Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by a weather app.
OK, now put it down; you need to keep scrolling.
Complaining about the inaccuracy of weather apps is an internet rite of passage, and the topic pops up on social media platforms and news outlets alike.
And it’s not just one weather app we have a beef with; there are 100k+ app store options that keep us guessing, all slightly different:
- AccuWeather gives a minute-by-minute precipitation forecast
- Apple Weather acquired the beloved Dark Sky app in 2020 and incorporates its features
- The Weather Channel is a classic with radar forecasts 24 hours into the future
- Weather Underground offers data from 250k+ local weather stations
While the apps themselves can vary, they’re all working with similar data, most often pulled from sources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.
The data is then interpreted by meteorologists and/or app-specific algorithms before being delivered to users.
So, why are they unreliable?
The best weather apps achieve an accuracy of 80% or higher, according to Forecast Advisor, a site that grades apps.
Some of the problem comes from the complexity of weather: Small changes in the atmosphere’s moisture can have big effects. And geographies with microclimates (think waterfronts, mountains, etc.) are often given one sweeping forecast, making it inaccurate for certain users.
Arguably the biggest issue: our expectations. While we yearn for tech that never errs, that’s just not the case when it comes to weather.
Sorry to rain on your parade.
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