The 12 Best Weather Apps for Your Smartphone

The weather guides much of our days and overall lives, whether we realize it or not. If we work outdoors or travel frequently, we must prepare our schedules around the weather-or at least take protection and precautions to make sure we do not get swept away or get sick or injured from its effects. The worst conditions can damage our homes and property, and due to climate change, extreme weather is becoming more frequent in many regions. The best way to protect oneself is to be prepared with information.

Previously, even a decade or two ago, we did not have access to nearly as much information as we used to (about the weather or anything else). We were able to get daily reports--sometimes we could get reports every few minutes--but that required access to a television or a connection that had to be both reliable and available. Now, when we need the weather report, we can grab it, under almost any condition. If we have a phone and the right apps, we can know what’s coming.

But which apps are the right apps? There are plenty of weather options out there, and not all are equal. So without further ado, here are 12 apps you should look at or download if you want the best weather information possible:

1. The Weather Channel

If you need a general report on the weather for the upcoming week, then you are going to want The Weather Channel app, which is to be expected. They are one of the biggest names in weather, if not the only recognizable name. There is a lot of information to be had with their app, living up to their name. All the information you would get from the actual channel or website is there, and you can get forecasts ranging from a few hours into the future all the way to weeks in advance. Whether you are planning a trip, or just your day, The Weather Channel is the standard weather app everyone wants.

Of special note: there is a great video selection that allows you to actually see the weather happening, instead of imagining it. The app is very easy and comfortable to use, and all the selections seem intuitive to anyone who has used apps before. Radar access is close and you can get into the details of the weather surrounding you and find out what is coming (the interactive maps are fantastic). Sure, it may not have some of the enthusiast features available with specialist apps, but that’s not what this is here for.

In general, we could recommend The Weather Channel to anyone, but especially to those just looking for a basic weather app. It’s something to help with your commute or planning trips to the park.

You can find The Weather Channel App on both iOS and Android. It is free and ad-supported, though there are in-app purchases.

2. Weather on the Way

While it might not be as well-known as The Weather Channel or Accuweather, Weather on the Way is one of the best apps on the market for people looking for more detailed information before making a long drive or trip. It is a half-navigation app and a half-weather app, making it so that you do not need to constantly switch back and forth (especially while driving). It brings more detailed weather knowledge to your phone than the standard GPS.

When working with the app, all you need to do is put in a destination, your time of departure, and your point of origin (alternatively, you can allow it to know where you are). It will then provide you with a route and a general outlook of the weather over the course of your journey. In that way, it not only serves as a weather guide but something that can help you determine your itinerary as well. While your driving is still up to you, of course, Weather on the Way can help keep you safe by helping you avoid hazardous conditions.

While Weather on the Way might not be necessary for everyone reading this, those who know they want this app should download it right away. People like truck drivers, or business travelers taking frequent trips will find it incredibly useful.

You can find Weather on the Go on iOS. It is free but has a pro subscription for $10 a year for some of its advanced features.

3. WeatherBug (Weather by Weatherbug)

A relatively well-known app in the weather category, we find WeatherBug to be a great choice for those who are looking for information on current weather conditions. Whether you are dealing with a potential storm or want to know if there will be anything coming in before you make a trip, it can help. Of course, it also provides forecasts going out to 10-days, current normal weather conditions, and maps you can use to see if there is anything on the way to your next destination.

Well-received by critics, WeatherBug is easy to use and provides a great deal of information to users, including things like air quality, potential fire risks, and fire data. If the information is available, it will even tell you how the weather might be affecting the roads around you. It’s not just precipitation; it is an app that considers your entire climate and outdoor (or indoor in some cases) experience.

WeatherBug is great for people looking for something to give real-time data. It is also great for people who travel internationally, as WeatherBug has one of the biggest collections of international data points as well. Wherever you are, you can rely on this app to provide accurate and timely warnings so you can prepare as you need to for any incoming storms.

You can find WeatherBug on both iOS and Android. It is a free app, though there are ads and in-app purchases.

4. AccuWeather

Another name you might have heard of already, AccuWeather is a well-known and much-loved weather app that hosts quite a few features. It is suitable for people across the country and is designed to warn and prepare you no matter what environment you live in. It is also one of the quickest and easiest apps to use. Just opening the app and looking at the screen will tell you almost everything you need to know for the day. It will even tell you to bring a jacket if you want it to.

Perhaps most interestingly compared to other apps, AccuWeather has MinuteCast, which will provide a by-the-minute forecast for the next two hours. It might not be perfectly accurate to some, but it will let you know exactly what you can plan and what you cannot, which is what many people are looking for from a weather app. On the other side of things, it can give you up to a 45-day outlook, though it should be noted that predictions can only be truly accurate only so far out.

