Op-Ed: The Best Sources for Weather Information


Edan Zinn

Young uses Tropical Tidbits and AccuWeather for weather information. Photo illustration by Edan Zinn ’23.

Michael Young, Journalist

It is always important to know the weather, especially during the winter season. Many people use weather apps such as AccuWeather to see the forecast.

However, these apps often use data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service (NWS). At the end of this line are the models, which are computer-generated forecasts that predict precipitation, cyclones, and fronts, and much in between.

NWS publishes this data as well, through various branches such as the National Hurricane Center, Weather Prediction Center, and Climate Prediction Center.

Personally, I use AccuWeather to see the current conditions, as I find the radar and temperature graphs to be useful.

But when it comes to looking at storms in advance, I use models, most of which come from a weather-nerd’s paradise: Tropical Tidbits. There, one can find understandable forecasts for tropical, subtropical and extratropical storms.

However, the models are imperfect. When something is forecasted by the models in far-out runs, over a week away, its very possible it never happens. But the closer to the present the model forecast is, the more accurate it is.

There is no perfect weather app, model, or forecast. While it might say that it is 33°F outside, that temperature is usually for the entire town, and not a specific area.

The NWS is generally the best source to see the potential impacts of an incoming storm or weather event on one’s area. However, weather apps use information from the NWS in their apps.

If I had to choose the best weather app, I wouldn’t be able to give an answer. Many times my own knowledge of the way system moves can triumph over AccuWeather’s forecasts.

In conclusion, there is no perfect weather app, and just like the news, it is important to use multiple forecasts rather than just relying on one.