Jan. 28, 2014 at 9:22 AM ET
In case you haven't noticed, it is very, very cold across most of the United States. Near the Great Lakes, the wind chill approached 50 degrees below zero. Even Southern states like North Carolina and Louisiana could see snow this week.
Weather this extreme requires preparation beyond just slipping on wool socks. A good app could prevent you from driving out in a snowstorm or planning an event on a brutally cold weekend. Here is a look at some of the top weather apps out there for your smartphone.
Relaunched on Monday by Forecast, this app promises to predict rain or snow "down to the minute" and warn users when a storm is coming close to their exact location. Initially focused on short-term, hyperlocal warnings, the app has been expanded to include 24-hour and seven-day forecasts, plus a real-time weather radar that lets users pinch and zoom across the globe.
iOS and Android, Free
Weather Underground gained a following by crowdsourcing its weather predictions from more than 20,000 stations run by professionals and amateurs alike. Since being sold to The Weather Channel Companies (which is partly owned by NBC Universal) in 2012, it hasn't changed much, still offering forecasts based on local data. Users can expect extras like video forecasts and the extremely detailed WunderMap, which displays the temperature at each individual weather station.
iOS and Android, Free
Yahoo actually makes one of the more attractive weather apps on the market. Its secret? A clear, simple interface that matches weather conditions with relevant photos from Flickr, which it owns. For example, if a user in New York City opens the app on a rainy day, he or she could see the temperature displayed over a picture of Manhattan during a downpour.
An attractive interface with animated graphics has made this a popular Android download, which provides hourly and seven-day forecasts along with radar maps, local weather alerts and widgets for your smartphone or tablet. This is a good choice for someone who wants a stylish alternative to the other free weather apps out there.
Windows Phone, $1.99
Borrowing design cues from Windows 8, Weather Flow lets users customize live tiles on their screen, giving them the ability to do things like display the temperature from different cities all at once or show the current, hourly and weekly forecasts at the same time. Don't feel like signing into the app? Just pin a tile featuring the weather in your current city to your start screen.
Haze doesn't provide much more data than other weather apps, but it sure looks pretty doing it. The colorful design and fluid animations are meant to display only the minimum amount of information needed —until a swipe, tug or scroll reveals other things like the five-day forecast, sunrise and sunset times or whether it's raining or snowing outside.
Keith Wagstaff writes about technology for NBC News. He previously covered the tech beat for TIME's Techland and wrote about politics as a staff writer at TheWeek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @kwagstaff and reach him by email at: Keith.Wagstaff@nbcuni.com