MyRadar: more than just another radar app for pilots

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We’ve been using the MyRadar weather app for over 7 years now and consider it one of the best weather apps for pilots. While weather radar is a standard feature in just about every aviation app today, MyRadar is optimized to immediately show a looping mosaic radar feed for your location when you launch the app. This is perfect for a quick check of precipitation and thunderstorm development before a flight, requiring just one tap on your device’s home screen.

MyRadar has expanded its functionality over the years to show a lot more than just radar though. It now offers a dedicated set of aviation features and 11 different weather overlay graphics to keep you better informed when on the go. Here we’re going to explore the various options and how to customize the display.

Radar

Within seconds of launching the app you’ll see an animated radar picture for the U.S. The main app controls are presented at the bottom of the screen to switch layers and adjust settings.

You’ll want to first familiarize yourself with the Layers view, which is accessed from the third button from the left. This allows you to turn on individual weather graphics to customize the display. There are essentially 3 radar layers to choose from: classic, HD and individual radar sites. The classic and HD modes are free to view and provide a nationwide mosaic of precipitation returns. The “per-station” view requires a $6.99 upgrade but allows you to view returns from individual radar sites, including multiple tilt angles and the velocity view.

Just to the left of the radar toggle switch you’ll notice a small arrow symbol–press this to access the radar settings. These allow you to fine tune the opacity, speed, loop interval and length of the animated radar picture. For the best possible picture set the loop interval to 5 minutes and loop length to 120 minutes, but keep in mind this may take a few seconds longer to load the additional data.

We’d also suggest enabling the animation slider, which will provide controls to pause and restart the animation from the main screen.

Temperature, Clouds and Wind

There are actually 2 separate temperature layers, one accessed from the Radar mode menu that displays color-shaded overlays, and a separate toggle in the main layers menu that shows individual location reports.

The clouds overlay provides several views, including an aviation cloud layer that shows the coldest (and highest) cloud tops. Cold cloud tops are often indicative of active thunderstorms that can produce severe or extreme convective turbulence. There is also an option to display a view of water vapor in middle and upper portions of the atmosphere.

The wind layer displays an animated view of the surface winds to give you a big picture view of low-level wind flow patterns. The following example highlights the location of a surface low pressure system over Nebraska.

Severe weather

One of our favorite thunderstorm forecast charts is the Convective Outlook issued by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), which provides a big picture view of the potential for severe weather each day. MyRadar includes this as an overlay option in the Weather Outlook menu and it’s one you may want to consider leaving on all the time, set to a low opacity, during the convective weather seasons. These are issued daily at 0600Z and updated 4 times throughout the day.

You can also enable severe weather watches and warnings to keep an eye on rapidly changing in-climate weather while on the ground.

Aviation layers

MyRadar includes a dedicated Aviation Layers menu that displays SIGMETS, AIRMETs, TFRs and Flight plan routing. Tap on each layer to view the details.

Active TFRs are shown in red, and upcoming TFRs are shown in yellow. This is a layer you’ll want to always leave turned on to further increase your awareness of TFRs.

You can enter your airplane N# in the flight plan field and see the route for filed flight plans.

This is a great tool since it’s all automatic and allows you to quickly view your upcoming flight in relation to the radar picture.

MyRadar includes a selection of other features, including earthquake and hurricane tracking, storm chaser photo/video, daily weather forecasts and social media photo sharing features. The app just received a new update last week that further improved the speed, and added an optional forecast widget to view on the Today view of your iPhone or iPad.

MyRadar is available as a free download version here for iPhone and iPad. There is also Pro version available for $1.99 and removes the ads from the screen. There are several additional upgrades to consider once in the app, including the ability to unlock the Apple Watch companion app for $0.99.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great article…..
    Read multiple times. Cannot seem to access much of anything you present. One example: refers to the radar toggle switch. I fail to see anything labeled as such, nor do I see the little arrow to the left of the radar toggle switch. Note, I have “radar pro”. Will appreciate some guidance other than what the help screen shows.
    Thanks

    • Art,

      I added a few more screens in the article to show how to do it. After tapping on Aviation Layers in the Layers menu, select Flight Plan and you’ll then see the N# field.

      Bret

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