In early 2018, a follower asked me “ what app do you use to forecast the weather for Buzzards Bay? I answered him via a story called You Don’t Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows.
In the past few weeks I’ve been ask the same question several times and I realize that my “go to” apps aren’t the same as they were in 2018, so here’s an update.
The Best Wind and Wave Modeler
A few months ago I discovered an app called PredictWind…
If I only had one weather app for Buzzards Bay, this would be the one. Not only does it provide wind speed and wave height forecasts, but it gives you those forecasts from the 4 major wind modeling organizations in the world.
PredictWind Atmospheric Models
From the PredictWind website…
PWG is PredictWind weather model that uses the NCEP global initial conditions for the model run. This model is unique and proprietary to PredictWind.PWE
PWE is the PredictWind weather model that uses the ECMWF global initial conditions for the model run. This model is unique and proprietary to PredictWind.ECMWF
The ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) model is highly regarded by Meteorologists and top Navigators around the world. The ECMWF HRES model consistently rates as the top global weather model from a national weather service with the highest rating scores. In March 2016 ECMWF increased the resolution of their model to a record breaking 9km resolution, which is currently the highest resolution global model available. ECMWF data has a very high acquisition cost, and this is why the data is not widely used by many weather websites, and has been traditionally used only by top yacht racing teams and meteorologists.GFS
The GFS (Global Forecast System) Model from NCEP is the most widely used data source as it is free of cost, and a good model. The models is run at 27km resolution globally, which is not enough resolution to predict local geographically and thermal effects such as sea breezes.
As I’ll cover in a moment, I find triangulation to be the best way to get a truly accurate forecast and the fact that PredictWind has 4 unique weather modelers is fantastic.
Here are a few of the reports I like in PredictWind…
As you can see, you can toggle forward in time and date in every model and condition.
Weather Radar (NOAA)
I mentioned triangulation earlier and that’s why I use 6 different weather apps. When I look ahead and see that everyone is predicting the same conditions, I feel confident that I know what’s coming.
When I see a lot of divergence I assume the worst and hope for the best.
Weather Radar is a full forecast app that’s based on NOAA data. You can find it in the Apple App Store with this symbol…
I seldom use the daily forecast, but almost always check the Wind Chart before heading to sea…
I like the way the graph lays out both wind speed and direction in a single view.
10 years ago the best marine forecast came from the NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Association) website. The problem then, and probably now, is that it took some digging to find the page with Buzzards Bay on it.
Nowadays everyone heads to sea with a smart phone or a tablet that always seem to know our identity and physical location. This means the NOAA Marine Forecast app always opens to the right place.
You may think that since much of the data in these apps comes from somewhere inside NOAA that they’d always report the same forecast. I’d think so too, but they don’t.
Still, the old mariner in me likes to see the “Official Marine Forecast” and factor it into my triangulation process.
This is not really a marine weather app, but it’s a very rich app in terms of forecast details and both long and near term forecasting.
I have found the Minutecast to be very accurate when I find myself sitting on Vigilant in the rain and I’m trying to figure out when they’ll be a break so I can run to a restaurant.
I also like the hour-by-hour wind and precipitation forecast as well as the long term view – which goes out as far as 25 days in the premium version.
Probably the most important piece of data when it comes to triangulating is to know the actual conditions at sea. I can then compare it to the current forecast and essentially judge the forecast as optimistic or pessimistic.
In case you didn’t know it, your government operates a number of smart buoys (NDBC Buoy Stations) around the country that report reasonably current conditions. The Buoycast app allows regular folks like us to access this data.
NECN is a local NBC cable channel in Boston.
I love the app for its radar, which has a one click option to see the last couple hours actual or next few hours animated.
By the way, the radar modeler works everywhere, not just the Boston area.
I also like being able to watch the latest TV report in a couple of clicks.
NECN is a true New England channel and they do a great job covering Buzzards Bay as well as New Hampshire and Vermont.
Buzzards Bay is probably one of the trickiest spots on earth for weather forecasting, but I have to say that over the past few years – triangulating with all these apps, I finally feel 90% confident about what I’m going to face heading to sea.
Just don’t forget about the other 10%, those whacky and sometime dangerous storms that pop out of nowhere like the hail and 40 knot winds that slammed us on a beautiful day in Edgartown earlier this year…
We had at best 5 minutes warning this was coming and the only reason we stayed dry was because I felt a sudden temperature drop and happened to glace north to see the ominous skies…
Sometimes your eyes and natural senses are the best weather app you have, so stay alert!
Categories: Better Boating