What Do The Symbols On The iPhone Weather App Mean? Apple Finally Decoded Them For Everyone

If you've ever used iPhone's weather app, you know there is an array of emoji-esque symbols available to describe a number of weather conditions. Similar to many emojis themselves, though, it's sometimes difficult to know what all the weather symbols on the iPhone mean. Apple is here to clear it up, though: they offer a handy chart on their support website clarifying what each symbol stands for.

The app, rather unappreciated, is truly helpful. Type in a city, zip code, or airport location, and instantly get the forecast for not just the day, but the next week plus. They'll give you information like the high and low temperatures, the times of sunrise and sunset, the chance of rain, humidity, and wind speed and direction. Then, you have the weather symbols. You think you have life figured out because a cloud with snowflakes obvi 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 some of the iPhone's emojis, we need a little help clearing things up (*ahem* I'm looking at you, "information desk person" who is also apparently carrying an invisible tray, even though that's not how any of us use that emoji). If you need some clarification, here's how Apple labels each weather icon — all 25 of them.


Hieroglyphics? 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 — in 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. Capiche?

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.

People have questioned the meaning of the icons in the past, and the iPhone's weather app has often been a target of criticism for a lack of clarity and inaccurate reporting — although, to be fair, on their support page, Apple says their information comes from The Weather Channel. They even offer a button that will take you straight to their source. So, what I mean to say is... blame The Weather Channel.



While Apple borrows from The Weather Channel, it appears as though The Weather Channel may be borrowing as well — from the government-run U.S. National Weather Service. According to Randal Olson, Lead Data Scientist at Life Epigenetics, Inc., the NWS does most of the grunt work, and commercial companies like The Weather Channel simply take that information and try to make it better.

So, there you have it. If your iPhone's weather app is off, blame the U.S. National Weather Service.

In all seriousness, will any weather app ever be 100 percent accurate? Probs not. But this is certainly better than nothing.

If trying to decode all the icons on iPhone's weather app has your knickers in a twist, rest assured there are other apps you can download to see if they better suit your style. The Weather Channel has their 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.

In the meantime, pack a warm jacket. And an umbrella. And sunblock. And boots. Just to be safe.