WeatheX app launches to help scientists better understand wild weather

Harrington Park resident Alvin Stone is excited about the launch of the new WeatheX app. Picture: Chris Lane
Harrington Park resident Alvin Stone is excited about the launch of the new WeatheX app. Picture: Chris Lane

Are you fascinated by storms, cyclones and gale force winds?

Macarthur weather enthusiasts can now track severe extreme climate activities and help scientists obtain accurate data.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes – with support from Monash University – has launched a new app which aims to help Australians become better engaged with weather.

People can use the WeatheX app on their mobiles to take a photo and write a description about a severe weather event occurring around them.

Harrington Park resident and centre representative Alvin Stone said data recorded would be sent back to scientists at the ARC and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Mr Stone said all people who recorded weather activity could remain anonymous.

“Data will be used for research into storms, their impacts, how they may be changing and to gather important information that can help us improve forecasting and weather warnings,” he said.

Mr Stone said weather patterns such as rainfall and super cell storms were difficult to accurately measure.

“Severe storms tend to be very localised and can occur where the Bureau of Meteorology has no measuring device other than radar,” he said. 

“A perfect example is when we have a massive storm hitting Campbelltown, with hail, minor flooding and wind gusts while Camden doesn't get a drop of rain.

“There just aren't enough recording stations to capture this - so people are doing a big service by recording storm impacts.”

Mr Stone said Australia was regularly hit by weather events such as tornadoes and hail storms.

“This app will help us get a handle on how they form and what to watch for to make storm warnings more accurate,” he said.

“It will then help people protect their precious property – such as cars left out in driveways.”

Alvin Stone shows off the new WeatheX app. Picture: Chris Lane

Alvin Stone shows off the new WeatheX app. Picture: Chris Lane

WeatheX creator Dr Joshua Solderhelm said the app allowed residents to become “citizen scientists” and record severe weather events.

“The app provides a simple interface for selecting the weather type - such as hail or wind - and its severity,” he said.

Dr Solderhelm said severe weather events were often “under-reported” by standard weather instruments.

“A weather station cannot tell us if it’s hailing or raining,” he said.

“Citizen science reports will help fill these gaps and provide a more complete picture for understanding frequency and severity.”

Dr Solderhelm said the project needed “as many people as possible” to get involved.

“The more reports we have, the more complete our understanding of severe weather events will be,” he said.

“Within Australia, there are no similar apps collecting weather data for research purposes.”

The WeatheX app is available for download now.

For more details, visit the WeatheX website.