Dark Sky goes Dark (Read 2057 times)


  • ***
  • obsessive maniac
  • Posts: 365
  • Karma: +32/-0
Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 12:04:37 am
So as the Dark Sky weather app, that was my go to rain radar, has been bought by Apple and will be removed from Android by the 1st of July, I have been investigating other weather apps for when we get to go and climb again. Below are the apps that I have decided to use, I hope that someone else finds them useful. Also if anyone has any other good weather apps to help stop wasted days of poor conditions (I am a time poor dad) then please let me know.

VentuSky - lovely looking rain radar with wind displayed at the same time. Data source is EURAD for the rain radar and ICON for the forecasts (this is run by DWD who are the German Metoffice) changing to the American GFS model at longer range.

FlowX - rain radar with cloud cover. Also has relative humidity and dew point overlays to the map available for free which maybe useful for assessing potential conditions in different areas. Not a radar all based on forecasts at either 6 or 12 hour intervals depending upon if you select the GFS American model or the CMC Canadian model, I currently am using the CMC model as even though it only updates every 12 hours it has a resolution of 15km instead of 25km and seems to be slightly more accurate.

Metoffice - we all know the Metoffice, UK based forecasting. App is ok however i don't find the maps as nice to look at or as easy to use as some of the others.

BBC Weather Maps - no app for this just have a shortcut set up with a direct link to the website, this is a bit clunky however it lets me see the information i want. Data source is the MeteoGroup and can sometimes give slightly different forecasts to the MetOffice/others. - only use to look at long range overviews when i don't want to consult a map and make a judgement myself. Data source is the Norwegian Metoffice equivalent. Generally pretty reliable forecasts and a very simple to use app.


  • **
  • menacing presence
  • Posts: 246
  • Karma: +25/-0
#1 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 12:57:25 am
I don't know what their mobile app is like, but since is not in your list i suggest having a look at meteoblue.

I use their web version a lot as there's a customisable app with 'radar' functionality for a first look, and then instead of depending on trusting just the one weather forecasting model, you can go to a specific location page and see the forecast from all models for that location so you can make the call with regards reliability of forecast and'or follow whicever model you think more accurate.

In a certain location's main page there's a host of useful stuff, from standard meteograms to rain radar, satellite/precipitation current and historical animation, etc
If the app turns out to be not great there's always the using it in-browser.

For example:

Radar map for the Scafell

Multimodel for Scafell

A 'where to go' function that you input location and radius and it points you to the places with the best weather

And Scafell's page


  • *****
  • forum hero
  • Posts: 20244
  • Karma: +638/-11
#2 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 07:22:59 am
I like snowradar. Which despite its name has a decent interface for the present (10 min ago) rain radar - the near model (basically interpolatijng where that rain goes based on trajectory) and then to a 5-6 day model with 2-3 hour outputs.


  • ****
  • forum abuser
  • Posts: 571
  • Karma: +22/-1
#3 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 09:46:49 am
I use a mixture of Metoffice, and Weather Underground.

Overall, I have found this to be the most accurate combination for working out what is going on. I've tried plenty of others over the years and haven't found one single source that can accurately give you all the information you need.

I actually find that looking at the individual forecasts for lots of locations and building up a mental map is usually more useful than looking at rain radar maps. My standard procedure for a weekend in the peak is to start to look on Thursday and look at the forecast for a location on the Eastern Grit, Western Grit, Southern Grit, Eastern Lime, Central Lime and Churnet. I'll then narrow down locations if conditions are looking very marginal. I will occasionally look at radars after, but I've usually got all the information I need by then to know what is going on and which crags will have the best chance of good conditions.

Using this method, I have consistently been able to get out on weekends in good conditions on days when everyone else is complaining about the crap weather and resorting to training indoors. Even on this terrible winter, I climbed every single weekend except one where we decided not to bother with the drive. Two of those were days in slightly marginal conditions at Roche and Cademan but the rest were all good.

Useful for an overall idea of the weather. Not as accurate in the past couple of years as it used to be. The app is decent and it takes 30 seconds to get a good overview of all of my saved locations. Overall, it is slightly pessimistic in terms of rainfall.
Useful mainly for millimetres of rain. Will not give you info on things like fog/clag. Overall, it is slightly optimistic in terms of total rainfall expected. The app is decent if quite simple. The forecast doesn't have quite as much precision in terms of location as the others.
Its long term forecast uses a completely separate model to its hourly forecast. The long term forecast isn't at all accurate and isn't worth bothering with. Quite often, its long term forecast will be predicting entirely opposite conditions to those predicted by the Metoffice and Weather Underground (and, nearer the time, the hourly forecast). When the day comes around, it is nearly always the long term forecast that was wrong.

Weather Underground:
A caving focused forecast that gives you loads of detailed information. Great for working out which lime crags are likely to be dry on condensey days. The most pessimistic in terms of rainfall. The app is cumbersome, the UI sucks, but the info is useful.
Has the least inaccurate long term forecasts.

Adding in a quick browse of the UKC conditions page for the last 24 or 72 hours gives you a good idea of where has been dry too. If only they would let you save searches for the future.

