Just as the weather has started getting all freaky global warming on us, the Weather Channel has bought up the beloved weather site, Weather Underground, leading us to question whether we're still using the best weather site. When it comes to checking the weather, we tend to be creatures of habit since most weather forecasts are the same — they emanate from the National Weather Service. The main difference is presentation. We have gotten accustomed to choosing one site over another because we like (or are used to) the interface or maybe just because that's the one our browser pulls up when we type "weather" into the address bar. But perhaps we've been too closed minded about our weather website habits? There is a whole world (wide web) of temperature- and precipitation-related sites out there. Let's put aside weather website loyalties for a moment and make sure we have the right site for our sensibilities.
The type of person that might like this site: Simpletons, lazy folk, pictorial learners, mainstream media consumers, late adopters.
Why? Brought to us by a traditional news outlet, The Weather Channel, this is a site for the masses. With the easiest to remember URL, easy navigability, and the simplest to read weather graphics, this site is for the average weather checker. If we don't feel like reading words, we get a soft kindergarten style rendering of the day's weather. We also get some useful information for how the weather might affect our lives. Like, allergy and pollen alerts. The site has fancy forecast maps with isobars and stuff. But it's not the main attraction.
They type of person that might like this site: Parents, grandparents, people who are into international relations, mobile weather checkers, harried weather looker uppers, people who don't care about accuracy, hipsters.
Why? This site screams outdated. In an attempt to look with it, it uses some sort of animation technology to make those clouds move. But the font, the drawings and the patented RealFeel temperatures make this feel like Grandma's favorite weather site. As for utility, Lifehacker says it doesn't have the best information, as you can see it has DC a full four degrees cooler than weather.com. But, Lifehacker's people also liked the international forecasts and widgets. The best, best part of Accueweather's site, however, are these dramatic, yet informative, maps. Like this one that looks like a made-in-the-U.S.A meteorologist exploded on a map of his favorite democracy lovin' country.
The type of person that might like this site: Democrats, young people, Internet natives, San Franciscans, people who can't get enough of data, weather pundits, Farhad Manjoo.
Why? Good god this site is ugly. But, unlike other weather websites, it has a system called BestForecast that gives micro-climate information -- something Manjoo and others living in fickle places like San Francisco can appreciate. The service not only gets its information from the National Weather Service, but also collects data from "weather enthusiasts--people who love to track precipitation in their own backyards," according to Manjoo. For our data-fiend friends, there's even more details below that beautiful white scape of weather information. And, for those who just can't stop talking about weather, the site has a discussions forum for meteorologists to geek out with each other.
The type of person who might like this site: Snobs, people who like learning, Google Maps enthusiasts, general maps aficionados, people who can't read, wannabee statisticians.
Why: This site has none of that cutesy sunshine b.s. that we get on the Internet weather checking places. This is for serious weather people who want to know serious weather trends. On the left we get radar overlay on Google Maps and on the left we get a graph, which gives temperature organized by hour, along with a percentile range of accuracy, with the statistical max and minimum temperatures. But as fancy smart-man as this gets, it also has very few words. So those who don't like to read in the traditional words on paper sense, can get a lot of weather information with little reading skills.
THE F**KING WEATHER
The type of person who might like this site: 13 year-old-boys, professional Internet meme makers, people who just want information right now and cannot possibly be bothered to take an extra second to read a weather forecast.
Why? Simple, yet so egregious. Anyway, it has the bare minimum: highs, lows and possible chances of rain and clouds. And maybe the swear will impress a group of 7th grade boys? It also plays to Internet sensibilities with that interobang and state-the-obvious description. If anything, it gets the job done.
The National Weather Service
The type of person who might like this: Weather purists, anti-consumerists, primary source readers.
Why? Like we said, most of those sites above get their weather info from the National Weather Service. People who don't care about the frills of these other sites might as well just head to the original source. The graphics may look a little government made, but the site has a lot of relevant information. Like, past weather conditions, maps, weather safety, and on-the-ground conditions, like forest fires -- an increasingly relevant detail these days.
The type of person who might like this: Contrarians, dare to be different types, people with bad taste.
Why? If you thought Weather Underground was ugly, wait till you get a load of Intellicast. This site has nothing over any of the other sites, plus it just looks foul. Though Lifehacker readers say it gives accurate regional, national, and travel information, which counts for something.
So that's it. Maybe you were already using the right site for you. Maybe we opened your eyes to a new better site for your needs. Or, perhaps we missed some incredible weather site out there perfect for some personality we missed. Let us know in the comments!
- Nature & Environment
- Natural Phenomena
- National Weather Service
- Weather Underground
- The Weather Channel