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The 4 Best Weather Apps with the Most Accurate Forecast for Your Location

The best weather apps can help with everything from forecasts and weather alerts to traffic and health-related updates.

Apps in this Guide

There are plenty of weather apps to choose from, but your best weather apps for Android and iOS offer accurate forecasts by region, current conditions for your location, useful radar maps, and the abilitymore

There are plenty of weather apps to choose from, but your best weather apps for Android and iOS offer accurate forecasts by region, current conditions for your location, useful radar maps, and the ability to set weather alerts for anything from government-issued warnings to expected rainfall in your area.

The top weather apps start with data provided by NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and then refine their forecasts with their own research, such as from IBM's machine learning tools for the Weather Channel app or 250,000 neighborhood weather stations for the Weather Underground app. Nearly all have a free version supported by ads. For two or three bucks, you can get an ad-free experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do weather apps create their forecasts?
Most U.S.-based weather apps start building their forecasts with data generated by NOAA’s National Weather Service (https://www.weather.gov/) and then customize it with their own proprietary data. The Weather Channel app, for example, begins with the National Weather Service and then builds out its forecast using its own observations and forecasting models (https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/49954.wss). Weather Underground also pulls from the National Weather Service and then assembles its own forecasts with live observations from more than 250,000 personal weather stations across the country.
How accurate are forecasts?
Forecasting is not easy. Nate Silver, founder of the FiveThirtyEight website, wrote a detailed article, a few years ago, on just how tough predicting the weather can be (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/09/magazine/the-weatherman-is-not-a-moron.html). And different regions of the country are easier to forecast for than others. California, for example, is easier than the upper plains states to forecast, because of its more predictable weather patterns. To further complicate matters, some weather services skew their forecasts in the hopes of improving their usefulness, using a practice called wet bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_bias). Nationally, Weather Channel and Weather Underground have the most accurate weather apps for predictions, according to ForecastAdvisor, a website that calculates which weather services provide the most accurate weather forecasts (https://www.forecastwatch.com/static/Three_Region_Overview_2010_201606.pdf). But forecast quality varies by region. To see how accurate weather apps are for your location, search for your area on ForecastAdvisor (https://www.forecastadvisor.com/).
Can I add weather to my phone screen?
On the Android side, it’s easy to add the widget from one of our picks. After you’ve installed the weather app, press and hold on your home screen, and then tap the Widgets icon on the bottom of the screen. Scroll through the list of available widgets to find the ones associated with your weather app. You can also add the Google weather app widget. For iPhone, swipe right from your home screen, scroll to the bottom of the page, and tap Edit. Again, scroll through the list of available widgets to find and add your weather widget.
Can I use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for weather forecasts?
The voice assistants for Google Home and Amazon’s Echo and Dot provide weather information; all you need to do is ask. The Alexa digital assistant uses AccuWeather for forecasts. You can ask Alexa “What’s the weather?” to learn current conditions. Or learn about a specific day -- “What’s the weather for this weekend?” -- or another city: “What’s the weather in Louisville?” The Google Assistant usually pulls its weather information from the Weather Channel’s Weather.com. You can ask the Google Assistant “What’s the weather?” or inquire about a forecast for a specific day or the weekend. And you can ask for a forecast for a different location.

Best Weather Apps for Any Occasion

The best full-service weather apps cover everything from weather alerts to traffic reports.

Weather - The Weather Channel

Weather - The Weather Channel

The Weather Channel app mirrors much of what you'd find on the broadcast version of the service: It's packed with current conditions, forecasts, radar maps, road and traffic conditions, activity reports, and videos. You can set alerts for significant weather forecasts, area precipitation, government-issued warnings, and more. A free version is supported by ads. Go ad-free for $3.99.

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AccuWeather

AccuWeather

AccuWeather takes a similar path to the Weather Channel app, offering lots of practical guidance on what to expect for the day. On the main screen, you get current conditions, what's coming over the next few days, short-term forecasts for your location, and customizable radar maps. You can set severe weather alerts and set an alert location. The free version contains ads, but you can remove them for $2.99.

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Best Weather App for Local Forecasts

Because you want to know what the weather will be at your location.

Weather Underground

Weather Underground

Checking in on national or regional weather is fine and all. But if you want to know what the weather will be for your neighborhood, then you want the Weather Underground app. It combines the strength of the National Weather Service with the power of real-time local reporting from more than 250,000 personal weather stations to bring accurate local observations and forecasts. The visually appealing app presents current conditions, hourly and daily forecasts, and other weather- and health-related details. And you can set severe weather alerts based on your location. An ad-supported version is free; a $1.99 annual subscription removes the ads.

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Best Weather App for Short-Term Local Forecasts

When you want to know the weather right here, right now.

Dark Sky - Hyperlocal Weather

Dark Sky - Hyperlocal Weather

It's not just because it gives you forecasts down to the minute for your exact location. Or that you can see hourly and weekly forecasts. Or that you can set alerts for government-issued warnings and expected precipitation in your location or customized notifications based on temperature, precipitation, snowfall, wind speed, UV index, or humidity changes. No, Dark Sky is our favorite weather app because its radar, forecast, and temperature maps are insanely satisfying to use. An annual subscription is $3.99.

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