Review: RadarScope (iPhone)

Version: 1.2.0
Price: $9.99
Author: Base Velocity, LLC
Media: Screenshots | RadarScope Intro Video (provided by Base Velocity, LLC)
Purchase: iTunes App Store

There are a variety of weather apps for the iPhone, but being able to see radar relative to your location is probably the most important app to have. RadarScope from Base Velocity, LLC is currently my favorite radar app for the iPhone. While the $9.99 price tag might push some away, I think it is well worth the money for what you get. Rather than downloading a radar image, RadarScope actually downloads raw level 3 radar data and renders it into an image. This gives you much better resolution and accuracy than downloading a simple image. It also uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to plot your location relative to the radar.

While the name of the program may imply a sweeping radar scan feature, it is only there for looks and can be disabled in the settings if you find it annoying. When you zoom in on the radar, numerous city names reveal themselves which is very handy if you’re in an unfamiliar area. The app offers base reflectivity, base velocity, and storm relative velocity radar products. Finally, there is a recently added animation feature which downloads and loops the last 6 radar scans.


  • Uses raw data instead of canned radar images
  • Clean and quick user interface
  • GPS location plot
  • Radar animation
  • Works well even on slower EDGE connection
  • Cons:

  • No road overlays
  • No watches/warnings
  • The app is lacking a few things like road overlays and watches/warnings. I’d also like to see the ability to either create your own custom overlays and/or use feeds from providers like AllisonHouse. This would let you add things like METAR, APRS, spotter network integration, lightning, etc. I have mentioned this to the author of the program and they are looking into this but could not guarantee anything. Overall it is the most useful radar app out there right now for the iPhone and worth the $10 in my opinion. I used it on a short chase last year and it worked pretty well. I look forward to future updates from the author of RadarScope.

    March 8, 2009 – Central IL chase bust

    Nothing like a moderate risk of severe weather to greet you on a Sunday morning in early March. Despite the moderate risk, storms that did fire up would be hauling. The only real chance of an intercept was to pick the right cell at the right time, otherwise you would be out of luck. I loaded up the gear around 10:30am and took the time to install my new wipers. A tornado watch was issued shortly after so it was time to get ready to depart. Being the first chase of the year, I struggled to get the data connection working at the beginning. That delay kept me from heading south to southern Illinois and made me focus more on storms moving through central Illinois.

    I finally hit the road at 11:15am and decided to head west on I-72. A tornado warning was issued for Sangamon and Logan county at 11:40, but of course I was nowhere close at that point. I got off I-72 and went north near Illiopolis to try to intercept what was left of the cell. At this point it was dying out and still booking at 60-70mph to the northeast. As much as I tried, I could not catch up with it. I zigzagged north and east and eventually found Route 121 and headed back home to Champaign.

    Final Thoughts:
    It was fun to get back out there, but frustrating that the chase didn’t result in much. Hopefully I will work out the technical glitches and be ready for the next chase opportunity. Several tornadoes were reported around Springfield, so I think from now on I will just base my target there and take my chances. 🙂

    Total Chase Time: 3 hours
    Total Chase Miles: 150 miles

    December 27, 2008 – Chase in Piatt County IL

    There’s nothing like waking up in December to a tornado watch, flash flood watch, and wind advisory all at the same time. I had my eye on this day for awhile so I was anxious to get back out there one more time this year. The SPC had issued a moderate risk for SW Illinois mainly for high winds but tornadoes were also possible given the amount of wind shear. Things were starting to fire up around 10:00am in western Illinois. I started going through all my gear and realized I needed to reactivate my AT&T data card. Unfortunately, they apparently decided to do away with their unlimited data option for prepaid service so that seriously limited my options. I don’t like to chase without data, so I decided to wait for the storms to get closer before venturing out. I grabbed the camera gear, GPS, and cell phone and left the laptop at home. (old school chasing, sort of!) 🙂

