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Smart phone apps that help you dodge raindrops

iPhone and browser apps create weather reports tailored to you.

By Staff writer / August 23, 2012

Phil Marden

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The news calls for rain and those skies look pretty grim. Do you have time to run an errand without schlepping around an umbrella? Better check your phone.

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The new smart-phone application Raindropping provides hyperpersonalized weather reports. The program uses GPS information to forecast the weather for your exact location.

Once Raindropping has pinpointed your position, it pulls up one of those familiar radar maps with colorful splotches representing clouds. But unlike TV weather reports, the app counts down the seconds, letting you know that it's, say, T minus seven minutes to rainfall and three hours until you're in the clear.

To keep its forecasts accurate, the software predicts only six hours into the future and reassesses the weather every 15 minutes. Even if you weren't expecting rain, an optional alert system can warn you if clouds head your way.

Raindropping works across the continental United States, southern Canada, northern Mexico, and several Caribbean islands.

The ad-supported software is free of charge for the iPhone and at Raindropping.com. An ad-free version costs 99 cents. The company promises an Android and standard-phone version soon.

While Raindropping tries to answer conundrums such as "should the caterers set up tables outside or indoors?" another hyperpersonalized weather service takes aim at road trips.

The Weather Channel's Trip Planner asks where you're headed and when you plan to hit the road. It then draws a full map of the trip, complete with icons representing the weather you'll hit along the way.

If snow or hail might impede your journey, the website lets you experiment with leaving a few hours earlier, departing on a different day, taking an alternate route, or stopping along the way. Trip Planner lets you forecast up to five days into the future, but even a few days stretches the bounds of accuracy. Really, it's best to use this tool as close to your departure as possible.

The Weather Channel also teamed up with review-clearinghouse Yelp.com to provide recommendations for hotels and restaurants at each planned stop. Once you've plotted your course, Trip Planner feeds all of this information into Google Maps for printable turn-by-turn directions.

Visit weather.com/travel/trip-planner.

For more on how technology intersects daily life, follow Chris on Twitter @venturenaut.

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