Free weather apps and websites come in handy. No matter who you are or what your profession is, the weather can have a significant impact on how you spend your day. You may end up with the perfect weather for your needs, a “perfect storm,” or somewhere in between.
We certainly can’t control what happens in the atmosphere, but meteorologists are better able to predict what’s coming than ever before. Easy access to such a prediction can be the difference between seeing your plans come to fruition or your day falling apart before it even begins.
Best Free Weather Apps to Track Storms
If you operate a ski lodge, mountain rescue facility, or any other business that relies on the state of the local winter weather, streamlined access to accurate predictions is even more important. A blizzard or ice storm may require you to close the slopes, stand at the ready, or even prepare for a day of work.
Radical weather affects snow grooming. The ability to prepare for these occurrences can be the difference between protecting people from the oncoming weather and feeling blindsided when things go south.
So, how do you properly predict the weather if you aren’t a trained meteorologist? If you’re a ski lodge owner or rescue manager, it’s not safe to take a gamble on data that might not always be reliable. At the same time, most businesses can’t afford to spend a ton of money on expensive weather equipment and intel.
That’s why we’ve compiled the best weather radar websites and apps. Learn more about how they work, why you should consider using one to help your business stay on top of the weather, and how you can avoid spending too much money to do so.
To start, it’s important to explain what you should be looking for. Then, it will be easy to see why these particular websites and apps are ranked so highly. What is it that actually makes a weather app more reliable than others? Is it the number of correct predictions, the in-depth nature of the predictions, the reliable way the information is sourced, or some combination of the above?
Here are the most important factors:
Reliability and Detail
Apple and Android phones already have some pretty functional little weather apps built into the operating system. Many modern computers also have these or similar apps designed for their operating systems, and it’s easy enough to just ask Siri, Google, or Alexa what the weather is.
These apps work fine for personal use, such as if you’re planning an event or simply want to know what to wear for the day. In short—if you’re looking for a basic weather report that is immediately available regardless of your location, you can stop there.
While not all of the free weather apps are capable of providing useful information, not all of the most informative apps are expensive. That sweet spot where inexpensive meets high function is where we’ll be looking. In this way, we’ll help you find a low-cost but still detailed weather app suited for your business’s needs.
One more important factor is that the best apps should work for both Apple and Android devices. It’s all too common for a great app to be limited to just one company’s app store, which severely limits how many people can take advantage of it.
That means the rest of your team may be left in the dark if they have one preference or the other. For the purposes of this list, we’ll be featuring apps that can be used by anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone to ensure the apps listed are useful to as many people as possible.
The National Weather Service (NWS)
Technically a civil service that does not provide an app, the NWS is the primary source for most weather apps’ information. The website of The National Weather Service is a comprehensive, free and reliable way to get accurate and detailed weather forecasts. The site itself has undergone various updates in recent years and has become much more user-friendly of late with small user-interface changes and a broader website overhaul.
The NWS site is also designed to work with both desktop and mobile devices, allowing you to get the weather for free no matter what you’re using. Features include easy zooming, comprehensive and filtered radars, animations, and on-map storm warnings.
The NWS isn’t perfect, however. It’s a fairly large website, and using it effectively means you’ll need a reliable high-speed internet connection.
Of course, this may be available at the mountain lodge, but it’s not always a guarantee when you’re on the slopes. Like most data-heavy websites, there’s an increased possibility the site could crash, glitch, or lag.
The most unfortunate thing about the NWS site is that it is just that—a site only. The NWS lacks an app, which also means you won’t get push weather notifications. Still, it’s an informative website built by the authority on weather, so it’s not a bad option by any means. The National Weather Service is trusted for a good reason, and its weather insights come to you at no cost at all.
Clime (Formerly NOAA Weather Live)
Price: Free, with a premium tier starting at $19.99/year
If you want official government satellite imagery packaged within an app, you’ll need to check out the Clime app. This iOS and Android app uses data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including comprehensive radar, detailed precipitation and cloud cover info, temperature maps, weather warnings, and a host of other data. Perhaps most useful are the one-day forecasts and seven-day outlooks provided by the NOAA.
