What is the best weather app for your smartphone?
A good weather app is essential for anyone who likes to plan ahead—from choosing an outfit for work to booking your upcoming vacation. Even a quick trip to the store can be impacted by the weather. (Lugging grocery bags around is certainly a much bigger task during a heat wave or thunderstorm than on a nice, cool afternoon.)
Whether in an app or on the news, weather forecasts are made with computer modeling programs that use past and present atmospheric data to predict future weather. Five-day forecasts are accurate about 90% of the time. That number drops to 80% for seven-day forecasts and 50% for forecasts that look ten days or longer into the future.
The best weather apps can be counted on for reliable temperature and precipitation forecasts, but they also go a step further. With options for advanced features like Doppler radar, air quality data, allergen tracking, and even a little humor, there’s a weather app out there for just about everyone.
What should you look for in a weather app?
Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose which features you find most useful in a weather app. Most offer hourly, daily, and weekly temperature and precipitation forecasts. Many also include humidity, wind speed and direction, severe weather alerts, and UV index. More advanced features—interactive radar, seasonal allergen tracking, air quality, and more—may only be found in specific weather apps.
A weather app’s most important features are the ones that give you the data you need for your daily life. If you walk or bike to work, you may opt for one that includes rain alerts and humidity data to help you plan your commute. If you’re a weather fanatic, you’ll probably want an app with detailed satellite and radar maps to help you track weather patterns as they move across the country. Your weather app should answer (or help answer, at least) all your weather-related questions on a given day.
An app’s design and privacy settings are almost as important as its features. Some apps are more intuitive and user-friendly than others. If you see yourself checking your weather app every day, you’ll want to take the time to find one you actually enjoy using. And each app has its own policy about how much of your personal data they gather, who they share it with, and whether you can opt out of data collection.
12 of the best weather apps
There are so many weather apps out there, including the Android and Apple weather apps, which may have some surprisingly advanced features. Most weather apps provide similar data about current conditions—temperature, humidity, wind, and visibility, to name a few. So, the best app for you depends on your preference for user experience. Here, we break down what you can expect from 12 of the top free and paid weather apps for Apple and Android devices.
AccuWeather: Weather Alerts
Accuweather is another popular free, ad-supported weather app. Its home screen shows you a snapshot of the current weather conditions in your area, including a sneak peek at what’s in store for tomorrow. Depending on the forecast, it may even offer helpful reminders to pack an umbrella or jacket. In addition to the usual weather information, AccuWeather tracks allergy levels, rain and snow probability, and air quality. The app also includes a live radar map and a news tab with short videos on upcoming weather events.
Accuweather is free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play, but you can pay in-app to remove ads and unlock extra features.
Weather Underground: Local Map
Weather Underground is free to download, but you can pay monthly or yearly in-app to remove ads and unlock additional features.
Weather - The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel might have the most name recognition of any weather app, and it’s for a good reason. The free, ad-supported app offers the same easy-to-understand weather forecasts that you’d expect from their television broadcasts. Available for both Apple and Android users, the Weather Channel app hosts a long list of additional features in addition to local hourly, daily, and weekly forecasts. Notable features include “feels like” temperatures, real-time rain and severe weather alerts, 15-day forecasts, interactive Doppler radar maps, and allergy and flu forecasts.
The Weather Channel app is free to download, but you can purchase monthly or yearly subscriptions in-app to remove ads and unlock extra features.
CARROT Weather: Alerts & Radar
If you prefer your weather forecasts with a side of personality and snark, check out CARROT Weather. Each time you open the app, your homepage will show real-time weather data and a quick message, such as "Make the most of this nice weather that I generated for you. Or else." You can go into the settings to adjust the AI’s sense of humor—how mean it’s allowed to get with its jokes—and whether it’s allowed to reference political topics. What the app lacks in advanced weather information (like interactive radar and allergen tracking), it makes up for in character and entertainment. Forecasts don’t have to be boring to be accurate.
CARROT Weather is free to download, but you can pay in-app to remove ads and unlock extra features.
