What are good weather apps for smart phones?

Good weather apps for smart phones provide easy access to current weather and forecasts. Many apps tell you about the high temperature for the day and can provide an hour-by-hour breakdown of temperatures, chance and type of precipitation, air quality and other weather information.

Your device likely comes with an installed weather app, but consider exploring other apps. Apps that include live weather radar and any severe weather alerts for your area are valuable. They are useful for identifying precipitation and storm location and movement. Many include lightning flash locaters, too. Apps with current weather radar data provide useful information when you need to be outside and precipitation is in the area.

Weather apps are pulling data that is freely provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The NOAA and National Weather Service provide weather observations, output from numerical weather prediction models and professional analysis thereof. Weather apps translate this data into easily accessible information using a sunny icon, a rainy cloud, or a lightning flash. Some also include analysis and interpretation of the NWS data by their own meteorologists.

There are apps that allow you to upload your precipitation observations, such as mPING and CoCoRaHS. This data is then visible to others for their use.

As professional meteorologists, we have access to weather information from various resources. However, we also have weather apps on our phones. Apps that include wireless emergency alerts that are activated during severe weather are particularly valuable.

A potential downside to some free apps is that they include ads that can be distracting. Some apps may collect, use, and share your data. That is why it’s important to understand their privacy policies, too.

Steve Ackerman and Jonathan Martin, professors in the UW-Madison department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, are guests on WHA radio (970 AM) at 11:45 a.m. the last Monday of each month. Send them your questions at stevea@ssec.wisc.edu or jemarti1@wisc.edu.

Category: Meteorology, Uncategorized

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