4:00 PM CST | February 26, 2019
There are a TON of weather sites and blogs across the United States. Most people, including myself, have several go-to sources. For most, this consists of a website or two and a couple Google Play or Apple iOS apps. In the age of smartphone applications and social media, many do not go to traditional websites any more. This is unfortunate because the most accurate forecasts are usually on websites, not apps. Websites also tend to be less invasive than apps which have been known to track users' data for more than just forecasts and alerts. Let me break down which websites are the most accurate, which are the most readily available on the app stores, and which offer a unique outlook on the weather.
1. National Weather Service
The National Weather Service is government-funded and operated. It was founded on February 9, 1870; it is a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. This is where original weather information including watches and warnings are first created and then distributed to regional and local weather outlets. You can get your local weather forecast via their website, along with historical data, weather models, and much more. You also are not bothered by annoying ads. While they do not have a mobile app, they are the most accurate and most complete source for weather information. It is my personal top weather site and a "must bookmark" for any and all weather enthusiasts.
WeatherBug is a weather media company based out of New York City. They offer a streamlined website and app experience. WeatherBug knows its strengths and does not try to operate outside them. It is a great source to go to when needing a quick forecast. Their location-based services are arguably the best available. They offer local forecasts, weather observations, radar, and a few other products. Unlike their private-sector competitors, the user is not inundated with advertisements. Their mobile app is available on virtually every device and operating system.
AccuWeather is a weather media company that was founded in 1962. It is headquartered in State College, Pennsylvania. Their primary focus had been on local and regional weather, but similar to The Weather Channel, they have shifted more toward trending stories and social media. Their meteorologists publish outlooks on temperature, precipitation, and severe weather. The latter is why I check their website a few times a month. They are home to the first 90-day weather forecast. How accurate is it? You can probably guess, or you are welcome to find out yourself. Nonetheless, they do offer a convenient app that is decent for casual weather watching.
4. The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel has been a household name for decades. They offer top stories, reality weather shows, local forecasts, radar, the occasional weather outlook, and a weather app. The Weather Channel has been a source of controversy since the mid-2000s, when they decided to shift their focus from traditional weather forecasts to hot button issues, such as global warming. They made another splash several years ago when they decided to start naming winter storms, similar to how NOAA names tropical storms and hurricanes. The number of advertisements can be overwhelming to visitors. This is the main reason why I do not personally have their app on my iPhone. If you need to look at the temperature or a quick forecast on your mobile device, most will be happier with WeatherBug.
5. NEXLAB (College Of DuPage)
NEXLAB stands for Next Generation Weather Lab; it is operated by the College of DuPage out of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. If you enjoy seeing high quality satellite, radar, and model data, this is the place for you. While they do not offer local forecasts or a weather app, they have an extraordinary amount of resources that are available for free to the public. Their local radar offers free dual-polarization graphics, which are not available with most "for-profit" weather companies. This is a go-to website during weather events.
WeatherBell is a relatively new weather company that specializes in meteorological consulting and model data. Their team inlcludes Meteorologist Joe Bastardi, who was with AccuWeather for years. If you appreciate long-range outlooks and discussions, you can often view these for free via the WeatherBell Facebook page. Topics can include severe weather, winter weather, hurricanes, and climate. Those who believe in man-made climate change may find some of the opinions frustrating. Regardless, they offer a unique and often accurate look at the upcoming weather. The rest of their video discussions and the majority of their model guidance is only available via their premium website. The current fee to join their premium website is $24.99 a month or $240.00 a year. If you can afford it, it is well worth it. Otherwise, free (albeit not as detailed) model data can be found on other websites such as the National Weather Service.
Weather2020 is another new weather company. It was founded by Meteorologist Gary Lezak out of Kansas City. He is most known in the state of Kansas for his recurring cycle theory. The website states that, "The Earth and universe have indefinite cycles that can be predicted - why wouldn’t they exist in the way we look at the weather?" Gary Lezak makes a convincing case that a unique weather pattern sets up each fall and cycles through the upcoming summer. You can read the latest updates on the Weather2020 Blog and join in the discussion yourself. Weather2020 offers a weather app as well.
I hope you found this list helpful as you search for your go-to sources for weather this year. It never hurts to refer to several sources, as it can give you a more accurate picture. For the latest local weather information for your area, please visit the National Weather Service website. You can also find us on Facebook.