Introducing version 1.5 of the Space City Weather app, which of course you should immediately download

When we launched the Space City Weather app last year, our goal was to give Houston-area residents everything they needed to know about local weather in a fast, readable, and intuitive format. We feel like we met that goal, and judging from your reaction, so did you! We were blown away by the number of downloads, which quickly surpassed 100,000, and has continued to grow. We’re also glad to see people using the app, particularly when it was needed most during periods of severe weather.

Because that was just the beginning for the app, we asked what features you’d like to see, and to let us know about bugs and frustrations. You gave us plenty of feedback, and for the past few months we’ve been using that data to make a more perfect SCW app. In large part due to your generous support during our 2021 fundraiser, we’ve been able to make some significant upgrades.

To that end, today we’re announcing version 1.5, and we consider it a collaboration with our users. Here’s what is new:

• The Houston area is a big place, and weather in one locale can be dramatically different from conditions in another. So we’ve more than doubled the number of cities in the app to a full dozen. We now track Houston (IAH), Hobby airport, Conroe, Galveston, Katy, Tomball, Beaumont, League City, Sugar Land, Lake Jackson, Baytown and Pearland. Tap the three-line menu in the upper left of the main page to see the list, and switch locations.

• We’ve added rain chance percentages to both the hourly and daily forecast tables on the main page.

• There’s a new, live National Weather Service radar page, accessible by tapping either the radar thumbnail at the bottom of the main page or the new Radar icon at the bottom of the app. You can zoom in and out to get a closer or wider look at radar conditions.

• You can now toggle between Fahrenheit and Celsius in Settings.

• We’ve fixed some frequently reported bugs, such as Android users’ inability to zoom in and out of images.

• There are tweaks to the layout and interface to make the app more attractive and intuitive. For example, the Settings icon is now found at the top of the list of cities for quicker access. 

There are two things we have not changed. We still don’t collect your personal information or do any kind of tracking. And, of course, there’s still no hype in Eric and Matt’s blog posts. 

The new version of the app should be showing up as an update for both iOS and Android users. And if you haven’t yet installed it, you can find it in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store by searching for “Space City Weather.”

We hope you enjoy SCW 1.5. If you run into any problems, let us know via email at [email protected] And keep those feature requests coming. We’re already thinking about what to do next!

It’s finally here! Introducing the Space City Weather app

I’m very excited to announce today that our brand new app is available for download immediately. Dwight Silverman, who wrote this introductory post, and the developer, Hussain Abbasi, worked through the entirety of Memorial Day weekend to complete this app for the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. We strived to deliver a product that is simple, powerful, and just a tad whimsical. I hope you like it. Here’s Dwight with more …

The Space City Weather app was designed to be easy to use and focus on the content available from the site, while quickly providing you with the weather information you need at a glance. It’s also intensely Houston-centric – which is why, for example, you’ll find humidity sharing equal billing with the current temperature atop the home screen.

Because if you live in Houston, it’s always about the humidity.

The app is divided into three simple screens. At the top of the initial screen are current conditions, the hourly forecast and the most-recent Space City Weather posts. As you scroll down, you’ll see a seven-day forecast and the current radar from the National Weather Service.

Because the metro Houston area is so vast, you can choose from one of five zones closest to you for forecasts and conditions. Just tap the city name at the top to switch between Houston (Bush Intercontinental Airport), Hobby Airport, Conroe, Galveston and Katy. You’ll have to do this manually, because we’re not tracking your location. (Hey, if you’re making your third trip to Shipley’s today, that’s your business, not ours.)

Tapping the middle icon at the bottom takes you to an index of the past week’s SCW posts. Tapping on any of those—including the posts featured on the first screen—will let you read them in their entirety in the app.

The third screen is for those who want easy access to weather discussions from the National Weather Service, which are written by forecasters at the agency’s office in League City. We think this provides a nice supplement to Space City Weather, and offers a slightly more technical analysis of the forecast. It updates several times a day. In this feed you’ll get the short and long form discussions, as well as specialty reports for marine and aviation interests. When the NWS issues weather alerts, those appear at the top of this screen, based on which zone you set on the home screen.

At the top right of the NWS screen is a gear icon that takes you to settings, including controls for which push notifications you’ll receive. Now, there’s no more need to check your email or Facebook to find out when we’ve updated during a storm. You can also control how many posts are retained, and learn more about the SCW Flood Scale.

Our app doesn’t try to replace detailed, general weather or radar apps you already may have on your mobile device. We’re not a huge business with resources for that. So the app brings you the weather you need to know specific to the Houston area, as well as Eric and Matt’s expert insights.

One other thing we want to emphasize: There are no ads, no in-app purchases, no tracking or hoovering of your personal information. We gather diagnostic data to make sure the app is working properly, and that’s it. We respect your privacy.

It’s available for both Android and iOS devices, and the two are functionally identical. We’d like to thank Hussain Abbasi, who developed the app for us with a grant from Arnold Ventures, and our ongoing sponsorship by Reliant. Thanks to their support, and your generous donations during our annual fundraiser, the app is free, and always will be.

This is version 1.0 of this app, and we welcome your suggestions for updates and improvements. As you make suggestions please think local and simple.

And if you spot any bugs (yes, we know there is one with the radar on iOS right now), please report them to [email protected]. We may not be able to respond to each report, but we’ll take a close look at them all.

As always, thanks for being part of the SCW community, and enjoy the app!

Coming soon to a smartphone near you: The Space City Weather app

Last September, in the days following Hurricane Laura, Arnold Ventures reached out to Space City Weather and asked if they could help broaden our reach in the Houston community. Now, thanks to their $25,000 gift, I’m excited to say we’ve been able to move into development of a Space City Weather app. I’ve asked my former colleague at the Houston Chronicle, tech guru Dwight Silverman, to lead this effort. He explains more in today’s post.

Almost immediately after Space City Weather’s launch more than five years ago, readers began asking: When are you going to have an app?

Finally, the answer to that question is: Soon.

Last week, Eric signed an agreement with Hussain Abbasi to develop an app for both iOS and Android devices. Our goal is to have it ready in time for this year’s hurricane season—though since tropical weather happens well before the official June 1 start, we’d like to have it in the app stores before then. And thanks to this gift, the site’s ongoing sponsorship with Reliant, and our generous readers, it will be free for everyone, with no in-app purchases.

I am honored that Eric asked me to shepherd the development, working closely with Hussain and SCW’s technical wizard, Lee Hutchinson. I provided feedback during the development of apps at the Houston Chronicle during my time there, so I’m familiar with the process. Being able to serve this site’s community is exciting, because I feel the same way about Space City Weather as a lot of you: It’s an important asset for the city and the region.

The app we’re building will feature Eric and Matt’s blog posts, local weather info, timely alerts, and many of the things you’d expect—with a distinctly local twist. We are not trying to duplicate the many other meteorological apps out there, because if you’re seriously interested in weather, you probably already have one or more on your phone.

Let’s put it this way: For residents of the greater Houston area, it’ll be a must-have. If you live in, say, Minneapolis . . . not so much!

We’ll share more as the development process evolves. Watch this space. And the skies, of course.