Obsessed with the weather? You’re not alone. According to the latest numbers, ‘weather’ is the sixth-most popular Google search query in the US and the only one in the top 10 that isn’t the name of something (like Facebook or YouTube).
The most amazing thing about this statistic is that it doesn’t even count people who get their forecasts from sources other than Google – like weather apps. You may have already tried some free weather apps but found they didn’t meet your expectations. Here we’ll give you our list of the 10 best apps for weather – including the best free weather apps and best weather apps that cost money.
The Weather Channel is the most-downloaded weather app – and with good reason. It’s free, it lays out everything you need in a forecast (including hourly, daily, and 10-day view), and it displays the latest weather news. It even has social sharing features where you can upload and view photos and videos. An annual $3.99 subscription removes the ads, but there are better paid weather apps. The Weather Channel is best used as originally intended: as a free weather app that does all the basics well.
It’s official: AccuWeather is the most accurate weather app. In a study of 25 million weather forecasts in more than 1,000 locations globally from January 2018 to June 2019, independent industry tracker ForecastWatch found that AccuWeather had the lowest absolute error rate, performing 7.6 percent better than its nearest rival. For the weather junkies, it offers a detailed minute-by-minute breakdown of the next two hours, alongside hourly, daily, and 15-day views.
WeatherBug is a solid mobile weather app, but it’s best used for getting instant alerts. Download the app for free and then go to the app settings to turn on notifications. There are severe weather alerts from WeatherBug, the National Weather Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are also Spark Lightning Alerts, special notifications when dangerous thunderstorms are approaching your area.
Ask a weather obsessive to name their favorite weather app, and the most likely answer will be Dark Sky. This app is loved by people all over the world for its detailed forecasts and advanced radar maps. Dark Sky has its own hyperlocal forecasting system backed by radar data from the NOAA. In fact, Dark Sky’s own forecasts are used by some of the other weather apps on this list. Dark Sky shut down its Android and Wear OS apps on August 1, 2020 (after it was bought by Apple), but the iOS app continues to be a favorite of iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch users.
If they were giving out titles for weather apps, FlowX would be ‘the people’s app’. Its interactive features include finger sweeping to control the forecast animation over time, as well as a choice of multiple data layers to display on the map. The great thing about FlowX is you don’t have to pay to get rid of ads. The only reason to pay is if you want access to additional features like 3-day ‘hindcast’ and customized graphs and maps.
RadarScope is the best weather radar app for people who really need (as opposed to want) accurate real-time weather alerts. An iOS/Android subscription gets you advanced radar interrogation, true radial NEXRAD data, Apple Watch/Android Weather integration, and 24/7 live support. RadarScope is used by bikers and hikers to get extreme weather alerts, and by roofing and trucking businesses to be notified about events that affect business operations.
ClimaCell is a weather-tech startup trying to disrupt the traditional players. Backed by more than $100 million in venture capital funding, it gathers weather data from millions of connected devices such as cell phones, connected vehicles, street cameras, airplanes, and drones. To give a basic example, if a connected vehicle turns on a windshield wiper, ClimaCell knows it’s raining. ClimaCell is focused mainly on expanding its business, but it has launched a useful consumer app which it claims can predict the weather accurately down to your precise location.
For people living in big cities, it’s not enough knowing about the weather; you also need to know about air quality. AIR by Plume Labs is the best app for real-time air pollution levels in your area and around the globe. It offers live maps, detailed data (live, historical, and forecast) and clean-air coaching. And best of all – it’s free!
The folks at CARROT Weather call their creation ‘the crazy-powerful weather app’, with emphasis on ‘crazy’. This app is for smartphone users who want their weather to be entertaining, not just informative. It includes fun games like secret treasure hunts on a world map. It even lets you customize CARROT’s personality to match yours.