The second part of the Apps & co. mini-post-series is about weather. They say weather is an inexact science. My feeling is forecasts for temperature and rain is pretty good, wind forecast seem to belong to a different league entirely, along with it sea state and wind inflicted current.
Note: I am currently using Apple products (iPad 4 WiFi + Cellular and iPhone 5); the user experience may be different on other devices and platforms.
I mainly use 3 sources for weather information, usually at the same time. If they all forecast the same there is a good chance of it being true. Otherwise I plan with the worst-case scenario. Except for once – all apps forecasted around 3-4 bft., we were hit with a solid 7 – this worked well for me.
A very comprehensive app providing costal, marine and station weather reports for Europe. The weather data is coming from official weather services of Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, UK, Croatia, Malta, Sweden and Turkey. Weather maps, forecasts, swell, currents etc. can be downloaded with the push of one button and used offline.
Sea Weather Pro also provides a list of broadcasts times and frequencies for weather reports, unit conversion tools, and many more. You really need to check it yourself to get a grasp on all the functionality.
I mainly use coastal and marine weather and the 3 days forecast published by Marine Weather Service Hamburg (Deutscher Wetterdienst). The official reports are not really granular e.g. “Flensburg to Fehmarn” or “East of Fehmarn to Rügen”. Weather can still vary a lot within the region and throughout the report period. With some experience and observation you get a pretty good idea what is likely to happen though.
In my observation the official German weather reports are usually rather conservative. I often observed a reduced wind strength by ~ 1bft compared to the report.
The app is currently available for: iPad and iPhone
The app contains station reports and forecasts from the Norwegian metrological institute covering Scandinavia, Finland and the northern part of Germany. They have a very nice 10 days forecast including pressure, participation, clouds, wind direction and speed, etc. The next 24 hours are broken down into an hourly resolution.
I found YR.no to be the one most likely to be correct considering the three apps I am using. Compared to the German reports, you usually need to add ~1bft to the forecasted wind strength.
YR.no is my first source of information. It is free, fast, looks nice and easy to use.
The app is currently available for: iPad, iPhone, Android and PCs (website)
Like YR.no, Windfinder provides stations reports with basic weather data worldwide also including significant wave heights. Windfinders target group is surfers, thus its wave height tells you about the waves close to shore. Together with the wind direction one may be derive something for the situation further out from it.
As I said, I use all three of them as pieces of some sort of “weather cross bearing”. The Windfinder app is free and easy to use. That’s why I added it my portfolio of weather apps.
Something different entirely, except it’s also about weather. The website displays the globe with the current high- / low-pressure systems. You can zoom in on specific areas, get details about wind strength and direction.
In a different setting, it displays currents, significant wave heights and time between waves.
It’s very high level but helps me a great deal to understand how weather “works”, how it changes over the seasons. I check it frequently to grasps what the Volvo Ocean racers currently talk about or to see what we can expect when crossing the Atlantic in May.
The apps I use are all good for “coffee sailing”. I would probably use something else for performance based sailing. Maybe even try the weather data with Seapilot, the navigation app I mentioned in the first part of this series.
If you have any further suggestion, you have good experience with other apps or something important is missing in your opinion, please post a comment.
… Part 3 – “Entertainment and others” coming next Friday 19:00 UTC.
PredictWind seems to be a quite good program with freemium plan. Comes from the USA. Haven’t tried so far but that guy did:
… alone around the Americas non stop with an Albin Vega 27!!! including NW passage. Chapeau!