Monday, July 29, 2013

App you need: WindAlert

What's the one thing a sailor absolutely needs (well besides a boat, of course)?


So we've got NOAA providing both forecasts and current conditions, but at widely separated points.  And here in Puget Sound, wind conditions can vary mightily over short distances because of our terrain.

We also have wind reports from our ferries, which I mentioned earlier.

And now there is an iPhone (and other iDevices) and Android app that gives yet another window onto the wind...  WindAlert.  That link takes you to a web version of WindAlert, which is also available.  For the mobile app, search iTunes or aTunes (or whatever the Android users app store is) for WindAlert. 

I need to tell you that tho I will be showing pictures from the Puget Sound area, WindAlert is a world-wide system.  You can just as easily get wind reports for Boston, Beijing, or Grenada.

The first of the two primary functions that we use aboard Eolian is the 'Reports' function.  There are a lot more weather stations  shown here than for any other system we've looked at.  And if you want even more, you can subscribe to WindAlert's 'FreePlus' or 'Pro' services.  But we are parasites - we're using the completely free version (yes, there are ads, so I guess its not completely free).  There is also a RADAR overlay being shown in the picture, but you don't see anything because there is nothing on the RADAR right now.  If you click on any of the stations, you get a chart that shows the past readings in graphical form, and forecasts for wind, temp, waves, etc. for this station.

The second and perhaps more interesting function that we use is the 'Forecast' function.  Here I've moved our point of view up to Point Wilson so that I can show how the wind makes the corner from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and down into Admiralty Inlet.  Wind speeds are color-coded, here showing predicted wind speeds of 5-10 knots.  Predictions are made for every three hours out at least to the next 90 hours (I got tired of hitting the right arrow key.  Forecasts out this far are of dwindling value anyway...).  Now this is a lot more information that you get by listening to the weather channel on the VHF (but you should do that too).

Should you have this app?  Can you ever have too much weather information?


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