The Top 3 Most Accurate Weather Companies, Named

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When it comes to checking your forecast, what weather service provider do you trust?

According to a recent 2015 report by ForecastWatch (a company that tracks how accurate the big name U.S. weather organizations are), you may want to add AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, and Weather Underground to your lineup, especially if you're a snob about air temperatures. All three of these companies 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 how warm it actually got.

(Read the ForecastWatch report in full here.)  

But before you download the AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, and Weather Underground apps and bookmark consider this: just because each ranks as the most reliable for most locations across the United States, doesn't mean it will be the most accurate for you personally. How accurate a forecast you'll get largely depends on where you live or what location you want the forecast for.

Who Has the Most Accurate Forecasts? It Isn't a One Size Fits All Kind of Thing

How accurate a forecast you'll get largely depends on where you live or what location you want the forecast for.

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 for arriving at their final forecasts. They all largely base their forecasts on the computer models provided by NOAA, but after that there's no standard formula.

Some 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 others you need a human to improve upon that data; which is why you can expect accuracy to vary not only from location to location, but by weather condition, and from week to week as well.

 

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

Who Is Most Accurate for You?

If you're curious to know which major weather providers give the most accurate forecasts where you live, give ForecastAdvisor a try. Run by the folks at ForecastWatch, the site 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?

Surprised to see which names 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 that aren't always related to accuracy:

  • You're 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're 10 miles from the closest airport, your forecast may say there's light rain (and it is at the airport) but is could be dry at your location.
  • The weather observations haven't updated. Most weather observations are usually only taken hourly. So if it's raining at 10 a.m., but not at 10:50, your current observation will be incorrect. (Be sure to check the refresh time too.)

If you want the most up-to-date picture of what's happening, a good thing to do is check the weather radar, since this updates automatically every few minutes.

 

Which weather app (or combination of apps) can we find on your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry homescreen? Tweet or FB About Weather and let us know which are your must-haves. 

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Means, Tiffany. "The Top 3 Most Accurate Weather Companies, Named." ThoughtCo, Dec. 1, 2015, thoughtco.com/most-accurate-weather-companies-3444560. Means, Tiffany. (2015, December 1). The Top 3 Most Accurate Weather Companies, Named. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/most-accurate-weather-companies-3444560 Means, Tiffany. "The Top 3 Most Accurate Weather Companies, Named." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/most-accurate-weather-companies-3444560 (accessed February 24, 2018).