5 Must-Have Weather Apps for the Outdoors

Iroz Gaizka/AFP/Getty Images

Source; Iroz Gaizka/AFP/Getty Images

Knowing what the weather is going to be like is very important if you’re planning outdoor activities. Lightning and thunder can ruin a beach day, or a surprise shower on your hike will leave you wet and miserable. That’s why at least one of your app downloads should be a weather app, and not just the one that comes stock with your smartphone.

Thousands of weather apps exist for both iOS and Android, giving you just about any type of weather information you need. We find the following five apps especially useful for outdoor enthusiasts and think they’re worth a download for sure.

1. RadarScope

  • Price: $9.99

There are a ton of radar apps out there, but one really stands out from the rest. Weather Decision Technologies’ RadarScope is that app. RadarScope gives users access to the full suite of radar products offered by the National Weather Service. Tools within the app allow you to measure the distance between your location and a storm, zoom in and out, and even save and share radar images over text, e-mail, and Twitter. While most will only find the “Base Reflectivity” (read: the radar you see on TV) products useful, they are all in real time. Lightning data is available in the “Pro” version of the app, which is available as a subscription for an additional $9.99 per year. Pro users also get longer radar loops, up to 20 frames versus six for the standard version of the app.

2. The Weather Channel

  • Price: Free

The Weather Channel’s app is another must have for outdoor enthusiasts. While RadarScope’s lightning data costs extra, The Weather Channel offers it for free. What we really like about this app though are the alerts. The Weather Channel sends you notifications to your home screen for a variety of events based on your location, including nearby lightning strikes, high pollen counts, and even rain alerts. The neat thing about the rain alerts is that it gives you an approximate time that the rain should arrive. Over our time using this app, we haven’t always found it perfect, but in many cases it’s come pretty close to the time rain actually arrives.

3. OnTheSnow Ski & Snow Report

  • Price: Free

If you’re planning to hit the slopes, give OnTheSnow’s mobile app a try. The app hosts reports for about 2,000 ski resorts worldwide, along with weather forecasts for those locations. We’ve also found the in-app map feature useful while on the hill to find trails without having to pull out a paper trail map. If you want to be the first to know about “powder days,” the app can send you alerts when your favorite ski resorts receive fresh snow. Another nice feature is a section devoted to deals and discounts, some of which you can show at the ticket window to get a discount on lift tickets.

4. Oakley Surf Report

  • Price: Free – iOS only

Oakley’s become synonymous with the beach and surf culture, so it should not come as too much of a surprise that it actually has a surf report app of its own. The app uses data from Surfline.com, and includes data on wave conditions at the world’s hottest surfing spots, such as swells, water temperature, tide information, and wind data. Since the app uses your built-in GPS, it will automatically pop up the closest surfing spots to you when you open it up. If it’s not a good day, check the forecast. Surf forecasts out to two days are also included.

5. Scoutlook Hunting & Fishing

  • Price: Free

If you’re into hunting or fishing, either of Scoutlook’s free apps for both iOS and Android are worth taking a look at. Hunters will find Scoutlook Hunting’s “ScentCone” feature useful: It takes wind data and plots where your scent will travel up to 72 hours in advance, which it says will increase your chances for a successful hunt. Another feature called “SetZone” uses the same wind data to plot a map of where to set your decoys up. Scoutlook Fishing has similar features, but here to predict where your boat will drift based on current winds. If you’d like to log your catches the app can do that, too.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edoswald

More from Gear & Style Cheat Sheet: