Seymour Mountain snowshoeing trails

6 apps to help you weather the winter

Seymour Mountain snowshoeing trails

Winter in Canada is wild and beautiful. Weather apps can keep you updated on conditions on the hills and roads throughout the country. (Jen Arbo photo)

Story by Tricia Edgar Outdoors Columnist

Weather is the quintessential Canadian topic. We have so much of it. With a vast country to explore and winter on the way, we have snow and ice, torrential rains, and pea soup fogs. Much of Canada’s weather is beautiful, but a lot of our winter weather can be cold and damp at times, so it’s best to be prepared. With good preparation, you’ll be ready to enjoy whatever the weather holds and relish the beauty of winter’s rain, snow, and mist.

Whither the Weather

What’s the weather going to be like? That’s the multi-million-dollar question when you’re packing for travel. If you’re wondering what the weather is doing in the place that you’re about to visit, try out Partly Cloudy, the weather report for the infographic-oriented. This simple weather app looks like a clock and gives you hourly, daily, and seven-day forecasts for multiple locations. It’s gloriously simple so you don’t get confused by graphs and graphics galore. You can switch between places, so if you’re in Vancouver and migrating to Calgary, you can get the forecast for the days in between. $1.99.

Take a Hike!

If you want to take a hike, you need to take a look at what’s going on outside. It’s sunny now, but will it be raining in 20 minutes? Is there hail just over that hill? While weather forecasting is tricky at the best of times, SkyMotion takes the art to a new level, providing specific weather information for your site for the next two hours. Improve your weather-divining skills with apps that push the boundaries of forecasting.

Surf’s Up!

For those crazy winter surfers who love the big waves, check out the free Surf Report. Watch videos and find the best beaches nearby. This app gives you surf conditions and a forecast for the next two days, so you don’t need to check in at your hotel before you head to the waves. For those who want to take a walk on the beach, Surf Report also gives tide and water conditions so you can scope out the beach before you head out on a hike. Free.

The News From the Mountain

Need a snow report? If you’re heading to the local mountains or mountains a little bit farther afield, or you’re just heading off on a jaunt through fields and forests on your cross-country skis, you’ll want to know if there’s any snow out there and what it’s been doing. Are you going to have a smooth slide through the snow, or will there be ice and fog?

On the Snow’s snow report gives you real data from the hills, capturing data about fresh powder and giving you live views from the hills. Now if you’re heading into fog and ice or clear skies and fresh powder, you’ll be ready for the weather. Free.

Ride Out the Snow

You know that curmudgeonly, plaid-loving uncle who starts fires with sticks and hunts for moose with his bare hands when it’s thirty degrees below? No, neither do we. But now his wisdom can come to live in your mobile device. If you’re driving on the highway and a blizzard hits, the Winter Survival Kit for your phone will tell you how to make it through. This app gives you your location, helps you call 911, and stores your emergency contacts. It also helps you determine how long to run your car to keep warm and how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. That way, you’ll make it through the storm warm and dry, and you’ll be back with your own wild story to tell.

Danger – Avalanche!

Hurricane Sandy’s visit to the US East Coast has placed weather prominently in the minds of both residents and travellers. For the more disaster-wary, what about an app that tells you about the likelihood of a natural disaster striking while you’re on vacation? According to the Canadian Avalanche Association, in an average year, 11 deaths occur due to avalanches. Whether you’re a backcountry newbie or an experienced traveller, it’s good to be prepared. The Canadian Avalanche Association has an Avalanche Bulletin app at the ready for you, combining weather reports and avalanche updates. Visit the app before you go, and the information is accessible with or without web access, a bonus when you’re traversing the backcountry. Free.

Canadians have a deep respect for the weather. It shapes the places where we live, the animals that we see, and it works its way into our stories, both in our novels and in our everyday conversation. Canada’s weather is beautiful, but it can be as wild as the country itself. While weather apps aren’t quite as good as being on the ground, they can help you get geared up for whatever winter might bring.

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