    I hit the road at 12:45pm and headed west on RT 10 from Champaign. Due to the rapid movement of the line of storms, there wasn’t really a target area. The goal was to try to get in front of a bowing section of the line and see what happened. At 1:24pm, I stopped at 2150N / 400E in Piatt County just SW of Deland. That part of the line was just approaching my location, but I did not encounter the 60-70mph winds that the western counties were receiving. I continued on south and then east through Monticello as I tried to keep up with the storms. I stopped again at 1:50pm east of Monticello to shoot some more video of the approaching storms. I put the anemometer on the roof of the car and anxiously watched the displayed. Unfortunately, I only managed to squeak out a boring 36 mph wind gust. I decided to call it a chase at this point and head back home to Champaign.

    Final Thoughts
    Not too shabby for an end of the year chase. Chasing without the laptop was challenging yet was a tad bit fun at the same time. I will need to work out a few kinks for next chase season, but I had fun today. At least all the ice we’ve had melted away today, but we have more on the way. 🙂


    Total Miles: 62

    May 30, 2008 – Central IL chase

    I haven’t chased since 2006 so I was anxious to get back out there sometime this year. If anything it was a good time to test out the new gear that I have acquired since the last time I chased. The SPC had a moderate risk over central IL by noon mentioning supercells and bow echos. I became really busy at work and didn’t have time to look at much data during the afternoon. At 2pm, a Tornado Watch was issued for eastern MO, central IL, and western IN. I managed to finish up work a little earlier that normal and headed home to grab the gear. I had a little trouble with the GPS software, but finally got it working. I hit the road around 3:30pm and headed west on Route 10.

    For some reason, I decided to get off RT 10 just east of Seymour and went south. I didn’t really have a target area at this point, so I was just trying to head west and south a bit. Radar was showing a developing cell with a possible hook over Cass / Mason counties. I wasn’t seeing any rotation on radar at the time, but I was very interested in this cell since it was the closest one to me. I zigzagged my way west and stopped at the I-72 on-ramp just west of Cisco to decide what to do next. My choices were either to go after the cell to my northwest or hit I-72 and intercept a tornado warned cell in western IL. My decision was then made for me as a tornado warning was issued for the closer cell in Cass / Menard / Scott counties.

    I headed north on Route 48 and made my way back to RT 10. (why I deviated from RT 10 in the first place is beyond me) As I made my way west on RT 10, I saw a sign that said ‘road closed’ just east of Clinton. (just my luck) I made a detour into the country for several miles before finally making my way back to RT 10. As I headed through Clinton, it really started to pour. At this point I don’t like the direction the storm is heading, so I bust south on CR 7 and make my way to RT 54. Heading SW on RT 54 I pass about 5 or 6 cars of chasers going in the opposite direction. I try to keep up with the storm and head south and east but gave up that fairly quickly. Radar wasn’t showing much and if there was a tornado it would surely be rain-wrapped.

    I now focused my attention on the tornado-warned cell near Jacksonville. I headed south and found my way to I-72 where I headed west towards Springfield. As I approached Springfield, this cell was definitely looking better than my previous one. I got off at the Veteran’ s Parkway exit (93) and noticed several spotters/chasers sitting on the off-ramp. (probably what I should have done, but I continued on) I found a spot with a decent viewpoint on Spaulding Orchard road just west of CR 5 W. I saw a possible wall cloud, but didn’t see any rotation with it. I happened to hear Andrew Pritchard on the ham radio (146.550) and quickly chatted with him about the storm. He decided to head east and follow this storm while I had my sights set on the next cell to the west.

