The Best Weather App For The UK: My Honest Opinion
If we want to find best weather app for the UK specifically, there’s only really one winner. There are dozens of weather apps for your phone and tablet out there and it probably leads you to ask ‘why are there so many weather apps and how can they be any different from one another?’. The information that you’ll see on these forecasts is a compilation of the information from the various weather stations, balloons, radars, satellites and more. Computers do the rest by bringing all the information such as humidity, air pressure, temperatures and precipitation, together and translating it into a weather forecast.
There are a variety of apps out there and I’m going to come straight out and tell you the one I swear by.
The Met Office App
This, for me, is hands down the best weather app if you want an accurate forecast for the UK. As already mentioned, you’ll never get a weather source that is 100% accurate, it’s just not possible, but from a hiker’s point of view, this app has rarely failed me.
I used to rely on the BBC Weather app which does offer a fairly accurate forecast for regional areas and for longer periods of time but I didn’t find it to be as helpful when I am going to hike a specific mountain (or 5). For this reason the Met Office app is far superior if you want to go hiking or simply want a more detailed weather forecast. The BBC gets its weather data from the Met Office but as an app it is not comparable.
Back to the main subject though…. which is why the Met Office is such a good weather app, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. I’m going to write this review from a hiker’s perspective but the same things that I explain can be used for any location.
The thing that really wins it for me is the fact that I can get an individual mountain forecast.
List of features offered by the app:
- Precipitation probability.
- Highest and lowest day temperature for specific location.
- Current temperature.
- The time at which the forecast was ‘issued’.
- Wind speed.
- Wind direction.
- Wind gusts.
- Sunrise and sunset times.
- Feels like temperature.
- UV rays.
- Icons describing weather conditions.
- Air pollution indicator.
- Pollen forecasts.
- Text summary of forecast.
- Official Met Office severe weather warnings.
- National forecast video.
The App In Use
1. I search for the name of the peak, let’s take Ciste Dhubh in Kintail as our example. The first thing that I’ll look for is the projected precipitation. As a general rule for me, anything below 50% is hikable, above 50% I won’t bother or go knowing that I’m going to get wet. The day I checked below, precipitation levels are ideal for hiking.
2. I then check the wind forecast. As you can see, the average speed (bold) and potential gusts (faded) are at an ideal level for hiking. Anything below 50 mph I don’t have a problem hiking in, above this and extra care should be taken. If you have a look below the ‘wind forecast’ you’ll see an ad, these are eliminated if you get the paid version for £2.99.
3. If it’s winter or late autumn, I keep a special eye on sunrise/sunset times so that I can plan accordingly. For Ciste Dhubh, you can see that the sun will be setting at 16:44. This means that, especially if it’s a longer hike, I’ll want to get started as early as possible. Also, note that we have the UV forecast and air pollution which are both low (which is generally the case in the Highlands of Scotland).
4. I love taking landscape photos, so I’ll then check the forecasted visibility. For Ciste Dhubh, the following day is ‘excellent’ and ‘very good’ which are both ideal conditions for views and excellent photos. Anything below good/moderate tend to be poor hiking conditions. They can also mean a greater risk to your personal safety, it’s a lot easier to get lost than you may think.
Note that there’s a small text excerpt giving you a brief overview on conditions in the local area. You can also check the tabs labelled ‘pressure’ and ‘humidity’.
These are the key features if you are planning a hike or long excursion. You can, of course, make use of the many extensive features such as pollen forecast if you suffer from hay fever.
Please bear in mind that I live in the vicinity of several of Scotland’s highest peaks so I have the luxury of being able to leave a couple of hours before my intended hike. Obviously, a lot of the time hiking trips are planned well in advance and you are relying on luck for the weather. If this is the case, the app can still be used to great effect, allowing you to get your timings right and potentially choose which peaks/routes to do at what time.
A final feature which I find really useful is the 24-hour rain map. The day before a hike, I’ll keep a good eye on this and where the rain is scheduled to fall. In my experience, it tends to be very accurate. The black location icons below are the places (peaks in this instance) which I have saved to my Met Office App dashboard. You have the option of zooming right into the map which is very handy if you want to get specific.
Summarising The App
Let’s have a quick look at the pros and cons of this app, summarising all of the above points.
- Huge range of features like many of the available weather apps.
- Offers individual forecast for each of the UK’s mountains which is invaluable to hikers.
- It is available on the App Store and Google Play Store.
- An extremely accurate 24-hour rain map of the UK.
- You can save a number of locations to your dashboard.
- Change units to suit you, for example wind speed can be set in mph, kph or knots.
- Offers international forecasts although I have never used it.
- Maybe not as smooth an interface as some other weather apps.
- Ads can get a bit annoying if you don’t want to pay the £2.99.
- No weather app will ever be 100% accurate.
To Wrap Things Up
If you’re planning on doing some hiking in Scotland or the UK then an ‘as accurate as possible’ forecast is definitely ideal. As already mentioned, the forecast will never be 100% accurate and you need to remember this.
The Met Office App, however, hasn’t let me down yet and is what I rely on before I head out to the hills. Sure, it might be off by an hour or so from time to time but this is to be expected. For the most part I haven’t been let down by the app at all.
From a hiker’s point of view, it is definitely the best weather app for the UK because of its accurate forecasts, ease of use, and useful specific location feature.
As always, thanks a lot for reading and if you have any questions or anything to add then please write in the comments box below. 🙂