If you want hurricane tracking, lightning strike alerts, and more full-fledged push notifications, you can upgrade to the paid version. We think the free version does just fine, but for the additional features you get—and the ability to go ad-free—you may want to spend the $19.99 and upgrade. Overall, this is one of the best weather forecasts offered by an app.
If you want to track the weather and have a good time doing it, Carrot Weather makes for a great option. The app, which is available for both iOS and Android, offers a variety of perks for free and others for a premium price, which isn’t all that expensive. These perks include customizable notifications, which could be used to alert you about an oncoming snowstorm, warm front, or other weather event. You’ll also get the ability to switch between data sources to ensure you’re getting accurate info, a detailed, live-updating weather map, and a famously sarcastic personality to go along with it.
Getting your weather from a wisecracking AI may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but many of the other features have been transplanted from Dark Sky (the former iOS app). All this means Carrot Weather is a reliable and informative app, either despite or because of its humor (your pick). While many of the most useful features are paywalled, becoming a premium user is only about $5 a month, a price that’s still on the low end for the info you’ll access. Even if you only use the free version, Carrot Weather is still a reliable app that mines its data from multiple trusted sources.
Price: Free, with various paid upgrades available, including premium features (a separate app for $3.99) and pro radar ($6.99)
If it’s local weather you’re interested in, an app like MyRadar might just do the trick. This is a free app for both Android and iOS. Unlike other weather apps and websites, it’s hyper-localized, meaning that you won’t get bogged down with weather reports from other areas. For a mountaintop facility, this means that the weather for the region will be easy to access and simple to track. The app has a live radar and extra layers you can add if you need more details.
As with Carrot Weather and Clime, a paid version exists. However, most of the features you’ll need are available without paying a cent. Upgrading to premium simply allows you to have a more detailed radar, tropical storm alerts, and a greater variety of radars. For that, you’ll simply need to pay for and download a separate app: MyRadar Pro. As a free weather app, MyRadar has a lot of benefits that any ski lodge or rescue facility can take advantage of.
Sometimes, knowing whether there’s snow on the way simply isn’t enough to plan ahead, especially for businesses that rely on the correct weather conditions. This is where the free app, Windy, comes in. With over 40 maps to look at, you can get the details on every aspect of the weather, from the temperature to the wind patterns (which can be especially useful to avoid blizzards and hailstorms).
Windy maps are detailed and trustworthy, though they do take a few minutes to update compared to similar NOAA maps. However, for winter weather, it may be worth the wait. In fact, when it comes to using a free weather app for mountaineering and mountain facility purposes, Windy may be our pick for the best weather forecast, with highly detailed information and no need to update to premium to get it.
How to React to a Weather Forecast
Now that you know a few great free weather apps to check out, it’s just as important to know how this data can improve your work.
Once you have accurate forecasts in the palm of your hand, you can identify oncoming storms and temperature changes, allowing you to plan ahead. Whether you’re looking to schedule snowcat tours on a day when the conditions allow or prepare the slopes in advance of the busy ski season, your newfound weather knowledge can help you do it safely. With accurate weather, you won’t have to worry about creating events or maintaining slopes that will go unused. Meanwhile, your guests can safely enjoy a variety of activities without worrying about cutting their time short due to the weather.
Search and rescue operations will also be enhanced if you’re better able to predict the weather. You’ll be able to prepare for bad weather and ensure you’re geared up, whether you’re braving the conditions or preparing for the system to pass. The mountains can be dangerous, especially for the unprepared and inexperienced, and knowing when a blizzard is coming, whether the snow is unstable, or if the temperatures will drop to dangerous levels can help you anticipate issues and respond quickly. Most importantly, you and your staff will stay safe—dangerous weather won’t catch you off guard if you’ve chosen a quality weather app.
Get the Right Snowcat Equipment
Ensuring you’re weather ready involves far more than weather app selection. Whether you’re looking to groom the slopes, rescue stranded individuals, or provide tours of your property, you need a reliable snow cat to do it. In fact, a PistenBully is best-in-class when it comes to preparing slopes and safely navigating through treacherous weather conditions.