    I headed south to Auburn and then west on RT 104. I entered Waverly and then headed south of town as I didn’t want to be directly in the path of the possible tornado. I then encountered tons of trees that made me feel more like Missouri than Illinois. At 7:15pm, I stopped at Rouland Road / Summers Road about 4.5 miles WSW of Waverly. I heard Brad Emel calling me on the ham radio as he saw me on spotter network. He was just up the road a few miles from me and was getting ready to bail east I believe. I noticed a bluish tint to the sky to my NW so I figured I was about to get slammed real soon. The flood gates opened up as did the winds. The winds rocked the car pretty good, probably 50mph or so. (didn’t have time to put the wind gauge up on the roof) I decided to bail south just in case I was too close to the darn thing. It was raining so hard I could barely see in front of me. As I was driving away, I heard someone (I think it was Brad) yell ‘Tornado’ on the radio. (of course I couldn’t see jack at this point)

    I finally got away from the insane rain and decided that it was time to call this chase due to darkness. I headed east back to SR 4 and then north into Springfield. I encountered some pretty close lightning outside of Springfield, all while the sky was an orangish color. I made it back into Champaign just after 10pm.

    Well it was an exciting yet very frustrating chase. I intercepted 3 tornado-warned cells and didn’t see any of the tornadoes that were produced. It was fun to be back out there and hopefully I can fix the technical issues and have better success on the next chase.

    Click here to view/purchase photos from this chase.


    Total miles: 297
    Gas prices: $3.98/gal

    June 19, 2006 – Chase in East Central IL

    After not chasing since April, I was beginning to wonder if there would be anything left to chase this year. The morning SPC Outlook had central and eastern IL in a slight risk with the main focus on large hail and damaging winds. The mid-morning forecast discussion from ILX had mentioned the lower freezing level which meant hail would have a better chance than the past few days. A few storms fired up in northern Vermilion county during the morning, but nothing further west. I didn’t really expect anything to fire up, but I kept the weather software rolling throughout the day.

    Around 1:15pm, a mesoscale discussion was issued for Missouri through Illinois regarding the possibility of severe thunderstorms. Storms started firing up in western IL around 2:00pm, but they didn’t look very promising at the start. Eventually the one got its act together and prompted a severe thunderstorm warning for Tazwell and McLean counties. At 3:10pm, a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for central/southern IL to western IN. (yay!) This cell was moving to the east-southeast somewhat towards Champaign county, but it appeared it wouldn’t make the city. (I’m getting lazy!) I decided to give it a go and left work at 3:30pm to grab my gear. (where did I put those darn cameras??)

    As I was getting everything ready to go, radar was showing another cell in DeWitt county moving into Piatt county. This storm had a severe warning and looked promising, so I decided to go after it instead of the other cell that was now in northern Champaign county. I departed Champaign at 3:45pm and headed west on the popular and beloved Interstate 72. (pardon my sarcasm!) I met the storm in Monticello and it appeared to be weakening. I punched the core of the storm and all it could muster was very heavy rain. I headed south on Route 105 in an attempt to get behind the storm for some structure shots. I stopped a few miles southeast of Bement at 1000N/600E and took a few shots of the storm to my northeast. A nice hail shaft was visible and radar was indicating that the storm was building again.

    I bailed south to Route 36 and then went east into Douglas county. As I neared Tuscola, I saw one of the best rainbows I have ever seen stretched across the highway. (skittles anyone?) The one end of the rainbow was illuminating a house which looked amazing, but unfortunately it started raining so I couldn’t get a picture. I headed south about a mile on Route 45 and all hell broke loose. I encountered very heavy rains and some small hail, so I decided to head east and keep up with the storm. Larger hail stones were now pelting my car and making things very interesting. At 5:00pm, I stopped at 750N/1000E and shot a minute or two of hail video. As I rolled down the window, one hailstone bounced into the car and it appeared to be about an inch. (though I’m sure there were a few isolated stones a tad bigger than that)

    I headed back north on I-57 and jogged out into the country to take a few more shots of the storms. The cell that was moving away from Champaign county was quite impressive looking. I made my way back into town and arrived home at 6:15pm.

    Final Thoughts:
    After not planning on chasing today, it turned out to be quite exciting. The visibility was great and the rainbow/hail were pretty nifty! It’s nice to chase during the afternoon when there’s good lighting to work with. There appears to be more chances of severe weather this week, so we’ll see what happens!

    Click here to view/purchase photos from this chase.


    Total Mileage: 95 miles