It’s always a good idea to check the weather before heading out of the door. There’s nothing worse than putting on something nice, only to have it rain later and potentially damage your gear — or get so hot that you sweat right through it.
Mobile weather apps provide easy access to forecasts whenever you need them. Many apps tell you the high temperature for the day, and they give you an hour-by-hour breakdown of temperatures, precipitation levels, air quality and more to keep you informed and safe. These apps can be helpful, but many also collect and distribute your data, which could pose a danger to your privacy. That’s why it’s important to understand their privacy policies, too.
If you use an iPhone or Android, your device already comes with a built-in weather app, but if you’re not happy with those apps, or they aren’t working properly, there are other apps to try.
Calling The Weather Channel app a weather app feels like a disservice. You can watch videos of news stories from The Weather Channel in the app. Most of the stories are related to the weather, the environment and wildlife, but you’ll also see health- and lifestyle-related stories.
The app gives you standard weather information, like hourly temperatures, rain chances throughout the day, a live weather radar and any severe weather alerts in your area.
The downside? The free version of the app has a lot of ads, and they can be distracting. I ran into four ads when scrolling down the main page of the app, and then I ran into a whole sponsored content section near the bottom of the page. You won’t run into these ads if you subscribe to the paid version of the app.
You can download The Weather Channel app for free in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store. You can subscribe to the ad-free version of the app for $2 a month ($10 a year if paid upfront) or you can subscribe to the Premium Pro version of the app for $5 a month ($30 a year).
AccuWeather offers users what it calls MinuteCast, which breaks down forecasts by the minute. This forecast shows you a detailed outlook for the next four hours, including when rain will start and stop and what the temperature will be at specific times. This is helpful if you are about to leave a building and want to wait for the rain to stop. No more dashing through the pouring rain just for it to let up as soon as you get inside.
The app also gives you standard weather information, like daily temperatures, weather conditions and future coasts. There is also a section on the homepage dedicated to allergies, and the app displays severe weather alerts across the top of the homepage for easy access.
The free version of the app offers a lot, and the paid version offers more, like expert analysis of weather events. But AccuWeather also hides arguably essential information behind the paid version, such as insight into what you should do if you find yourself facing dangerous weather. I understand you have to differentiate the free and paid versions of the app, but withholding potentially lifesaving information like that behind a paywall feels gross.
You can download the free version of the AccuWeather app in the App Store and the Google Play store. You can also subscribe to the ad-free version of the app for $1 a month ($9 a year if paid upfront) or the premium version of the app for $2 a month ($20 a year).
Carrot Weather/Screenshot by CNET
Carrot Weather gives you the weather with a little personality. Here’s the twist: You can pick what kind of personality you want the app to have, from Professional, which disables banter, to Overkill — expect some heavy profanity. You can even select which politics the app personifies, from apolitical to anarchist.
This app gives you access to standard weather information like daily temperatures, weather conditions and future forecasts. It’s also easy to find other environmental information, like the current phase of the moon and the UV index, on the app’s homepage compared to some other weather apps.
While this app is fun and gives you a good breakdown of the weather, it doesn’t offer a radar with the free version of the app.
You can download the free version of Carrot Weather in the App Store and the Google Play store. You can also subscribe to the premium version of the app for $20 a year.
The WeatherBug app is a good weather app for people who spend a lot of time outside hiking, bike riding or just enjoying the outdoors. One section on the app’s homepage is called Outdoor Sports Index. This section shows you, on a scale of 1 to 10, how favorable the weather is for outdoor activities throughout the day. If a day has a score of 1 to 2, you’re in the clear for a great day outside, but if a day has a score of 9 or 10 the app recommends canceling outdoor plans.
The app gives you the standard weather information, like daily temperatures, weather conditions and humidity. It also shows you information like where the closest lightning strike was to your location in the last 30 minutes.
The ads in the free version of WeatherBug can feel overwhelming at times. There is an ad banner at the bottom of your screen at all times in addition to any ads you might see while scrolling down any given page. It can be even more confusing because the app has videos and articles throughout its homepage, but these stories are placed near ads, making it easy to accidentally tap into an advertisement.
You can download the free version of WeatherBug in the App Store and the Google Play store. You can also subscribe to the app for $1 a month, or $10 a year.
Weather Underground gives you standard weather information, like the current temperature, weather conditions and a live radar. You can also see temperatures and conditions from the last 24 hours if you’re a hobby meteorologist. The app also gives you a glossary if you run into a weather term you’re unfamiliar with.
The catch? Some Reddit users have said the app has been in decline for a few years. These users said the app has gotten slower and some features have been discarded altogether. For example, Weather Underground announced in 2018 the end of its API service. While new users might not notice a slower app or lack of features, it’s good to keep in mind just in case other features start disappearing. Weather Underground did not respond to a request for comment on these points.
You can download the free version of Weather Underground in the App Store and the Google Play store. You can also subscribe to the app for $4 a month or $20 a year.
With a Clime paid subscription, you get one of the most comprehensive weather radars out of all the weather apps on this list. While other radars might show the temperature, rain and snow, Clime’s radar will show you cloud coverage, snow depths and even active fire and hotspots.
The app gives you standard weather information, like current temperatures, chances of rain and feels-like temperatures. The app is focused on its radar, though — that’s the first thing you see when you open the app.
The app’s focus on its radar might be confusing to some. Many other weather apps show current weather information at the top of the homepage, but that information is relegated to the bottom of Clime’s homepage.
You can download the free version of Clime in the App Store and the Google Play store. You can also subscribe to the app for $10 a month or $30 a year.