Announced on their blog on March 31, 2020 by co-founder Adam Grossman: Dark Sky has joined Apple.
Unfortunately, this is not an April Fool’s joke that went out a day early.
While touted as “important and exciting news”, it’s a message that is definitely more “important” and less “exciting” for Android and WearOS users; the app has already been pulled from the Play Store, and current users will only retain use until July 1, 2020. On top of this, they are no longer accepting new API users, and the API will be shut down for good at the end of 2021.
Avoiding the political and business discussions surrounding what was most likely Apple’s decisions to do this, the question remains: What are Android users to do?
Originally founded to focus on wind reporting, Windy has expanded into an incredible powerhouse for weather reporting.
To put it bluntly: Windy blows DarkSky out of the water.
Update [Apr. 2, 2020]: Windy.com has been in touch to let me know that they also offer an API that allows developers access to Point Forecast for a flat fee. More details can be found on the Windy API page.
Seriously. It’s unfair to compare the two apps, because Windy makes DarkSky look like a child’s toy. The accuracy and depth of information provided is second to none.
Best of all: It’s free, always has been, and from the looks of things, it always will be.
Where does Windy get its data
Update [Apr. 2, 2020]: Windy.com has been in touch to inform me that they also use many other weather models, namely ECMWF, which is costly but provides amazing resolution; the North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM) for the contiguous United States; and AROME, NEMS produced by meteoblue, and ICON for continental Europe. They also pull environmental data from Copernicus and NASA
- Resolution is 0.1° in lat/lon (~9 km).
- The forecast output is produced every three hours for first 144 hours, six hourly through day 10.
- Sometimes informally known in the USA as the “European model”. More info available at ecmwf.com
- Resolution is ~22 km.
- The forecast output is produced every hour for the first 120 hours, three hourly through day 10.
- NEMS - This model is produced by meteoblue.com, Swiss weather geniuses.
- Resolution is ~4 km, available only for Europe.
- ICON-EU - High resolution model developed and operated by German DWD. One of the most modern forecast models delivering very good results in Europe.
- Resolution is ~7 km, available only for Europe.
- NAM CONUS
- Resolution is ~5 km, available only for continental US.
- NAM Alaska
- Resolution is ~6 km, available only for Alaska.
- NAM Hawaii
- Resolution is ~3 km, available only for Hawaii.
- Resolution is 0.01° (1.25km) available in a western part of Europe including France, Germany and the Alps.
Below is a map showing the regions covered by each system, as well as the global models used.
Unlike DarkSky, they pull in data from a much wider range of sources, and their analysis and modeling goes much deeper. From meteoblue:
Since early 2007, the meteoblue computer cluster is daily-computing high resolution forecasts for Europe, Africa and South America; and since 2008 also for Southeast Asia. In 2013, we have added India, New Zealand and a Global forecast. For other areas, regional models and NOAA/NCEP GFS model runs are processed to generate information covering the entire world.
Starting in May 2008, meteoblue point® offers local forecasts for more than 5 million places worldwide, using proprietary modelling to generate locally adapted forecast for surface and atmosphere. Through the introduction of SPOT® technology, meteoblue became the first supplier worldwide capable of instantaneously showing local weather probabilities in graphical overview for every selected location.
Their offerings are also extremely generous and full featured, for free. meteoblue offers the following on a global scale:
- hourly weather forecast for 7 days ahead
- access to detailed weather forecasts up to 14 days
- comprehensive and appealing climate diagrams with historical data since 1984
- special diagrams like the meteogram airquality, meteogram AIR, Astronomy Seeing
- numerous interactive weather maps for the entire world with a variety of weather variables, different elevation levels and layers
- unique features such as the predictability (accuracy of prediction), the rainSPOT (distribution of precipitation in the surrounding area) and the meteogram multimodel (which compares the forecasts of different weather models)
- where2go, which shows the best weather for a selected region and time
- several weather widgets, that can be configured according to your wishes and can be integrated in own websites for free
- and more that you can see here
Compare this to DarkSky, who only pulls their data from the NOAA’s US-based radar systems. From their kickstarter:
The National Weather Service operates an array of over 140 doppler radar stations throughout the United States, and generously provides the data free to the general public (For more information, check out their site).
Our servers pull in this data, process it, clean it, extract velocity data, and convert it to the animations you see in the above video.
Needless to say, Windy’s data sources are global, and they have a constant feedback loop to verify, refine, and keep their data and models as high-performing and accurate as possible. So maybe it’s a blessing in disguise DarkSky is making this change!
On the note of DarkSky, in their kickstarter they mention other weather apps:
Our personal favorite is the built-in Weather app made by Apple
So maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised by this after all.
Where did Windy come from?
Windy is the brainchild and passion project of Ivo Lukačovič, a Czech entrepreneur who describes himself as “an addicted kiter, helicopter and jet pilot who seeks the wind, waves, METARs and powder snow almost constantly.”
Our goal is to provide the best weather forecasting service in the world.
With a passion for programming, he founded what is now Windy (originally called Windyty) in 2014, and has grown the company into a small but powerful entity in the six years since then. A brief timeline of the company from Ivo himself:
- In 2014 Windy was born, under its former name Windyty.
- In 2015 the Windy team grew to a few more programmers: Milan and Tomas. We use GFS and NEMS as the main forecast models.
- In 2016 we launched Android and iOS mobile Apps and we renamed Windyty to Windytv, which turned out to be a big mistake. As one of the few companies in the world, we have the use of the ECMWF forecast model, which is recognised as the most accurate model available.
- In 2017 our team grew to 5 people and we have changed the name to Windy with nice and short address www.windy.com. During hurricane season Windy become major source of weather information for governments, institutions and individuals in affected areas, virtually saving the lives.
- In 2018 we launched a new European weather radar, thunderstorm forecast and many other major innovations.
- In 2019 we have launched new Satellite overlay, routeplanner, donations, new iOS/Android app Windy Maps and “reality vs. forecast” feature. We have also integrated webcams.travel and lookr.com websites into the Windy. Our team grew to 15 people.
Source: Windy Community Forum
Where to get Windy
Windy is available on both the Google Play store and the iOS app store.
Update [Apr. 3, 2020]: I’ve been in touch with someone from the Windy team who has informed me that there is a copycat product called “Windy.app” - be sure that you are downloading the Windy.com application with the logo that matches their logo at the top of the article.