Walks before Dark Sky
I like to go for walks for exercise, but back in the day before apps that had weather information telling-me when it would rain, i often skipped walks if i thought it would rain. I even would go out and ask several random people when it would rain and got answers anywhere from “very soon” to “not for several hours” within 5 minutes of each other; not very accurate at all.
Then Dark Sky came out. The first app i know of with hyper local weather information, “it will rain in your location in the x minutes” This was huge, except the first version wasn’t accessible. The developer was responsive though, and after a few weeks and some emails, VoiceOver and Dark Sky played nicely together.
I got caught
I still remember the warm October day before Dark Sky was available, when I went for a walk and got caught in a late autumn thunderstorm that for me came out of nowhere. Once I started hearing thunder, I did what I could to get home quick, but was still totally drenched by the time I got there. Dark Sky has definitely saved me from getting wet a bunch of times since then.
Planning with Dark Sky
Some times Dark Sky will say something like rain in 30 minutes, which lets me plan a shorter walk. A few times I had no idea rain was coming until I’m way out on a walk somewhere and Dark Sky says “rain in (way less time than I want, so then I can try to take shortcuts, or use GPS to find the shortest path home.
wisdom from one of my parent’s friends.
When my parent’s friend Fr. Thomas Lorm was old his doctor wanted him to walk for exercise, but he was susceptible to falling, and his sister was not able to accompany him. They shared a house near a corner, so Fr. Lorm figured if he walked down the one street and back, then turned and walked down the other street and back, he got in his 4 blocks, was only 1 block from home at the most, and his sister could see him from her lawn-chair. I was in college when this happened, i thought it was smart, but also thought i wouldn’t need to do anything like that until I was way older. Then, one day when Dark Sky told me i only had a limited amount of time for a walk, I remembered Fr. Lorm, and walked in a similar pattern he used to do. I did get sprinkled on a bit but was not far from home so found his wisdom served me also, even at a much younger age, and still fit in a distance close to what I would have done if I’d gone farther.
Yesterday I planned a similar walk, got back 10 minutes before the rain arrived. Maybe everyone already figured this out, but I thought I’d share this anyway. I really don’t like being out in the rain, and my electronic devices even less; so, the drier the better.
contemplating hyper local weather information
Though Dark Sky was the first, there are other good apps with hyper local information today. Most will say that Carrot Weather is the best weather app on iOS, but Apple bought Dark Sky and now similar alerts appear in Apple’s stock weather app that comes with their iPhones. Some might say, just look outside, but for a blind person hyper local weather was revolutionary.
Another form of hyper local weather is getting lightning alerts. Again, most people can’t miss seeing lightning flashes but for me, apps that alert me like Storm Shield are valuable. I’ve gotten alerts when thunder is not audible, I’d rather not be out when lightening is around.
It has been possible to get whether watches and warnings for years, and that is also great to have, these extra alerts useful to me complete my weather awareness. Now that more apps are gaining these capabilities, the gap between blind and sighted is in another additional way, less wide.