The Weather Channel, by virtue of its name, has always been tasked with the difficult problem of making the weather interesting. As Mashable notes, they've turned to augmented reality for a solution and can now render a 3D storm in their studio, as well as help us understand how bad a storm might be with 3D forecasts.
According to their video above, they are very proud of what they've accomplished. Despite the boasting, however, they've managed to create a very vivid and useful educational tool that makes the old tornado-in-a-bottle look silly. Learning about a storm by seeing its elements in action in a controlled environment works well for both learning and entertainment.
Aside from just 3D augmented reality models of storms after they've already happened, or how to prepare for them, they can show predictions of how bad storms could become with their new 3D presentations effects: Surge FX, Shear Factor, and Tropical Replay.
These new capabilities are especially important, because understanding weather can actually help prepare people for the worst. We don't have tornados, hurricanes, floods, and other extreme conditions coming at us all that regularly. In fact, no major category 3 hurricane has hit the United States since 2005.
Being able to see and learn how hurricanes work could help people who've never experienced one. As someone who suffered through just a mild Florida hurricane unprepared, I can at least say for myself that I would've liked to have at least some education and preparation before it hit.
Whether or not it'll help the Weather Channel establish more of an audience in their struggle to remain relevant in such an leisure-centric culture remains to be seen. Regardless, it's refreshing to see a television network seek out ways to make science interesting and engaging rather than forego education in favor of simple entertainment.
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