The Best Weather Apps for 2016

With a large portion of our businesses being directly impacted by weather we all tend to keep a close eye. With todays “tech” race in full-swing it seems like a new weather app is coming online everyday. For me it’s become almost impossible to keep up with all the latest bells and whistles or to narrow down my choice to just one app. The experts say we need to have some criteria in place to make the right section. First and foremost “current conditions” have to be accessible at a glance. They also have to offer an easy to read “five-day forecast,” along with some kind of detailed information such as radar, precipitation and wind speeds. Above all, they had to be accurate! Below are a few of the Top Picks…

Accuweather Platinum: Obviously picking the winner was difficult, and I know people may disagree, but I think Accuweather has a great product here. There’s a ton of information crammed into the app’s interface, but none of it gets in the way of the current temperatures and conditions, clearly displayed against an animated representation of what’s going on outside your window. For you farmers out there, this app has what’s called MinuteCast, which is accessible on the main screen and offers a very intense look at the next two hours. It literally tells you the exact moment it’s going to rain on you. (Available on both iOS [$3.99] and Android[$2.99])

Dark Sky: This app is completely built around answering the question: When exactly is it going to rain? It’s one of the only apps out there that operates this way. I also find that I spend more time with this app than others, even after it gives me the pertinent information I seek. Instead of a map, Dark Sky lets you literally scan the globe by swiping and pinching to find the most intense weather spots. Always visible by way of a transparent layer just beneath the screen, it puts a whole new spin on weather apps by turning the radar into the forecast; a 12 day span that lets you follow storms and watch as they develop and dissipate. (Available only on iOS[$3.99])

Seasonality Go: If you are a person who likes to go deeper than weather forecasts Seasonality Go is chock full of more charts and data than one could ever possibly need. With this app you get the normal current conditions along with a myriad of other data points including air pressure, dew point, and astronomical charts. You also find graphs for a wide array of information, including wind speed, snowfall, cloud cover and wave height, as well as a powerful radar map with live satellite overlays. If you want to go in depth, you should definitely check this one out.

Arcus Weather: This app is available only on Android platforms and takes data from Forecast.io, the weather service built by the Dark Sky team. Essentially, it’s the Android equivalent to the iOS’s Dark Sky weather app, however this one is free! (Available only on Android [Free])

Weather Underground: This is another app made for the budding meteorologists out there as it has a remarkable and exhaustive system of weather measurements. There’s so much info it can almost be overwhelming, but you can customize the interface so you can see just what you are specifically wanting. Utilizing more than 40,000 weather stations around the world, Weather Underground gives the most localized and comprehensive forecast around. (Available on both iOS and Android, [Free, $2 year subscription to remove ads])

CARROT Weather: If you prefer weather with a side of snark and dab of humor, then you will like this app. Carrot prides itself on accurate weather delivered with equal amounts of personality. The best example is how Carrot refers to human users as “meatbags.” Carrot also includes more than 30 secret locations like the Moon and other fictional places. Of course, all the joking would get old if it weren’t for the accurate weather data, which includes 24 hour and seven day forecasts form Forecast.io. (Available on iOS only [$3.99])

 

ADM Struggles With Strong Dollar, Ethanol Margins

ADM announced fourth-quarter earnings of 61 cents per share, down -39% from last year. Revenues fell -27% year-on-year to $16.45 billion. Profits in the company’s corn processing business were down -$16.45 billion, equated to a sharp fall-off in biofuel prices that were driven lower by falling crude oil prices. The company added that a confluence of an overabundance of corn, soybeans and wheat worldwide and strength of the U.S. dollar exerted pressure across nearly all of ADM’s businesses in the final quarter of the year. CFO Ray Young said he doesn’t expect things will turn around in 2016 but stressed that the pressures aren’t viewed as permanent – “At some juncture, the US dollar will correct itself,” though the timing on that is “to be determined.”

