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Want to know when it'll rain: Precip Start Stop can do that

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, October 3, 2016, 9:00 - Spring is here and for many, that means hazardous travel conditions due to rain. Planning ahead just got a whole lot easier, thanks to the Precip Start Stop feature on The Weather Network's website.

"Precip Start Stop will tell you when precipitation is going to start and stop in the next three hours with a precision of 10 minutes," says Weather Network meteorologist Elena Lappo.

"It will also provide the type of precipitation (rain, snow, freezing rain or ice pellets) and intensity."

Precip Start Stop helps take the guesswork out of planning summer activities by helping users:

  • Avoid getting caught in a sudden storm
  • Prepare for the chance of spotty precipitation
  • Make informed decisions when planning outdoor activities

The feature empowers the user to plan ahead and carry through with outdoor activities that may have otherwise been cancelled due to the threat of rain.


Precip Start Stop is made possible by a tool called Future Radar, technology that uses an algorithm to visualize where precipitation is expected to occur, based on its past movements.

It extracts information for a particular location and presents it in a table and graph format, updating every 10 minutes.


Precip Start Stop is fully derived from a radar, along with some automated processing. According to Lappo, there are certain advantages to this type of approach.

"For one, it allows the feature be updated frequently and will prove to be most useful in the immediate future," she says.

"Second, this approach provides much more granular information in comparison to the traditional forecasts, making it most valuable on the day with on-and-off precipitation." 

Still, there are some limitations to this method of deriving precipitation forecasts.

Unfortunately, Precip Start Stop will not know if a storm is expected to grow or dissipate, or change in direction. This might affect the accuracy of the product during thunderstorms, snowsqualls, very light precipitation and precipitation in mountainous areas.

Precip Start Stop might also differ from The Weather Network's Hourly Forecasts since these two features derive their forecasts from two different sources.


Precip Start Stop can be accessed through the 7-Day Forecast city pages. It's available to every American citizen that lives in an area with radar coverage.

The feature is also available in Canada, the U.K. and Ireland.

Precipitation start and stop times are also available on our Apple Watch app.


The project is a joint effort involving a number of teams from meteorology, product management, development, IT, design, marketing and more.

"It took over a year to develop this feature," Lappo says.

"Our work didn’t stop after the launch of Precip Start Stop though. We are constantly working on improving and enhancing this product in order to make it as reliable as possible as well as expanding it to our international markets." 

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