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News from the Weekend Bass Series
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2012-04-04 10:02:37

New service gives ABA members real-time weather warnings

 Under clear skies, the anglers raced across the waters to fish a tournament-winning honey hole, but didn’t know that a severe thunderstorm brewing on the far end of the lake awaited them over their chosen fishing spot.

Consequently, as they approached their destination, strong winds whipped the lake into froth while lightning strikes danced around their boat. They headed back to the marina, but the storm overtook them, making their run back to the landing miserable.

Had those anglers subscribed to the new ABA Weather Call service, they would have avoided problems and planned to fish elsewhere. Weather Call delivers geographically specific notifications of official National Weather Service severe weather warnings to any type of phone or device capable of receiving text messages or e-mails 24 hours a day without limit. In partnership with American Bass Anglers, Weather Call provides two levels of service to sportsmen. One costs nothing for ABA members.

“I learned about ABA from Chris Jackson, a bass pro,” explained Brad Huffines, a meteorologist for Weather Call. “I wanted to get this service into the hands of fishermen and contacted ABA. I was amazed by how much exposure ABA members have to the weather every week when fishing multitudes of tournaments across the country. We want to put those NWS warnings into the hands of people who can actually use them. Our goal is to make sure that everyone has weather warning protection anywhere they go.”

With the free service, ABA members can identify up to three 25-square mile boxes of interest. They could indicate a favorite fishing cove on a major lake, a home marina or any other location in the 50 states or Puerto Rico. The member can change those desired locations at anytime. If the NWS issues a severe weather warning for any of the areas indicated, the member will receive a text notification on a cell phone.

“If the NWS issues a warning that impacts one of those squares, the subscriber will immediately receive a text message with the warning and a map,” Huffines said. “It can work with any text-message receiving phone. If the phone doesn’t have a data plan, the member won’t see the map, but can still read the text about the warning.”

Anglers may also sign up for the advanced ABA Weather Call To Go program. This program costs $17.95 a year and requires an iPhone or Android GPS smart phone. With this program, the phone uplinks directly to the Weather Call system to pinpoint the exact location of the device. Members can receive reports of lightning within six miles of that location, severe weather warnings within one mile of that location, flash flood information and other notifications. Graphics can track the direction of the storms or where lightning strikes occur. As long as the phone remains on, it automatically updates the geographic information, but that could quickly drain a battery.

“To save battery power, anglers can get to their spot, turn the app on their smart phones on until the service finds them and then turn it off,” Huffines advised. “Our computers will remember where they are. If an app is constantly updating, it will run down the battery quickly, but if someone is traveling and plugs in the phone, the app will follow that person down the road or lake updating constantly. I’ve actually had times where I was traveling on the interstate and it alerted me about a tornado in the area. I pulled off the highway for a while and took shelter as the storm passed.”

With the more advanced package, anglers can also find links to other information that could possibly help them catch more fish. For instance, they could click on links that provide current weather information including barometric pressure changes, winds and other data. Anglers can click on the forecast for that area or view real-time NWS radar data for a chosen area.

“I value the relationship we are building with the ABA and hope this product can help anglers make better decisions based upon better information to keep themselves and their families safe,” Huffines said. “Fishermen in a boat in the middle of a lake have virtually no protection from nature. It’s also a tool anglers can use while they are on the water to help them plan their fishing day better. In the anglers’ package for ABA members, we added the current conditions, barometric pressure, winds and other data. In the future, we’d like to add more warnings, not just of storms that reach the severe level according to NWS guidelines, but strong storms just below that level that can impact fishermen on the lake.”

For more information on this service, see www.ABAweather.com.

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