Roll your own Dashboard Radar Widget in 30 seconds

I spent the first 30 years of my life in sunny Southern California where the weather report primarily consisted of a recitation of the smog alert levels and information on what was happening in the rest of the country. Having lived on the East coast for the last 15 years weather has become a little more important to me – we actually have a lot of it.

I was playing around with the Dashboard yesterday, looking for a decent widget to help me get a good radar picture of my area. The weather widget that comes with Leopard is okay because it shows a forecast in a pleasing format however for those days when you have a serious thunderstorm in the area or a Nor’easter parks it’s butt on your house you like to get a better idea of when it’s going to vacate the area. For that, nothing beats a nice animated radar view of the weather:
The best weather radar I’ve found for the US is from the Wunderground weather site. So the technique I’m going to share with you will take less than a minute to do and will give you a current, high resolution animated radar picture of your region of the country instantly. It’s really, really easy and all you need is a Mac running Leopard.
Step 1: Load up the Wunderground Radar Mosaic in the Safari web browser by clicking on this link:
Step 2: Click on the region of the country that you would like in your radar map.
Step 3: When your map appears, click on the little Animate button right below the map image.
Step 4: When your animated map appears, click the Scissors icon in the Safari toolbar, then select your animated map and click the Add button in the top-right corner of the browser.
Congratulations! You now have a nice, big (640×480) animated radar weather map of your area whenever you activate the Dashboard. The next time you hear of a storm approaching you can simply pop-up the dashboard and get an accurate picture of where the trouble is. I know this works in Leopard but since that’s the only Mac OS I have I don’t know if this will work in Tiger or earlier.
Don’t live in the US? Want something with an international flavor? The reason the Wunderground map works is because their system generates an animated GIF file. I’ve tried some other sites that use different animation techniques and they don’t work in the Dashboard. If you can find a site that generates radar maps outside the US that work using this technique please mention them in the comments below!
Yes, I know, if you live in Southern California you probably don’t see a need for this. Just use this technique to keep an eye on those of us that actually have inclement weather.