Blog Post

How to Get Started as an Amateur Weather Observer Part II: Mobile Phone Applications

  • By Ben May, Board Director of the National Weather Association Foundation
  • Mar 4, 2021

While there are many, many apps, I present here the best ones I’ve been able to find after quite a bit of trial and error. I’m sure there are others I’ve left out, but these work best for me.

 

Costs

Most apps are free but if you want a few ‘bells and whistles’ you end up paying a fee, either once, monthly or yearly.

 

 

Accuweather

Accuweather is one of the best forecasting companies around. They live the weather and just seem to ‘get it right’ most of the time. Whenever I want to get a jump on most forecasts, I go to Accuweather to verify. They also have timely videos daily with their meteorologists explaining the forecast, as well as national and local radar. Accuweather Professional is a fee-based site that can take you about as deep as you can imagine for numerical and predicative model-based forecasts. It’s more suited for businesses that are very weather dependent. But if you’re a super weather geek this one’s for you. It’s even too much for me!

 

Available for: Apple devices in the App Store and Android devices through Google Play

Cost: Free download, with in app purchases

 

 

CloudySky

This unique app is a must for every amateur level but especially beginners, even young ones who want to learn weather basics. It’s the only app of its kind. It offers a real time view of all cloud categories at all levels while you are observing the sky. You compare the clouds you see with the chart, which is highly instructive about cloud categories and even subcategories. There is a built-in feature that allows you to snap a picture of the clouds you are viewing, placing it in a dated catalog. This is the only app I’ve seen for ‘reading the clouds,’ and it’s ingenious.

 

 

Available for: Apple devices in the App Store

Cost: $.99

 

 

 

 

Deep Weather

This app is a 24/7 professional, scientific explanation of the weather conditions and forecast in your area, or anywhere in the country you select. There are no maps, only explanations. What I like about this app is it familiarizes the amateur with the forecast ‘lingo.’  You’ll understand 75% of it. You can quickly google the information you don’t understand but it will give you a feel for professional forecasts because they are written by the National Weather Service forecaster in charge of the location you choose.

 

Available for: Apple devices in the App Store

Cost: Free

 

 

 

 

 

RadarScope

This app is the one most of my meteorologist colleagues use. It’s simple but extremely accurate, especially for the precise direction of severe storms. It’s a workhorse-one of the apps I use most frequently. 

 

It allows you to view NEXRAD Level 3 and Super-Resolution radar data along with Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood and Special Marine Warnings, and predicted storm tracks issued by the U.S. National Weather Service.

 

 

Available for: Apple devices in the App Store and Android devices through Google Play

Cost: $9.99

 

 

 

 

Storm Radar

I like this app because it is a predicative radar, advancing ahead from 1-3 hours, giving an idea of when to expect the next line of storms in your area.


It includes live severe weather alerts, including floods, lightning and hourly tornado updates from NOAA storm radar and hurricane tracker. 

 

 

 

Available for: Apple devices in the App Store and Android devices through Google Play

Cost: Free for basic version; a paid pro version is also available

 

 

 

Weather Mate

This app is exceptional with multiple extensions including radar, local alerts and NOAA weather radio broadcasts for your area. IF YOU ONLY WANT ONE APP, THIS IS THE ONE.

Weather Mate uses weather data from Weather Underground and The Weather Channel as well as the network of 250,000+ personal weather stations and Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) stations at airports around the world. 

Available for: Apple devices in the App Store

Cost: Free for basic version; pro version is $4.99

 

 

 

WeatherTAP

I love this website with an accompanying app. There is a minimal monthly fee, but it is well worth it. There is a plethora of maps, upper/air charts and real-time radar. The graphics are exceptional.

 

Available for: Apple devices in the App Store and Android devices through Google Play

Cost: You must be a monthly subscriber to the website to use the app