Debt, Debt, and More Debt Sounding Global Alarms

Debt, Debt and more Debt is becoming more the macro theme and starting to sound global alarms. Large investors seem less and less interested in seeing data about “job growth” and appear overly tired of of hearing dovish commentary from the central banks. Headlines about an improving economy are all of a sudden being reduced to nothing more than background noise. Smart money is becoming increasingly moremoney-bomb-27944908_1 concerned about debt in the energy space, debt amongst global bankers, global consumer debt, credit defaults, etc… Keep in mind, not only are we seeing several fires burning in regard to China and Crude Oil, but we are also seeing a massive meltdown inside the European banking sector. The fact is there are a large number of banks in Europe who are insolvent at worst and or undercapitalized at best. Remember, the ECB has forced interest rates into negative territory and the way banks in Europe have traditional made money has been turned upside-down. Example: Deutsche Bank (the 12th largest in the world) is now trading at about 1/10th the value it was in 2007. In other words it was trading at just over $160 per share and is now down to around $16 dollars per share. This just shows you how little exposure large investors want in non-U.S. markets. The outside macro fear is real! Financial conditions around the world have defiantly tightened. In fact we are staring to see more significant signs of things pulling back further here in the U.S.. Yesterday’s dismal ISM Manufacturing data confirmed these thoughts as it showed a -4.6 point drop in the Prices Index to 46.4, making this the third time prices have decreased in the past five months. This now becomes just another area that’s pointing toward a more “deflationary” trend. The ISM Manufacturing index showed prices were unchanged in January, but remained in deep contractionary territory at just 33.5. Prices there have been in negative territory now for 15 consecutive months, the longest negative streak since 1998-1999. In simple terms, this is not being viewed as a great time to invest in building a new factory or to be hiring more employees. I’ve seen a lot of  reports circulating as of late where analyst believe the breadth of weakness in oil and other commodities will start to lead to contagion and bankruptcies in several associated industries.  Given the current supply overhang in the marketplace, including the additional glut of crude oil, it’s tough to think the energy sector is going to turn around anytime soon. Longer-term, yes I believe there’s definitely upside potential, but nearby it feels like more pain to the downside for crude.

Cattle Industry Looks To “Online Auction” ​To ​Curb Futures Volatility

The cattle industry has been upset by what they feel is unnecessary volatility in the CME Group’s live cattle futures market, something they blame on several different factors including high frequency traders and the demise of the cash market. Last Friday, Terry Duffy, Chairman of the CME Group, met with cattlemen to discuss the issues. One problem that industry experts have identified is the shrinking cash market, which many feel is partly to blame for the extreme volatility the last part of 2015. Because producers have increasingly been locking in prices months in advance, cash sales have greatly been reduced, leaving futures markets one less cue to gauge where contracts should be trading. Duffy says the loss of the cash benchmark is something the futures market cannot address. In order to mitigate the declining cash trade and improve price transparency, the idea for an online auction has emerged. A trial run of this online auction was conducted earlier in January, organized by Arcadia Asset Management and with the participation of the four major meat packers – JBS, Cargill Inc, Tyson Foods Inc and National Beef Packing Company. The auction should allow for improved pricing models as it would allow for more participants from an expanded geographical area. Arcadia says they are aiming to host an official live auction within 60 days. Meanwhile, the CME is implementing some changes in an effort to curb volatility. One change that went into effect Monday, February 1st, was to add live cattle futures to an existing CME system that puts a cap on how many order updates traders can send in relation to the number of trades they actually execute. The exchange is also examining five-to-six second trading delays designed to act as circuit-breakers. At last week’s presentation, Duffy also expressed his opinion that the trading hours for Cattle Futures are too long and the CME will look at shortening trading sessions. As for high-frequency traders, Duffy denies that they are to blame for the erratic price swings saying HFT only accounts for about 10% of cattle futures trading. From my perspective, technology is rapidly changing our world and has become much more disruptive in all of our industries. In the wake of this technological boom, the CME is going to have an extremely tough time trying to keep everyone happy, but they seem to be taking all of the necessary steps and understand exactly what is needed to provide the best in risk-management tools. I have confidence in the fact they will get it all ironed out. We just have to remember how large the “technology” wave is that is hitting our shores and disrupting how we have traditionally conducted business. (Source: Reuters, OK Farm Report)

Are We Headed Toward A Deep Dark Deflationary Spiral?

Investors continue to keep a close eye on crude oil, central bankers and Chinese uncertainty. Crude oil is down another -4% overnight and Goldman Sachs see’s the market eventually finding comfort  somewhere between $20 and $40 per barrel. As for China, the fear remains the same… “What if the dollar continues to appreciate and the Chinese currency continues to devalue?” There are now many extremely smart investors betting we could fall into deep dark global deflationary spiral. Most of the hedge fund experts sight simply too much global debt overhanging in the marketplace to make it through another massive wave of deflationary pressure. Remember, investing guru Kyle Bass, of Hayman Capital Management, at the Skybridge Alternatives Conference last May told listeners that he thought the Chinese yuan could fall by as much as -40% over the next three years. The fear I continue to hear is that there is a “smoking gun” inside the highly suspect Chinese banking system. And the fact they are drowning in a wave of credit-defaults. As Warren Buffett once said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” You can read more about the growing number of hedge funds starting to bet against the Chinese currency HERE.

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