4 websites and apps for local weather information

Technology News Blog

With both unusual earthquakes and a hurricane bearing down on the east coast of the United States, not to mention a record heatwave for much of the country this summer, the weather is on a lot of people's minds lately. Of course, with the end of summer, many families are planning last-minute vacations or Labor Day cookouts — and being stuck inside thanks to rain is not everyone's idea of a good time.

Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to stay on top of the weather, both for checking the extended forecast and keeping tabs on developing weather events. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel is, of course, the granddaddy of weather information services. The website associated with the cable channel is loaded full of helpful information on a local, regional, or even wider scale. It also offers several other ways to get information.

  • Desktop application If you're running Windows, download a free Weather Channel Desktop to put weather information at your fingertips. You'll see local conditions and forecasts, weather alerts, and the current temperature in your system tray, and you can easily search information for cities worldwide.
  • Mobile apps The Weather Channel offers apps (download The Weather Channel for iPhone, iPad, or Android) that connect you to all the information on the website, including video and animated maps. The apps also provide Facebook integration so you can share weather info with your friends.
  • Email and text message alerts Sign up for free email and text message alerts from the Weather Channel for a range of situations, from the obvious severe weather conditions to pollen alerts or surf and sea conditions.

2. Weather Underground
Weather Underground, or "Wunderground" as it is affectionately known, has some pretty impressive internet street cred — it claims the title of the first internet weather service in existence, citing its inception in 1991 as a menu-based telnet interface. Now it boasts the world's largest network of personal weather stations and provides users with an impressive array of localized weather information.

In 2008, Weather Underground launched Wundermap, which allows users to choose from a number of different weather layers that are plotted on top of a dynamic map interface. Definitely interesting stuff! In addition to current conditions, forecasts, and severe weather information, Wunderground offers links to numerous blogs by professionals, amateurs, and other community members, plus a host of smartphone and tablet apps and even a channel on Roku internet TV.

3. NOAA's National Weather Service
NOAA's National Weather Service website is the government's official weather information center. You can view current conditions, forecasts, and alerts for locations around the country, as well as climate data and historical information. This is a great website for finding detailed facts about all sorts of weather-related subjects, from river and stream levels to snow cover.

Since this is the U.S. government's official weather information site, you can rest assured that the information provided is as accurate as you're likely to find. NOAA doesn't offer mobile apps or text message alerts, but you can view and subscribe to dozens of different RSS feeds and sign up for email alerts. The National Weather Service is on Facebook and Twitter, too, so you can get updates on your friends list.

4. Foot's Forecast
Foot's Forecast may have a funny name, but it represents a very diverse team of forecasters, teachers, students, consultants, and weather enthusiasts. The website began as a high school class project led by Richard Foot, an earth and environmental sciences teacher in Baltimore County, Maryland, and has blossomed into an innovative and hugely informative weather information site.

Predictions are grouped into regional zones, and you can find forecasts on the web page as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Foot's Forecast really shines when severe weather hits, with up-to-the-minute information and predictions.

Keep up with Mother Nature
No matter where you live, the weather is one thing that affects us all. Whether you're planning a backyard barbecue, organizing a cross-country camping trip, or simply trying to decide whether you should mow the lawn today or wait until tomorrow, these helpful resources will make it easier to make an informed decision. Predicting the weather is, of course, a difficult thing to do, so you might want to try several different options and go with the average of them all.

Post by Katherine Gray

[Image credits: Audi_insperation, K. Gray]

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