If you've got an iPhone and want to know if it's sweater weather or certified coat weather, chances are you use the iPhone Weather app. Then, to figure out whether you need a rain jacket or a full-on umbrella and rain boots, you'll need to decipher the emoji-esque symbols iPhone uses to indicate different weather conditions. If you need to know what all the weather symbols on the iPhone mean, you'll be happy to learn that Apple updated the symbols and what they mean in December.
To use Weather (it's preinstalled on iPhones), type in a city, zip code, or airport location. You'll instantly get the forecast for the day and the following week. You'll get all the expected weather-y info, ranging from high and low temps, sunrise and sunset times, and then, of course, the numbers on rain, humidity, and wind speed. To make your life easier, you then have the weather symbols. But sometimes it can feel like the symbols make it harder than it should be to figure out whether (and how much) it's going to snow. You think you have life figured out because a cloud with snowflakes is obviously a weather icon that indicates snow; but then you spot a symbol that's a cloud with a snowflake and lines, and suddenly, nothing makes sense anymore. What does it all mean?
Just like the iPhone's face emoji, we need a little help clearing things up (*ahem* I'm looking at you, "information desk person" emoji). If you need some clarification, here's how Apple labels each weather icon — all 23 of them.
Gibberish? Naw, it's the iPhone weather app symbols. Let's discuss. One would be excused for confusing showers with heavy showers, considering they're almost identical. They contain the same number of rain-y lines, but the heavy showers icon has longer lines, which — outside of iPhone speak — means "a bonkers amount of rain," as opposed to "just some rain." Of course, none of this is to be confused with drizzles or hail mixed with rain — which could mean the difference between nothing more than a bad hair day, and a black eye due to hard objects falling from the clouds. Capisce?
Revisiting the snow clouds, you'll see the cloud with snowflakes indicates scattered snow. The cloud with a snowflake and lines, however, means heavy snow/sleet — not, as I initially thought, snow that was falling really, really fast.
If trying to decode all the icons on iPhone's weather app has got you sweating up your own rain shower, rest assured there are other apps you can download to see if they better suit your style. The Weather Channel has its own app, as does the NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. There are countless other weather apps — many for free — although they largely have less notable names. Download and consult at your own risk of getting rained on.
In the meantime, pack a warm jacket. And an umbrella. And sunblock. And boots. Just to be safe.
This article was originally published on