If you are looking for more advanced features, then you might be happy to know that there are a lot of extra map layers, options you can toggle, and additional bits of data that can not only satisfy your curiosity, but help you make better weather-related decisions.

You can find AccuWeather on iOS and Android, and it is a free app. There are in-app purchases (such as $4 one-time ad removal) and forecast extension.

One last note is that AccuWeather has been noted to collect data on users in the past, so you may wish to be careful about the permissions you provide it.

5. NOAA Weather Radar Live: Clime (Clime)

One of the best resources possible for weather enthusiasts is the NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They are the government department that handles the weather, and they have the best of the best. If there is a weather problem, they are monitoring it. If there are no problems, they are still keeping track of the weather.

With this app, you get an excellent radar and up-to-date data on the weather. You will get an interactive map you can use, and have a simple display to show basic information, which might be exactly what you want. You might not trust the predictions or info of other apps, or you might desire more raw data for your own uses and conclusions. This app still provides severe weather alerts and regular forecasts, just like a regular weather app. However, the real draw is the satellite info.

This app is best for those who want something a little simpler and more stripped-down than most of the other apps on this list. In fact, many other apps simply source their information from NOAA. If you do not want all the crazy community features, etc., then you could do a lot worse than Clime.

You can find NOAA Weather Radar Live: Clime on both Android and iOS. It is a free app but does have a premium subscription that unlocks the best features.

6. Carrot Weather

Carrot Weather is a little different in that it adds some personality to your weather report. It uses Dark Sky (more on them later) to get reliable data about the weather on your phone, but Carrot Weather makes it entertaining to check the weather, in contrast to the “dry” tones of other apps. There will be fun, sarcastic, or even darker funny messages accompanying the weather, decrying the state of the universe, or hoping you don’t (or do) get hit by lightning if you go outside. There might also be art and other humorous takes to brighten up your day, or commiserate with you about the misery outside.

If you don’t want Carrot weather to get too dark or controversial with its humor, you can change the AI’s settings easily enough in a menu. It goes from a relatively simple “professional” tone to an outright sadistic and not safe for work “overkill”. You might want to adjust and try things out when no one is watching first, to see what you are comfortable with.

In terms of the weather side of things, it is as completely reliable as you’d expect from any good weather app. You can get a good range of forecasts and warnings if you need them. If you need a quality report, you can get it.

We recommend Carrot Weather to people who are just a little bored, have a dryer or darker sense of humor, and want something a little more from their weather app. If you need a little something to help you start your day, then Carrot Weather might be perfect.

Carrot Weather was exclusive to iOS for a long time, but more recently it has been added to Android (though user ratings are not nearly as high). It is a free app but has premium subscription options.

7. My Moon Phase

Getting weather information is more than just getting knowledge of the rain, snow, etc. It also is about the condition of the sky, and what it looks like out there. Many people want to know how the moon is doing, whether to schedule a viewing or to keep track of moon phases for other reasons.

The information it gives is complete when it comes to the moon and lunar cycle. With it, you can know the expected times for moonrise, moonset, the current moon cycle, and the best times for moon photography. You can either input a location or use your phone’s current location as the basis for the information you get.

While it might not immediately seem like the most important thing, My Moon Phase also has a great design, utilizing a darker design and blacks so that you can use it easily at night without giving off too much light from your phone. It was designed from top to bottom with both star and moon gazers in mind.

My Moon Phase is perfect for the astronomers and those who like to get out at night, helping new people and the experienced alike keep a good schedule to get the best viewings and spots. It’s not a standard weather app and won’t help you much in terms of knowing when to get an umbrella, but it makes a great complement to other apps and a great addition to your phone regardless.

You can find My Moon Phase on Android for $1.99 and iOS for free. There is a pro version of the app which is ad-free and has some extra functions.

8. Weather Underground

People crowdsource everything nowadays, so why not weather information? Weather Underground is an app in which people from across the country with amateur equipment (though many could hardly be called amateur) provide weather information, pictures, and even videos to the app. There are hundreds of thousands of stations providing data, and crowd reporting allows for confirmation of predictions and reports.

Recently the app was bought by Time Warner and some of the community aspects of the app were toned down or de-emphasized to some degree, but it is still more than we could find in any other viable app and there was still a lot to love in the community using the app. We cannot guarantee it will last forever, but this can’t be guaranteed for any app.

The Weather Underground might not be the best app for those looking for up-to-the-minute accurate information anywhere in the country, but it does provide for a new perspective of things for users, and makes the weather feel more real and human. That’s something that many weather-followers feel is missing in weather reporting.

You can find Weather Underground on both iOS and Android. The app is free, but there are in-app purchases.

9. Dark Sky

A recent great acquisition by Apple, Dark Sky is a popular weather app that provides incredibly accurate weather information, even going so far as to call itself the most accurate. While that is up for debate, we can say that Dark Sky is an excellent weather app, providing updates and information down to the minute. If you have a busy schedule and need precise information, Dark Sky is the app for you. Even other apps use Dark Sky as a basis for their reporting, which shows how trusted they are.

Dark Sky also has excellent maps, and many will praise the app primarily for them. Dark Sky uses some excellent technology for this, and it results in some of the best-looking radar and predictive images one can find on a smartphone. Predictive imaging is just as helpful, and you can know up to even an hour in advance if it is going to rain for certain. We have not heard many reports of them being wrong yet, and you can customize the amount of detail you get from Dark Sky.

As for other features, notifications are helpful and customizable, and there is a widget that can let you know what you need to at a glance. It all adds up to an extra layer of convenience that will save you time in the long run. It helps you keep your train of thought, which you do not want broken up for the sake of the weather.

Dark Sky will be best for people who want accurate reports, a good app to get them going each day, and those who prioritize quality maps above most other functionalities. It might not be for everyone, but it is worth a download and a few days of trying it out--if you don’t mind spending a few dollars.

Dark Sky is available for iOS for a one-time cost of $3.99. It was available for Android up until a short while ago, but has been pulled from Google Play since its acquisition by Apple.

10. Yahoo Weather

A simple app from a name you know and has been around a long time, Yahoo Weather makes a name for itself in the weather world through its app, which remains successful and well-supported by any account.

The app is visually appealing, integrating photos to make for a pleasant experience. The images try to match up with your present location, both to get you to look at home in a new way and, ideally, to give you an idea of what it looks like outside (even if it’s an idealized version). You may find the images so inspiring, you might even try to go out exploring yourself because of them.

In terms of features, there are not too many compared to the other apps listed here. It’s simple and is designed as such, giving you a basic forecast, some pretty pictures, and not too much else. There are advertisements to contend with, but they usually are not too intrusive, and the basic notifications will be able to get you through your day.

We recommend Yahoo Weather for those who want a simple, nice-looking app to use every day or every evening as they get ready. The forecasts are good, the extra functionality will be helpful to many, and it is easy to use.

You can find Yahoo Weather on iOS and Android for free.

11. FlowX

FlowX is a weather app that has superior visuals and can be the app for those who want graphs, relative long-term data, and plenty of different models to work with. One can spend hours exploring everything it has to offer, and those hours would be well-spent. Comparing models can not only teach you more about the weather, but how to use the models as well.

For those in the know, one can absolutely use the app to make accurate predictions and understand exactly why the weather is as it is (and why it will be). There is a lot to be said about the user interface, which many users say is intuitive.

We think FlowX is best for weather enthusiasts who want to explore as much information as possible on their phones. While there might be browsers and programs that provide a wider view of things, FlowX is available anywhere, which means it's always there when you need it. It makes a great companion in any situation because of this feature.

You can find FlowX on Android, though the developers are working on an iOS version. It is free to download, but has additional subscription options that can provide you with even more data.

12. Radarscope

Radarscope is one of the most accurate weather apps you can find, made for meteorologists and weather enthusiasts alike, and it has the price tag to match. While there certainly is a buy-in here compared to other apps, with Radarscope you will get some of the most detailed information possible. They source it from the radar data created by next-generation radar (NEXRAD) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR). Whatever else might be competing with Radarscope, they will not be able to get better information than that. The data you are getting is raw, so just take note of that if it looks different from what you are used to.

As far as the app itself is concerned, everything is easy and clear to understand, though it might not have some of the design benefits and features other apps have, and you might need to do a little bit of interpretation yourself. To this end, it might be best if you pair RadarScope with a more everyday app that you can check at a glance to know the temperature and if the sun will be shining in an hour.

It will provide warnings to you about potential severe storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe weather. It updates frequently via radars across the world (every two to ten minutes or so) and with an additional subscription will provide you with even more information. The subscriptions certainly can get pricey on top of the app price, to begin with, but many customers and other reviewers have said it is well worth it if precise information is what you’re after.

We recommend Radarscope for anyone who wants more detailed information about the weather, or anyone especially concerned about storms. If you are a budding storm chaser or just want to know when to close the windows, Radarscope is for you.

You can find RadarScope on both iOS and Android for $10. There may also be additional purchases in the app.

Conclusion

You probably don’t need all these apps. In fact, the notifications and data usage of keeping them all on your phone would overwhelm you. Unless your life is literally reliant on the winds and the shade of the sky, you only need one or two. But we hope that the list above showcases what technology today is capable of. We also hope that you can pick something listed above that’s worth using. Sure, there might be some default information on your phone, but don’t you want something better? If the answer is yes, install one of the above apps today.