Home / Mobile / The five best weather apps for the iPhone or iPad to help you plan your day

The five best weather apps for the iPhone or iPad to help you plan your day

Your local meteorologist might seem like the best person to tell you what the weather’s going to be like, but what happens when you’re on the road or away from home, or can’t get to the TV? That’s where weather apps come in. Mobile apps are a great way to get the latest forecast any time you need it.

Don’t just head to the App Store and start downloading, though. While just about all of the apps you can find will be able to tell you what the weather is like and what the forecast is, only a select few do it in a way that we think is particularly useful.

The list below examines some of the best on the platform, many should be the next apps installed on your iPhone. We’ll also tell you why we think they’re special and rise above the rest. Without further ado, here’s our list of best weather apps for the iPhone.

Dark Sky ($4)


Why we picked it: The visualizations.

Dark Sky gets our top pick for the best weather app out there. It’s not free like most of our other picks, but if you’re serious about tracking the weather, it doesn’t get much better than this. Where Dark Sky shines is in its visualizations and minute-by-minute predictions.

You’ll be able to get minute-by-minute forecasts up to an hour in advance, and by hourly increments for the next seven days. The app’s simple interface shows you the weather conditions and expected temperatures, and it will even send you notifications before it starts raining or snowing, so you’re not caught by surprise. There’s also an Apple Watch app that provides the basics, meaning you can keep your phone stowed on the go.

What we really like about Dark Sky, however, is the visualizations. They’re smooth and elegant, which is something you don’t find in most weather apps. Few weather apps approach maps quite like Dark Sky, which is why it’s in a class of its own. It’s even better without ads, and the one-time fee is far more attractive than the subscription-based model used by other apps.

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RadarScope ($10)


Why we picked it: The radar and lightning data.

Our next app doesn’t tell you the temperature, nor is it going to provide you with a forecast. In fact, RadarScope is pretty one-dimensional — it shows you the radar and that’s it. Nonetheless, it excels when it comes to its one and only function.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a storm chaser, or simply somebody that appreciates up-to-the-minute weather info, this is the app for you. Radars refresh every six minutes, and storm warnings are placed on top of the radar images for added convenience. You’ll also have access to other radar products, such as velocity, precipitation estimates, and nearly a dozen other metrics, none of which are available through your standard weather app.

While it’s an additional expense, we recommend subscribing to at least RadarScope Pro Tier 1. Doing so nets you lightning and dual-pane radar data, and the ability to loop up to 20 frames, giving you quick access to two hours of data. It’s $10 a year, but this app is a must-have for those most affected by storms and rain.

There’s also a new Pro Tier 2, which is either $15 a month or $100 a year. We recommend the annual subscription, as it’s a 45 percent saving. This is targeted toward the weather weenie. You’ll get access to a 30-day archive of all available radar data from any radar site, as well as the ability to look up estimates for hail size and rotation (azimuthal shear) contours. It’s geeky stuff, but it’s not a bad deal if you’re really looking for that kind of data.

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Why we picked it: The comprehensive weather data.

AccuWeather gets high marks from us not only for its simplicity but also for its comprehensiveness. While Dark Sky is no-frills, just about any kind of weather information you’d need is at your fingertips with AccuWeather. Minute-by-minute forecasts are available for up to two hours in advance, which is better than Dark Sky, but you’ll only be able to get hourly conditions up to 72 hours in advance, as opposed to seven days with Dark Sky.

Other features set it apart, though. You’ll be able to look up information regarding both sunrise and sunset, in addition to allergies, as well as news and video pertaining to the current weather cycle. You can also send in your own weather reports and videos if you feel like making a contribution. AccuWeather may even feature your videos in its news reports.

Overall, we’ve found AccuWeather’s MinuteCast to be nearly as good as Dark Sky, though, it does lack the latter’s notification features, at least for non-severe weather events.

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The Weather Channel


Why we picked it: The well-rounded integration with The Weather Channel.

How could The Weather Channel’s app not make our list? It’s free, comprehensive, and has just about everything you need to keep an eye on the sky. The app will automatically change based on your current location and provides the current weather and hourly weather up to two days in advance. It can also handle forecasts up to 15 days in advance.

In addition, you can set the app to automatically notify you of severe weather. You can also use the app to tap into exclusive web content and video recorded directly from the Weather Channel’s TV broadcasts. And if you’re up early enough — that is, before 11 a.m. — you can check out “The Lift,” a six-minute weather show that details the day’s weather nationwide.

Those who suffer from allergies will find the app useful, too, as will outdoor enthusiasts. The app will tell you whether the weather is right for a variety of outdoor activities, which change based on the season. The app’s mapping software also updates quickly, and though the lightning data isn’t as detailed as it is in RadarScope Pro, it is available. We’re big fans of the alerts after close-by lightning strikes, but, to be frank, we generally heard the thunder before the app warned us.

You can even eliminate ads for one year for $4.

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Weather Underground


Why we picked it: The hyperlocal weather forecasts.

If you’re a fan of hyperlocal data, then The Weather Underground is for you. The service — now officially owned by The Weather Channel — is the web’s largest repository of online personal weather stations, meaning it’s never tough to grab a local weather report.

The Weather Underground’s app is also pretty data-heavy, despite its primary focus on local weather stations. You can find data — both current and historical, presented in text and graphical form — on temperature, wind speed, daily rainfall, pollutants, and the current UV index. Forecasts are provided only 10 days in advance, but, again, the app’s main focus is on the data.

We’re also fans of the app’s webcam section, which gives you a visual look at what’s going on, and “Wunderphotos,” a crowdsourced photo feature. If you snap a photo yourself, it might even be featured in the app for others to see!

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If you’re on Android, these are our picks for the best weather apps, and if you decide to go out in bad weather, you can pick one of these windproof umbrellas to help you out.

Update: We’ve gone through all the apps to check for accuracy and added some useful links.

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