You can never be too prepared, so it’s a good idea to use or download the best possible weather app on your phone if you want more details on, say, what to wear for the day outside, future forecasts, air quality indicators, radar images or severe weather alerts and warnings.
As climate change continues, weather may only be getting more difficult to predict. Here are six weather apps that meteorologists and other weather-dependent professionals swear by for accurate forecasts and information.
Anthony Torres, a meteorologist and the director of science at Currently, a weather service, mainly relies on data and meteorologist-specific weather prediction models to prepare accurate weather forecasts and reports.
However, in a pinch, he uses the National Weather Service’s Weather.gov.
“If I haven’t put together a forecast, I use Weather.gov because I know that whoever put that forecast together is a meteorologist,” Torres said. “I don’t necessarily trust any particular model or computer output because there are things that computers can’t tell the difference yet with, and so having a meteorologist put together the forecast is usually my first step if I don’t have the time to do it myself.”
Although it’s technically a mobile site, rather than an app, you can similarly add Weather.gov to your phone’s home screen. iPhone users should navigate to mobile.weather.gov on their phone’s web browser, then click the “send” button at the bottom of the screen to choose “add to home screen.” Instructions for Android users are similar.
Torres also likes RadarScope because it gives users access to satellite and radar so they can see where it’s cloudy or rainy or storming.
Though this app “tends to be a bit more on the technical side,” it’s helpful to meteorologists like Torres as it allows them to see exactly what the radar is seeing.
“I can do analysis on the data as soon as it comes in on my phone,” Torres said. “It’s really convenient.”
Gary Szatkowski, former meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service and current Philadelphia forecaster at Currently, also uses RadarScope when he’s in a hurry.
“If you’re really into radar data, particularly the Doppler part of it, which shows you the winds and stuff, not just rain or snow, but more details about what the atmosphere is doing, RadarScope is a good option.”
Carly Ruff, a day-of wedding coordinator based in Florida, prefers Apple’s Weather app on her iPhone.
A reliable weather app is especially important to Ruff, as she often coordinates both outdoor and indoor weddings, and she needs to know what weather to expect long before the event. As a day-of wedding coordinator, couples go to Ruff when they’ve planned almost their entire wedding and need help sorting things out over the last few months leading up to the big event.
“These weather apps are super important for me because I need to know if I need to get my couples a tent or not,” Ruff said, laughing.
She also noted the weather is usually “unpredictable” in Florida, so Ruff likes being able to rely on an app. “I’ve had a lot of instances where it says it’s going to rain all day and then it doesn’t, or it says it’s going to be a beautiful day, and then at the last minute it does rain,” Ruff said.
She said she appreciates Weather’s interface and the hourly view, as it lets her know exactly when she can expect rain or some other weather event. The app also marks the time of sunset each day, so she can let photographers know to take pictures around that time.
“Weather tells me exactly what’s happening when, which is super important for me because I need to know if we need to delay the ceremony at all,” Ruff said. “Or a few days before the wedding, if [the chance of rain] is looking like it’s over 70%, then I know that I should recommend the couple rent a tent or find a plan B.”
Ruff also likes using the app to check humidity levels so she can let makeup artists and hairstylists know beforehand, so they can figure out how to adjust.
“If it’s extremely high humidity, the curls aren’t going to hold as well, so I let the hair team know how much hair spray they’re going to need,” she said, laughing. “That’s a fun little trick.”
Ruff also likes AccuWeather as a second resource for radar purposes, so she can properly track any unexpected weather patterns.
“You just don’t know if it’s raining literally two miles away, but it doesn’t hit you on the beach.”
She primarily uses the app on the actual day of the wedding.
“If the ceremony is at 3 p.m., and I see dark clouds, I will pull up the app to see where that weather and rain are traveling,” Ruff said. “I need to see which direction it’s going in and if it’s getting closer to us, because then that ultimately means we need to either delay the ceremony or quickly find a plan B.”
Megan Montero, chief meteorologist at Currently, also heavily relies on meteorologist-specific data and models. However, she is fond of Windy, a professional weather app that provides weather radar and forecasts specifically for wind and water sports.
She likes that Windy is part model data and appreciates its clean way of presenting weather information.
“It just looks better, so it’s good to look at for a quick glance,” Montero said. “With traditional forecast data, I have to open up one model at a time, so Windy is great to use alongside those. It doesn’t really help me get or interpret forecast information, but just provides an easy way to look at all the model data at once.”
Montero said Windy is particularly good for non-scientists, as it has everything users would see in a normal weather app, but has feature add-ons to customize weather information viewing experiences. For example, users can look at the skycams in their area, wind maps, wind compasses, and wave forecasts as well.
Rukmini Kalamangalam, a community organizer for Atlanta’s chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, likes using the voice-y What The Forecast app. Whether she’s canvassing or organizing an event or drive, Kalamangalam frequently has to be outdoors for her job and likes knowing what to expect.
She said she appreciates What The Forecast because it has accurate weather and precipitation forecasts and weather alerts, as well as thousands of non-jargon-y phrases to describe the current conditions. It lets you know whether you need to bring an umbrella, spend some time in the sun, or if you should just go back to bed.
“The app tells you the weather by cussing at you, and I like it because I feel like most weather apps are really boring and stale, and I prefer for my weather news to be a little quirky,” Kalamangalam said.
She also appreciates how the app helps her prepare for the weather outside, rather than just inform her of it.
“If it’s, say, 30 degrees outside, the app will tell me to throw on a coat, or if it’s hot outside, it’ll tell me to get ready to sweat,” Kalamangalam said. “[Otherwise] sometimes I look at the weather, and I don’t really internalize it. Like if a forecast says it’s 56 degrees, I don’t really know what that means. Then I go outside and it’s cold or windy, and I’m unprepared. It’s nice to have a little reminder to do something about the weather.”