May has just begun, and the weather has not been good – for the last week, it has been snowing and raining. Over the last weekend of April, we even had a big snowstorm wreaking havoc around Alberta. Although it’s a prime Milky Way window, I’m not getting out for any night photography :(. It is pretty evident that the skies are going to be cloudy, all the forecasts are relatively consistent in saying there is going to be a lot of snow and rain, and you can (should) stay in at night.
There are many resources available for checking the weather with a general overview and many for more detailed information. Sometimes they all agree, and sometimes none of the forecasts agree. That is a frustrating situation and at that point, it might be a guess and taking a chance on what seems the best. Below I have listed some of the resources I often use and cross-reference when I want to find clear sky windows for night photography. I use them for figuring out if sunrises and sunsets have potential as well.
The Weather Network
The Weather Network is great for checking out an overview for short term and long term forecasts. If I’m going to be shooting near a city or town that I can search on the site, I start here.
Graphs! This excitement for graphs come from my background in physics. SpotWx has various models you can check through. I usually look through the first few numerical weather models for Canada on the page. You can again search for your location by name or visually by using the map on the page. Looking through the various graphs, you can find cloud cover and perception over time. The other useful chart is for wind and pressure. For example, knowing the wind speeds and wind gusts can help you decide if you are going to get reflections in a body of water.
Windy is excellent for visualization and is probably my favourite weather app/resource to use. It was developed by a helicopter and jet pilot and is considered one of the most accurate weather apps (but because weather is challenging to predict, this can be very wrong too). You can view many different weather layers, from full cloud cover and precipitation to wind and temperature.
This app is free for iOS and Android.
Sometimes when I need more convincing, there are a few other apps and sites I check out: