Frustrated by being left cold and wet by weather apps that didn’t predict a rainstorm or estimated a much higher temperature than reality, I decided to put some weather apps to the test to see which ones were the most accurate.
I downloaded a number of weather apps and used them for a month to see which ones worked best for predicting weather in my city. I then compared the list to ForecastAdvisor, which compiles data on the accuracy of weather apps. These five were the winners.
Foreca supplies forecasts to news stations, cities, and other businesses, but it also provides a consumer weather app for free. This app consistently ranked the highest on ForecastAdvisor for accuracy in a number of cities across the country. For Boston, this app was accurate 81.69 percent of the time last year.
Foreca is simple and easy-to-use. It shows the day’s high and low temperatures at a glance, as well as times for sunrise and sunset, humidity, and wind speed. One click will show you hour-by-hour weather, and you can see the forecast for over a week in advance.
This app uses ads, but they are fairly unobtrusive at the bottom of the screen.
Hello Weather combines forecasts from Dark Sky, AccuWeather, The Weather Company, and AerisWeather into one app. You can choose to use one source for free, or pay to be able to switch back and forth between providers.
Hello Weather is free to use, or you can upgrade for $6.99 per year to the pro version, which includes radar maps, real-time precipitation estimates, and more.
Both the free and paid versions have a clean interface that easily shows you the essential aspects of the forecast on one screen. At a glance, you’ll see a timeline of the temperature over the day and the forecast for the week. Hello Weather aims to make the forecast easy to understand, so it will give an explanation after numbers. For example, “humidity is 50 percent and feels comfortable.”
If you prefer to have your weather delivered with a side of humor, download CARROT Weather. You can set this app’s personality on a scale of “professional” to “overkill,” depending on the level of snark (and profanity) you’d like to receive.
CARROT’s default forecast source is Dark Sky (which was rated at 73.60 percent accuracy by ForecastAdvisor for Boston last year).
The basic CARROT app costs $4.99 to download, and there are a number of membership tiers to get additional features such as severe weather notifications or the ability to switch between other weather sources.
CARROT’S interface is cute, with bright graphics and funny sayings, but it still shows you everything you need to know about the forecast in one glance. The main page shows the temperature, what it feels like, precipitation, wind speed, and the hourly forecast, plus predictions for the next four days. Scroll through the bottom to see the forecast for the rest of the week, or through the middle to see the extended hourly forecast.
Weather Underground consistently ranked high in ForecastAdvisor’s most accurate apps list for most cities around the country. In Boston, it was accurate 79.71 percent of the time last year. This app is free to downloaded, but does display a lot of ads.
Weather Underground allows you to bookmark a number of different locations, so you can easily switch between forecasts in different areas. The app shows the current temperature, the high and low for the day, and will also tell you if the temperature will be significantly hotter or cooler than the day before. You can also view the hourly and 10-day forecasts, plus a calendar view of historical average low and high temperatures for a month-long period.
Note that this app is owned by The Weather Channel, which has some privacy concerns as noted below.
The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel app is usually first or second place in accuracy on ForecastAdvisor’s list, but I’m including it on this list with a caveat: the app’s operator is currently embroiled in a lawsuit brought by the city of Los Angeles, which alleges that the Weather Channel app has been mining the private data of users, including location data, and selling it to third parties, without the knowledge of app users.
This app is free, but expect to see plenty of advertisements.
The Weather Channel app allows you to see hourly, 10-day, and long-term historical forecasts, and the format is easy to use. If you don’t mind sharing your data, this app is one of the more accurate free weather apps on the market.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 30 Essential Non-Travel Apps for Travelers
- The 5 Best Trip Planner Apps for Travelers
- 12 Travel Apps You Need on Your Phone
Caroline Morse Teel has a healthy distrust of most weather apps. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from around the world.
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.