RadarScope was made for those of you who enjoy digging a little deeper into meteorology. The app has advanced radar data (NEXRAD Level 3 and Super-Resolution) with detailed tracking information for special weather events, such as tornadoes, floods, severe thunderstorms, and special marine warnings. If you consider yourself an amateur storm tracker, you can upgrade to Pro Tier 1 to access real-time lightning data, extended radar loops, and special tools to help you interpret the radar imagery and track weather patterns.
RadarScope is $9.99 in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In-app purchases are available to unlock additional features.
Clime: NOAA Weather Radar Live
This app, created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, offers real-time interactive radar and satellite, so you can track local weather fluctuations (including precipitation and temperature) throughout the day. Since it’s free to download, it may be a good option for weather-tracking enthusiasts who aren’t ready to spend money on paid apps like RadarScope. Plus, NOAA weather data is what many other apps use to make their forecasts, so you’d be getting the information straight from the source. Users with iOS devices can also add the Clime widget to their lock screen for easy access to current weather information.
Clime is free to download, but you can pay in-app to remove ads and unlock more features.
WeatherBug - Weather Forecast
WeatherBug is a great app for tracking local storm activity. Its lightning-detection feature can alert you to nearby lightning strikes long before you see your first drop of rain. The app also includes data from regional weather services, Doppler radar for North America, a hurricane tracker, wildfire and pollen count data, air quality information, and featured videos about weather events.
WeatherBug is free to download, but you can pay in-app to remove ads and unlock extra features. Another version of the app, WeatherBug Elite, includes an expanded list of features for a one-time fee of $49.99.
This one may seem a little random, but Yahoo Weather leads the game in next-level aesthetics. The app’s homepage features striking images related to your location and the day’s weather forecast, and the interface is streamlined and easy to use. Interactive radar, detailed forecasts, and satellite maps are all displayed against beautiful backdrops crowdsourced from Flickr. It may have a less extensive feature list than other weather apps, but the gorgeous, user-friendly design may be worth it.
Available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, the Yahoo Weather app is free to download with an option to pay in-app to remove ads.
1Weather: Forecast and Radar
1Weather includes widget options that allow both Android and iOS users to display daily data on their device’s home screen. Sure, the app has all the typical features you’ll find in any weather app—daily, hourly, and 10-day forecasts, severe weather warnings, live precipitation and radar maps, sun and moon position tracking, and more. Its real claim to fame, however, is that it allows you to display many of these unique weather data sets as widgets on your home screen.
1Weather is free to download, but you can pay in-app to remove ads and access additional features.
Flowx: Weather Map Forecast
Often praised as one of the best weather apps for Android, Flowx looks to be working on an upcoming Apple App Store release. Formerly known as Weatherbomb, this app is a hub of maps and charts with a variety of data overlays, including wind direction arrows, precipitation, and cloud cover. While there’s no date yet for when Apple users can start downloading the app, there’s an option to pre-register on the Flowx website to receive information and updates.
The Flowx app is free in the Google Play store with the option to pay in-app to remove ads and unlock more features.
MyRadar Weather Radar
The MyRadar app is built around its high-definition radar capabilities. It allows you to track rain, temperatures, and wind to determine upcoming local weather conditions. One of the unique features of MyRadar is advance rain alerts so you know when you can expect rain and plan to grab an umbrella or wrap up your outdoor activities. There’s also aviation data, hurricane alerts, and video content to explore within the app.
MyRadar Weather Radar is free to download, but you can pay in-app to access extra features.
If you’re a weather aficionado that likes watching the local Dopper radar like it’s your favorite TV show, Windy was made for you. The app displays detailed, dynamic maps that let you visualize the weather patterns as they develop around you. Despite the app’s name, its satellite and Doppler maps show more than just wind patterns. (Although watching wind patterns in real time can be oddly soothing.) There are over 40 data display options, including humidity, rain, temperature, air quality, UV index, and more.
The Windy.com app is free in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, but you have the option to purchase an in-app subscription to remove ads and unlock more frequent forecast updates.
Choosing the perfect weather app
There’s a seemingly endless list of weather apps available for download, but there’s a reason these 12 are some of the most popular ones in the app store today. Since most are free, you can try out as many as you like until you find your favorite. Whether you prioritize reliability, extra features, aesthetics, or even humor, there’s a weather app out there for you.