There are, at my last count, 62 applications in the Apps section of the iTunes store for the iPhone that have something to do with weather. 40 of them cost something. While I think some of the paid apps have merit, I figured that I would work through the free apps first to see if I could find one that does what I need so all listed here are either free from the App Store or websites with iPhone specific formatting.
Some of the offerings below are applications that you download and install on the iPhone and some are simply websites with iPhone specific formatting. Either way, getting the current weather is one of the things I do most with my iPhone. As you probably already know, slope soaring is very weather dependent and knowing the current conditions means I can enjoy the hobby more. In a way, slope soaring is a lot like surfing. You gotta go when the conditions are right!
Wunderground (Weather Underground)
I end up using this site most as I am normally looking for real time wind conditions in my local area and the network of observers in the Wunderground family provide a lot of locations to sample from. In the Milwaukee area I can select a personal weather station (PWS) that is only about a mile from one of our main slopes and where I need to know the wind direction. IN addition it is right on the Lake Michigan Bluff. With Lake Michigan exerting a significant effect on the weather around here, the conditions can vary significantly from the shore to just a few miles inland. The only real downside to using Wunderground is that it is not an app and that I would need to store multiple web pointers to easily access the spots I regularly look at. Be sure to enable use PWS (Personal Weather Stations) for the most choices on where to get observations from.
Here is the URL for direct access from your iPhone:
This is an app I use a lot. It also includes a real time display of the wind. One thing I really like is that I can store multiple locations so I often use this to check on sites I go to often but are outside my local area and for slopes where conditions are not as location dependent. In this way a single icon on the iPhone can open the door to dozens of slopes. The main downside to the WeatherBug app is that while there are about 25 observation points within 20 miles of my house none are right on the Lake Michigan Shore and, for my use, this is essential. For just about anyone else though this is a great application and probably the only on weather app you will need.
Download the WeatherBug App from the iTunes Store
Accuweather has an iPhone specific page on their site that contains a web app that shows a 15 day forecast but little more. Tapping on a date takes you to the main Accuweather site in Safari and opens the same page you’d see on a computer. For me, there is too much going on on the page to allow me to quickly get the info I need on the iPhone. To be fair, I use Accuweather a lot on the computer as I’ve found their hour-by-hour forecast to be the most accurate of the major forecasting services and it will allow me to see how the wind will change throughout the day.
As I was just putting the finishing touches on this article AccuWeather.com has launched a new location-aware application for the iPhone. The App is free and in my limited use of it thus far it seems to be more useful in a general weather kind of way than for my specialized needs.
Here is some more info on it.
The AccuWeather.com app is location-aware, limiting the need to enter
Features include :
- animated, user-centric radar and
- five-day local forecasts with high and low temperatures
- and sky conditions for day and night
- hour by hour forecasts
- weather videos including national, regional, and local forecasts as well as
- breaking weather news, lifestyle weather, and several other
- entertaining and informative choices
- health weather indices including the UV, air quality, an Arthritis Index, and Flu Index.
- WeatherRisc graphs, which show probability of severe weather conditions over the next eight hours
- weather alarms.
To learn more about other free AccuWeather.com applications, go to www.accuweather.com/downloadcenter.asp. You can download the
AccuWeather.com Application from the iTunes app store online or on your iPhone.
Note that while the Accuweather App is free, there is an ad banner at the top that cuts into the available screen real estate.
The Weather Channel
This is another application available from download from the iTunes App store. I have not used this App much. It does allow for multiple locations and has a decent video forecast window as well as a decent RADAR but it does not let me access any PWS sites so, again, I have limited use for it.
The best things I can say about Apple’s OE Weather app is that the default view is a very simple look at the current temp and at the week ahead. In addition, it is easy to store other locations. For my use the info really is not detailed enough but, again, I have some very specific needs.
So, in the end, for my needs, I use a combination of the Wunderground site and the Weather Bug App to access all the weather info I need to plan a slope flying expedition.