The best iPhone weather apps to help you plan your day

Many people rely on the local meteorologist to find out what the weather’s going to be like, but what happens when you’re on the road, or can’t get to the TV? That’s where weather apps come in. Mobile apps are a great way to get the latest forecast any time you need it.

Don’t just head to the App Store and start downloading, though. While just about all of the apps you can find will be able to tell you what the weather is like and what the forecast is, only a select few do it in a way that we think is particularly useful — and we’ve rounded them up here. We’ll tell you why we think they’re special and rise above the rest. Without further ado, here’s our list of best weather apps for the iPhone.

Did you know that you can check the weather on Facebook? And if you’re checking the weather because you’re traveling, don’t forget to check our picks for the best travel apps and how to book a last-minute getaway.

Dark Sky ($4)


Why we picked it: The visualizations.

Dark Sky is our pick for the best weather app out there. It’s not free like most of our other picks, but if you’re serious about tracking the weather, it doesn’t get much better than this. Where Dark Sky shines is in its visualizations and minute-by-minute predictions.

You can get get those up-to-date forecasts as much as an hour in advance, andin hourly increments for the next seven days. The app’s simple interface shows you the weather conditions and expected temperatures, and it can even send you notifications before it starts raining or snowing, so you’re not caught by surprise. There’s also an Apple Watch app that provides the basics, meaning you can keep your phone stowed on the go.

What we really like about Dark Sky, however, is the visualizations. They’re smooth and elegant, which is something you don’t find in most weather apps. Few weather apps approach maps quite like Dark Sky, which is why it’s in a class of its own. It’s even better without ads, and the one-time fee is far more attractive than the subscription-based model used by other apps.

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AccuWeather (Free)


Why we picked it: The comprehensive weather data.

AccuWeather gets high marks from us not only for its simplicity but also for being so comprehensive. While Dark Sky is no-frills, just about any kind of weather information you might need is at your fingertips with AccuWeather. Minute-by-minute forecasts are available up to two hours in advance, which is better than Dark Sky, but you’ll only be able to get hourly conditions up to 72 hours in advance, as opposed to seven days with Dark Sky.

Other features set it apart, though. You’ll be able to look up information regarding both sunrise and sunset, in addition to allergies, and there’s news and video pertaining to the current weather cycle. You can also send in your own weather reports and videos if you feel like making a contribution. AccuWeather may even feature your videos in its news reports.

Overall, we’ve found AccuWeather’s MinuteCast to be nearly as good as Dark Sky, though it does lack the latter’s notification features, at least for non-severe weather events.

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The Weather Channel (Free, $4 for ad-free version)


Why we picked it: The well-rounded integration.

How could The Weather Channel’s app not make our list? It’s free, comprehensive, and has just about everything you need to keep an eye on the sky. The app automatically changes based on your current location and provides the current weather and hourly weather up to two days in advance. It can also handle forecasts up to 15 days in advance.

In addition, you can set the app to automatically notify you of severe weather. You can also use it to tap into exclusive web content and video recorded directly from the Weather Channel’s TV broadcasts. And if you’re up early enough — that is, before 11 a.m. — you can check out “The Lift,” a six-minute weather show that details the day’s weather nationwide.

Those who suffer from allergies will find the app useful, too, as will outdoor enthusiasts. The app tells you whether the weather is right for a variety of outdoor activities, which change based on the season. The app’s mapping software also updates quickly, and though the lightning data isn’t as detailed as it is in RadarScope Pro, it is available. We’re big fans of the alerts after nearby lightning strikes, but to be frank, we generally heard the thunder before the app warned us.

You can even eliminate ads for one year for $4.

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RadarScope ($10/$15)


Why we picked it: The radar and lightning data.

Our next app doesn’t tell you the temperature, nor is it going to provide you with a forecast. In fact, RadarScope is pretty one-dimensional — it shows you the radar and that’s it. Nonetheless, it excels when it comes to its one and only function.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a storm chaser, or simply somebody that appreciates up-to-the-minute weather info, this is the app for you. Radar images refresh every six minutes, and storm warnings are placed on top of the radar images for added convenience. You also have access to other radar statistics, such as velocity, precipitation estimates, and nearly a dozen other metrics, none of which are available through your standard weather app.

While it’s an additional expense, we recommend subscribing to at least RadarScope Pro Tier 1. Doing so nets you lightning and dual-pane radar data, and the ability to loop up to 20 frames, giving you quick access to two hours of data. It’s $10 a year, but this app is a must-have for those most affected by storms and rain.

There’s also a new Pro Tier 2, which is either $15 a month or $100 a year. We recommend the annual subscription, as it’s a 45 percent saving. This is targeted toward the weather nerd. You’ll get access to a 30-day archive of all available radar data from any radar site, as well as the ability to look up estimates for hail size and rotation (azimuthal shear) contours. It’s geeky stuff, but it’s not a bad deal if you’re really looking for that kind of data.

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Haze ($1)

Haze weather app

Why we picked it: The colorful design and simplicity.

We’ve looked at some detailed options and apps that might interest serious weather enthusiasts or even professionals, but what if you want something simple? Haze gives you a straightforward five-day forecast that strips everything back to the important stuff. You can see the temperature, but there’s also data on likely highs and lows, UV, cloud coverage, sunshine hours, sunset times, windchill, windspeed, humidity, chance of rain, and more.

The data is location-based and pulled in from Weather Trends 360, but the real attraction of this app is the clever use of color, the slick animations, and the accompanying sounds. It’s an elegant design that’s very easy to use, managing to be visually appealing and informative at the same time. We also love the fact that you can customize it to display precisely what you’re most interested in.

At just a dollar, we think Haze is ideal for the average person who just wants a simple forecast and basic details presented in an attractive style that’s easy to understand.

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1Weather (free, $2 for Pro version)


Why we picked it: The depth and design.

This beautifully crafted weather app manages to display an enormous amount of data without feeling too cluttered or technical. There’s an hourly forecast for the next 48 hours, an extended 10-day forecast, and even a 12-week forecast for really planning ahead. It covers everything from wind speed and direction to barometric pressure, and allows you to simultaneously track the weather at up to 12 different locations.

If you just want a simple, at-a-glance forecast, 1Weather has you covered, but you can also dig into radar maps, graphs, moon phases, and a whole lot more. This app also offers informative videos, marine and aviation forecasts, and customizable weather alerts. There’s even a handy widget, so you can check the weather from your home screen.

As a free weather app, 1Weather is tough to beat. It does have ads, but they’re not too intrusive and you can always pay $2 for the Pro version and get rid of them. Whatever your weather needs, we think this app is well worth a look.

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If you’re on Android, these are our picks for the best weather apps, and if you decide to go out in bad weather, you can pick one of these windproof umbrellas to help you out.