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The best weather apps

19 May 2022

Whether you're a budding meteorologist or someone with an outdoor hobby, we’ve sorted through the bewildering number of weather apps to suggest the apps that should suit your needs best.

A mosaic of various different weathers

Your iPhone or Android smartphone will come with its own default weather app but, as with anything that claims to be a Jack-of-all-trades, you might find that the information it provides doesn’t completely meet your needs. 

A sailor, for example, needs different information to a gardener, and someone who enjoys taking city breaks will probably have a different set of priorities to someone who enjoys wild camping in the Scottish mountains.

So a lot of people are searching the internet for a weather app to meet their needs – and there are a bewildering number of applications out there that claim to meet them. Here’s a rundown on some of the best. And what's more, most of these are completely free.

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For the outdoor enthusiast

Met Office Weather Forecast 

Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors needs to know what’s happening now, what’s about to happen and, crucially, the effect it will have on them. 

The Metrological Office has a long-standing reputation for accuracy, so few are better qualified to reassure anyone who relies on accurate weather forecasts to keep them safe and, in extreme weather conditions, alive.

The Met Office’s pedigree shows in the presentation of its forecast; it doesn’t just show the temperature, it also shows you what that temperature will feel like taking factors like wind chill into account. 

You can also set alerts for severe weather warnings, meaning you’ll never get caught out by heavy rain, snow or high winds again.

Cost: free

Available for: Apple iOS and Android

For the sailor or fisherman

Windfinder: Wind & Weather Map

Windfinder does more than just show the strength and direction of the prevailing wind. It’s also a fully functioning weather app and tide finder that gives the keen sailor, kayaker, windsurfer or fisherman all the information they could ever need in order to stay safe and enjoy their hobby to the full.

Cost: free, pro version upgrade available at a cost

Available for: Apple iOS and Android

For the weather hobbyist

Weather Underground: Local Map

Crowd-sourced data is quite the thing these days, so it was inevitable that an enterprising app developer would use the same principle to aggregate weather forecast data from a series of amateur weather stations across the globe.

Weather Underground uses information from hundreds of thousands of personal weather stations, and users can even upload photos of the prevailing weather at their location so you can see for yourself how the weather is affecting roads and paths. You can even sign up to add your own weather station.

Cost: free

Available for: Apple iOS and Android

For the gardener

Dark Sky Weather

Dark Sky is billed as a hyper-local weather forecast that tells you the exact time it will start to rain or snow in your area. 

You can set up notifications that will alert you when it’s going to rain, meaning you won’t even need to open the app to find out if you’ve got time to give the lawn a quick trim before the heavens open!

There is also a fascinating graphic that lets you scroll around the globe to check what the weather is like anywhere on the planet and there is a version of the app that enables you to use it on your Apple Watch.

Dark Sky was bought by Apple so is no longer available on Android, although you can still view weather details on their website.

Cost: £3.99

Available for: Apple iOS

For the hay-fever sufferer

BBC Weather 

Anyone who suffers from hay fever can rely on the good old BBC, whose weather app features a pollen count on its ten-day forecast.

It also shows the UV levels, something that anyone with sensitive skin will appreciate.

Cost: free

Available for: Apple iOS and Android

For the cloud spotter

Cloud-a-Day

Want to be able to tell your Cumulus from your Cavum? The Cloud Appreciation Ltd's Cloud-a-Day app aims to teach you how to identify 40 types of clouds and 18 optical effects. The app keeps a database of images and information about different cloud varieties, and each morning you'll get an uplifting image from another app user. Identify clouds you're spotting using the step-by-step wizard that uses a simple flow chart to help you identify what you're seeing, or use your phone's camera and the CloudSpotter AI.

Cost: free

Available for: Apple iOS and Android

For the storm chaser

My Lightning Tracker & Alerts

Perhaps you love thunderstorms and want to know when one is on the way, perhaps you hate them or have a nervous pet and want to know when to prepare for one. Maybe you're even a photographer that wants to get the perfect shot of dramatic lightning forking down from the clouds. Whatever your reason, My Lightning Tracker helps you track lightning strikes in almost real-time, all around the world, and get notifications when it strikes in your area as well as use the weather radar to see what's on the way.

Cost: free

Available for: Apple iOS and Android

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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.