I’m rather obsessed with the weather. It’s not my fault, it’s just that I was born and brought up in the U.K., and all British people are obsessed with the weather. I think it’s because the weather is rather changeable on this little island butting up to the European mainland. Over the course of a single week we can experience hot sun, icy frosts, torrential rain, deep snow, and gusts aplenty. It’s fun, but it means keeping up to date with the latest forecasts is absolutely essential.
No matter where you are in the world it’s important to keep an eye on the weather. While the simplest method is to stick your head outside and see for yourself what it’s like, that method can only get you so far. It’s much better to see, hear, or read a weather forecast compiled from data by a meteorologist. Thankfully the Web provides us with plenty of options, and what follows are the best weather websites currently available.
The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is known and respected around the world, and it handles its weather service in the same way it handles everything else: with clear and concise reports uncluttered by opinion or obtuse observations. You can instantly see an overall outlook for your area, and with a little extra delving can find a more detailed forecast for anything up to the next 10 days.
Perhaps the best feature on BBC Weather is the map as shown in the screenshot embedded below. You can focus in on your local area or widen the search to include a whole country. You can then see how the weather is set to change in increments throughout the day, with the option of viewing conditions, temperature, or pressure systems.
WeatherSpark is for those who want more than just a brief summary of what the weather is going to be like for the next few days. The amount of information on offer on this site is overwhelming, with forecasts showing conditions on an hourly basis, in-depth reports which include historical data, and interactive maps and graphs which can be adapted to each individual’s specific needs.
Thankfully this information is all presented in a visually pleasing manner, with a dashboard providing the main points for a specific area. By default this includes a map and a graph which combined give a detailed description of the weather for the next few hours and/or days. Data points that can be turned on or off include temperature, wind speeds, humidity levels, and precipitation probability.
This is the perfect option for those who, like me, are a little obsessed with studying weather patterns. If you’re more likely to take each day as it comes then WeatherSpark won’t be for you.
Weather Underground is another website which seeks to offer more information than any TV weather forecaster could ever impart on viewers. Cleverly the site design means the most relevant and easy to read data is at the top of the page, with the more detailed and geeky data hidden further down the page where only those who want to see it will find it.
This data is all presented in a mixture of textual and visual formats, but if that’s too much for your brain to take in then clicking on the WunderMap provides an even simpler way of seeing what’s happening outside. You can change the type of map or the data presented, and add extra layers to gain an overall picture of the weather where you are.
It has to be said Intellicast isn’t the best-looking website in the world, or even on this list. It’s too busy, with the links to find the relevant information a little confusing. Thankfully once you do find what you’re looking for you’re rewarded with accurate, up-to-date forecasts that will surely please purists of the genre.
The standards of weather websites — current conditions, and both short and longterm forecasts — are included. But there is also a great map feature which allows you to view local, national, or global weather systems developing. There are also charts that offer detailed analyses of various weather elements, such as atmospheric pressures and isobars.
If you can look past the dated look and feel employed by Intellicast the website offers an immense amount of data (with a U.S. bias) that can be broken down into digestible chunks.
The Weather Channel is many people’s first port of call when it comes to weather websites. This is partly due to the good reputation it enjoys, and partly due to the killer domain name of weather.com. The site offers accurate forecasts presented in a simple and easy-to-use format, and it’s the one on this list which most closely resembles the weather reports many of us are used to seeing on television.
The homepage offers news stories related to weather, as well as videos of extreme conditions and opinion pieces looking at longterm trends. Clicking on Weather brings up the current conditions, with severe weather warnings and alerts highlighted. There are also forecasts for the days and weeks ahead, as well as a fascinating Weather In Motion map showing how conditions are changing.
In some ways The Weather Channel offers the widest range of experiences, meaning both amateurs and experts alike will be able to get something from the site.
It was extremely hard narrowing this list down, as there are a surprising number of weather websites out there that do a fine job. In the end it came down to choosing those which provide good, reliable forecasts while offering something a little extra or unique. As always we’re keen to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below with your opinion on the best weather websites, whether they received a mention or not.
And please remember to wrap up warm/take a spare umbrella out with you/wear suncream/be careful on the ice. Delete as appropriate after you learn what the weather is going to be like in your part of the world.
Image Credit: Andres Rueda
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