Weather apps: Six more weeks of winter?

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil the groundhog uses his shadow to predict the weather. For the rest of us, desktop weather apps for Windows will do just fine.

Even if you're not one to trust a groundhog's shadow as your weather vane, watching a pet rodent emerge from a hole before hundreds of onlookers is a fascinating North American ritual. The rest of us may not have the prognosticating meteorological savvy of a Punxsutawney Phil, Buckeye Chuck, or Shubenacadie Sam, but on February 2, we can have the next best thing--weather widgets and applications.

Here are some of our favorite ways to read the mercury on our Windows PCs.

Weather Watcher Live
A full, but well-ordered display, detailed forecast, animated map, and severe weather alerts are just a few reasons to download this free, longtime favorite. Hour-by-hour forecasts, wind, rain, and dew point particulars, plus a ticker of weather-related news stories, are a handful more.

Weather Watcher Live

Yahoo Widgets Engine
Small, light on resources, slickly designed, and persistent, Yahoo's attractive, free weather widget gives you a basic reading of current conditions at a glance. Another click brings you a multiday forecast for any city of your choice, and a swelling gallery of user-generated widgets gives you greater weather widget alternatives online.

Yahoo Weather Widget for Windows

Google Desktop
What's true for Yahoo Widgets hold for Google's version of its desktop software, which throws a search bar in with its free desktop enhancer. Google supplies its own weather widget, with several user-submitted widgets, such as a weather globe.

Google weather widget on Vista

Weather Depot
For U.S. residents, the free version of Weather Depot provides plenty of maps and current temperatures for five saved locations. An hour-by-hour planner and 7-day planner round out the tools. The premium version gives you a 14-day look ahead and detailed conditions for everything ranging from soil temperature to severe weather forecasts.

Weather Depot on Windows

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.