I have in the past tried AccuWeather and BBC but their forecasts were rubbish, I might as well have just rolled a die and decided based on that.

chris j

  • ****
  • forum abuser
  • Posts: 589
  • Karma: +19/-1
#4 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 01:33:19 pm
I like (both website and the android app). Good visual combination of overall map and local forecast.


  • *****
  • forum hero
  • Posts: 1719
  • Karma: +53/-13
    • Offwidth
#5 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 02:10:21 pm
Not an App but Rain Today mobile is my 1st choice for live rainfall radar.


  • ***
  • obsessive maniac
  • Posts: 341
  • Karma: +10/-0
#6 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 02:41:33 pm
I use weawow which allows some desktop widgets and pulls in stuff from a variety of sources which you can choose from. Been fairly impressed currently using dark sky so maybe that will be able to continue? I'm on Android


  • ***
  • obsessive maniac
  • Posts: 365
  • Karma: +32/-0
#7 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 03:01:42 pm
So after further reading i have ditched as it seems the accuracy is poor for anywhere except Norway where they use considerable additional data to build the model.

Have also ditched FlowX as Windy seems to offer everything this does with better data sources. The only advantage over windy has is how smoothly it scrolls and allows you to move the time forward/back to visualise weather systems passing through, unfortunately i do not think that it will be much use though as both the free GFS (US) and CMC (Canadian) global models do not have a good reputation for accuracy in Europe (note that other data sources are available however these require a subscription). 

Metoffice stays as it is UK based and the app is generally pretty easy to use.

I have added MeteoBlue ( after the recommendation as the Meteograms in the app are brilliant giving cloud cover at different altitudes, precipitation as well as the usual temperature and wind information. I especially like the Multimodel meteogram displaying all the different base weather sources and showing them on one set of graphs. It shows at a glance how consistent the different models are to each other and when they start to diverge, this gives a good idea in the confidence of the longer term weather. The maps are not very pretty and are based upon their own NEMS12 model so i probably won't use.

In terms of maps Windy ( that i downloaded earlier today seems to be very good. Has multiple weather sources [ECMWF (EU medium range forecast)is the default, however you can also select AROME (Meteo France), NEMS (Meteoblue Swiss), ICON (DWD Germany), GFS (Global US based)] The rainfall radar changes automatically depending upon which country you zoom in on (so MetOffice for UK, DWD for Germany). Has humidity and dew point layers with wind direction shown, has a rain accumulation map that you can set for hours or days. Also has a nice meteogram that you can select the weather source or compare between various (not all plotted on one graph as per Meteoblue though so harder to identify when the models start to diverge).

Windy is probably overall more powerful that Ventusky with considerably more layers and easier to select data sources however the Ventusky Radar predicts an hour ahead, and shows wind at the same time as rainfall, whereas Windy is just a radar up to that point in time. Also Ventusky's graphics are slightly prettier and generally smoother allowing more easily to see weather systems passing through as per FlowX (have to click not swipe so is slightly worse), for these reasons i will probably keep it for now. 


  • *****
  • forum hero
  • Posts: 1147
  • Karma: +55/-0
    • YouTube
#8 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 03:17:42 pm
That's a shame  :( I used the DarkSky API when I was first learning R to build a Shiny app that did something similar to the where to go function of MeteoBlue


  • *****
  • forum hero
  • Posts: 3973
  • Karma: +124/-3
  • Was strong but crap, now weaker but better.
    • Photos
#9 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
April 06, 2020, 08:58:50 pm
Basically, there are 4 main weather models:

  • GFS
  • ICON
  • NEMS(Meteoblue)

Most free weather sites use GFS, it's the crudest grid, but the most available. The different sites will present the data in different ways, but essentially, they're not going to differ *that* much in accuracy.

Metoffice seems to use MOGREPS, which is basically a locally tweaked mesh of Northern Europe that runs as a subset of the ECMWF. It *may* provide additional accuracy over ECMWF, but I don't have any data to argue that.

For low level (i..e non-mountain), I find Windy to be by far the most user friendly. You can compare the 4 models listed above to see how the compare, which gives you nice bounds to estimate within (or pick the nicest, whichever mood you're in). It has meteograms, freezing level charts, rain radar. My personal jury is still out on what's the best for Scottish mountains, haven't been getting out enough recently to make a call.

At work, we pay for the MeteoGroup forecast...but we actually make decisions based on Windy, as it's just easier to see the movement of the systems and get a feel for what's going on.


  • **
  • player
  • Posts: 98
  • Karma: +5/-0
#10 Re: Dark Sky goes Dark
November 21, 2022, 05:56:22 pm
Since the withdrawal from Android of Dark Sky, I've been using 'Darker Sky', a third-party Android fork that used Dark Sky's api and data sources. Like Dark Sky, I've found it pretty accurate. Not sure what data sources DS uses but the rain radar is almost always spot-on. Have tried FlowX, Ventusky, Windy, Met Office and none seem to be able to predict rain as accurately.

Sadly, DS is going fully dark on 31 Dec 22 so am looking for an Android app that can match its rain accuracy. Any recommendations?


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2023, SimplePortal