When vacation looms, the weather forecast takes on a special urgency. Will rain delay your flight? A hurricane wash out your beach getaway? Fog spoil your mountaintop view?
While we still can't control the weather, travelers are more empowered than ever to prepare and adjust their plans thanks to increasingly sophisticated—and beautifully designed—weather apps. I tried out dozens in sun, rain, and thunderstorms across the United States and on a recent trip to Europe, narrowing down the options to these 17 top choices.
If you're going to Europe, make sure to download WeatherPro, which has more European weather stations and satellites in its reports than some of the popular apps available in the U.S. app stores. And though bringing an umbrella can be a drag as you sightsee, so is getting caught in a sudden downpour. Both Dark Sky and AccuWeather's MinuteCast will alert you if—and where—it's going to rain within the next few minutes, so you'll be better prepared.
Hurricane season typically lasts from June through November, and the tropical storms that result from even modest hurricanes cause flooding, downed trees, and high winds. While hoping for the best, travelers can prepare for the worst by consulting the Weather Channel app's dedicated Hurricane Central section.
For weather nerds, we're entering a sunny age of data visualizations and real-time reports. But for others, the blitz of data delivered by many weather apps may be exhausting. Sometimes it's easier to just say, "Tell me the current weather" to your smartphone to get instant local listings. Or try a simplified, intuitive app like WeatherCube, which has a Rubik's Cube–like interface. You can link one of its squares to show your current day's appointments, if you sync the WeatherCube app with companion app CalCube.
There's even a Weather Puppy app, which features gratuitous, yet exceedingly cute, images of puppies enjoying whatever the current weather happens to be. It's a guaranteed pick-me-up, even on the dreariest day.