Finding an Accurate Weather App

Weather forecast on a phone
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When it comes to checking your weather forecast, which weather service provider do you trust the most? If you're not sure, or interested in finding one that might work out for you, take a look at these weather services that repeatedly come out on top for accuracy.

For most people, choosing AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, or Weather Underground might be a good idea especially if you're a snob about air temperatures. All three of these weather apps were the best at getting the nation's one-day to five-day high temperatures right—that is, they consistently forecast them within three degrees of accuracy.

Why Not All Sizes Fit All

Keep in mind, these apps are among the best for most, but not all. These weather apps may not be the most accurate for you, personally. Each of these apps ranks as the most reliable for most locations across the United States. The accuracy of your forecast depends largely on where you live.

One reason why a weather service provider's forecasts may (or may not) be reliable for your city has to do with how that organization arrives at their forecasts. Weather providers each have a unique recipe. They all largely base their forecasts on the computer models provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but after that, there is no standard formula. Some services base their weather predictions solely on these computer models. Others use a mix of computers with a dash of human meteorologist skill and gut instinct sprinkled in. At times, computers do a better job at forecasting, and at other times you need a human to improve upon that data. It is the human element that factors in why predictive accuracy varies from location to location and from week to week.

A second reason is that your location may be too localized. Most forecasts are generated for major metropolitan areas across the U.S., so if you live along the city outskirts or in a rural area, it is possible that your hyper-local weather may not be getting captured. As more companies allow users to share real-time via their mobile devices, called weather crowd-sourcing, this data gap may become less of a hindrance.

Which Service Is Most Accurate for You?

If you're curious to know which major weather providers give the most accurate forecasts where you live, try ForecastAdvisor. The website lets you plug in your zip code and will show you how closely forecasts from The Weather Channel, WeatherBug, AccuWeather, Weather Underground, NWS, and others matched the actual weather observed for your area over the last month and year. 

Feel Like Your Forecast Is Always Wrong?

Did you try Forecast Advisor and were you surprised to see which services rank as best for your city mostly because none of them ever seem to get it right? Don't be so quick to blame your weather provider.

There are a couple of reasons why the weather outside your window may rarely seem to match up with the current or forecast conditions showing on your app. And, it is not always related to accuracy. It has to do with where the weather station is and how often the app (or your device) updates.

You're may be too far away from the closest weather station. Most observations that weather forecasts and apps use come from airports across the U.S., so if you are 10 miles from the closest airport, then your forecast may say there's light rain (and there may be at the airport) but it could be dry at your location.

In some cases, the weather observations may not have updated. Usually, most weather observations are taken hourly. So if it's raining at 10 a.m., but not at 10:50 a.m., then your current observation may be incorrect. You should also check your refresh time, too.

Hate Weather Apps Entirely?

If you have been let down by weather apps one too many times and have given up, all hope is not lost. If you want the most up-to-date picture of what's happening weatherwise, a good thing to do is check your local weather radar. Your local weather radar should update automatically every few minutes.