How to track the weather

Australia has experienced a range of extreme weather in recent months. From catastrophic bushfires and gale-force winds to floods, dust storms and summer hail, it seems like our weather is becoming more and more erratic.

So, if you’re prepping for a weekend away, trying to keep tabs on bushfire risks or simply want to know what the forecast is for the day ahead, we’ve prepared a shortlist of useful weather-related apps you can consider adding to your smartphone to keep you a step ahead.

GENERAL WEATHER APPS

Weatherzone
One of Australia’s most popular weather apps, Weatherzone combines a local focus with extensive data and a stylish interface. Using forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology, plus in-house meteorologists, Weatherzone provides detailed information on both Australian and worldwide weather.

Users can browse real-time data and seven-day forecasts, receive weather warning alerts direct to their device, and check up on everything from temperature to wind and rain predictions. There are also extras such as fire danger ratings, pollen forecasts, UV ratings and snow and ski forecasts, all packaged in a beautiful app featuring user-submitted landscape and sky photography. 

Available on: Google Play, App Store

The Weather Channel
Not only one of the most-watched 24-hour weather networks worldwide, the Weather Channel is also behind the world’s most downloaded weather forecast app. Offering detailed, constantly updated forecasts (with hourly, daily, weekly and fortnightly time frames), The Weather Channel is one of the most comprehensive weather alert apps available.

With an easy to navigate home screen that gives you need-to-know info upfront, the app is perfect for planning your day or week in the great outdoors, and includes weather maps, news, and alerts. Like some other apps on our list, it also offers push notifications to warn of severe weather conditions, allergy risks, and more.

Available on: Google Play, App Store

WEATHER APPS FOR SPECIFIC NEEDS

SunSmart
Designed to protect Aussies from our harsh sun, the SunSmart app has a seamless and interactive user experience from the get-go.

On download, users set up their ‘Sunscreen profile,’selecting their location. This enables the opt-in for UV index alerts. From then on users will see a daily time frame for ‘Sun Protection Recommendations’ , the current UV index and the maximum daily UV.

Another handy feature is the ‘sunscreen calculator’ which indicates the minimum sunscreen requirements for what a person is wearing, gives clothing tips for the day and has the option to remind users to re-apply protection every 2 hours.

Available on: Google Play, App Store

AirVisual
AirVisual is the most comprehensive air quality app available. For many of us, this season may be the first time we are really paying attention to the air quality index. Rather than googling “Sydney air quality” and having to navigate jargon and sometimes clunky mobile sites, AirVisual displays the information you need simply and gives users the option to view a more in-depth analysis. In the ‘Places’ view users can quickly see the real-time air quality, temperature, chance of rain, wind speed and direction in their current location. There are also options to track the air quality index at weekly, daily and,three-hour intervals – all using a colour coding system that is simple to understand.

For those interested, there are opportunities to learn the exact particle polluting their air and to see major global cities ranked by most hazardous air quality. Users can create a free account to receive bespoke air quality alerts, but even without signing up a wealth of information can be accessed, such as health recommendations and pollution exposure tracking.

Available on: Google Play, App Store

If you’re looking for protection against smoke pollution both indoors and out, the tech and gadgets review site Reviews.org has a run-down of the best dust masks and best air purifiers.

EMERGENCY WEATHER APPS

Australian Fires
After a devastating fire season, apps showing fire location and severity have sadly become part of many Australian’s daily lives. Australian Fires offers up-to-date details on blazes across the country. This app is an easy way to keep yourself and your family safe. Fires are clearly marked and other information includes:

  • The exact location of the fire
  • Fire status, type and size
  • Responsible agency
  • Time of the latest update.

Users can view the data using an Apple powered map or in list format. The interface is simple, marking your current location on the map with the ubiquitous blue dot. So, you won’t have to scroll around trying to find yourself – as long as you share your location with the app then you will always be in the know.

Available on: App Store

Plenty of fire response apps have popped up for specific states and territories. Most of them have similar features, but we’ve compiled the best ones below and listed any notable points of difference.

Fires Near Me (NSW)
Fires Near Me is the official NSW Rural Fire Service application and helps users stay up to date on bush fires in NSW. It provides information on incidents across NSW attended by the NSW RFS and other agencies and users can set up ‘Watch Zones’ to receive push notifications about fire incidents in that area.

Available on: Google Play, App Store

secureNT
The secureNT app provides information on preparing for and getting through emergency situations in the Northern Territory. Users can toggle through updates and warnings about fires, extreme weather, health hazards and more. The Incident Map also indicates emergency shelters nearby and gives helpful steps to follow in case of an emergency event.

Available on: App Store

Bushfires in QLD
Bushfires in QLD allows users to access statistics on how many emergency response vehicles are on site and en route to active fires. Users will only be able to see data from the time they download the app so if you downloaded the app to keep tabs on a current active fire be aware that services might be on their way even if the app doesn’t immediately tell you.

Available on: App Store

Alert SA
Alert SA is the official app of the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM). The app displays bushfire warnings and alerts, fire danger ratings and where total fire bans are in effect. Users can also set up ‘Watch Zones’ to receive push notifications about fire incidents in that area.

Available on: Google Play, App Store

Tas Fires
Tasmania doesn’t have any free emergency alert apps. This one will set you back $1.49 which really isn’t much to pay for peace of mind and safety.

Available on: Google Play, App Store

VicEmergency
VicEmergency is the official Victorian Government app for emergency warnings and information. The app allows users to see all emergency works, closures and alerts in the state including fire danger ratings and total fire bans. There is an option to set up ‘Watch Zones’ to receive push notifications about emergency incidents in that area.

Available on: Google Play, App Store

This list was developed with assistance from the team at WhistleOut. If you are interested in discovering additional weather-related apps, such as those focused on wind, snow and surf forecasts, then visit WhistleOut for an extended list.

With the recent fires and floods, are you extra cautious about checking the weather on a regular basis? Have you downloaded any of the apps mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions?

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Written by Kenny McGilvary

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