control Panel. You should now see real-time and non real-time lightning strikes. To see where your current real-time coverage area is located on the map, click on the "Real-Time Lightning Area" checkbox located under the "Display Options" section of the Control Panel. This will draw a red box around your current real-time lightning coverage area.