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1/12/2022 2:13 am  #1


​Ten Excellent Weather Resources for Boaters

Ten Excellent Weather Resources for Boaters

All safety experts will tell you that checking the weather before you go out on your boat is always a good idea. I'm no expert, but I have to agree with the premise: you never know. Checking the weather ahead of time will give you an idea of whether a late-day squall or dense fog is on its way.

I've compiled a list of some of the best weather tools available online or as a smartphone app, in no particular order. I've listed what you can expect to find on each weather site under each tool. I hope this helps you choose one, two, or more weather resources that are right for you, and if you already have some favourites, perhaps there are a few more you should consider.

Accuweather

You can get your area's current, hourly, weekend, extended, and monthly forecasts right here. It also shows the chances of precipitation over a 24-hour period in 3-hour increments. Maps are also available for:

Zoomable radar feeds from the United States
Satellite feeds from the United States with zoom capabilities that show cloud cover
Severe weather forecasts for the United States, complete with zoom capabilities and a legend. It also displays the frequency of lightning strikes.
News and videos of national interest to the United States, as well as a hurricane centre with a map and the most up-to-date tracking information.
current global sea surface temperatures
Aside from that, AccuWeather offers a free app download for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android that includes today's local forecast, a 15-day forecast, a satellite map, videos, and more. For boaters who own a smartphone, this is an excellent weather resource.

The Weather Network

This website provides daily and hourly updates.

National, regional, and local weather forecasts for the United States
Temperature, wind speed and direction, wave height and direction, sea surface temperature, sea state (calm, choppy, etc.), relative humidity, visibility, and other parameters are included in marine forecasts.
Maps depicting the current temperature and weather in the United States, as well as Doppler radar, infrared satellite, and severe weather alerts. All maps are interactive and will take you to your current location's weather conditions.
Aside: The Weather Channel app is available for iPhone, Blackberry, and Android smartphones and is free. It includes current, hourly, 36-hour, and 10-day forecasts, beach forecasts, a satellite weather map of your area, severe weather reports, and a "must see video" centre. Another excellent weather app for boaters with smartphones.

Wunderground

Simply enter a location to get current/basic local weather information.

A click on Maps and Radar will provide you with information and data on:

Weather fronts in the United States are causing severe weather alerts and warnings in your area.
NEXRAD animated radar readings for the United States, Canada, and Australia, including storm tracks, total precipitation, and severe weather satellite images of national and local cloud cover marine forecasts worldwide, including water temperatures, wave heights, and wind speeds.
Aside: Wunderground has a free iPhone app called Weather Quickie, but it's not as comprehensive as the website and shouldn't be relied on for boating forecasts.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

This is possibly the most comprehensive weather website available. You can get your basic weekly weather forecast by selecting a location. Weather maps with Radar and Satellite images can be found further down the page. There is one.

Severe weather and flash flood warnings are shown on a regional radar map.
Map of satellite images of the continental United States (color enhanced)
Further down the page, you'll find the National Digital Forecast Database, which displays weather data graphically as follows:

a Hazardous Weather Report for the reported area an Hourly Weather Graph indicating 24 hours of temperature, wind, wind gusts, sky cover, heat index, potential thunderstorms, and precipitation
To the left of the National Digital Forecast Database are two maps, one for Temperature Forecast and the other for Forecast Database Map, where you can look up local and regional graphical displays of today's, tonight's, and tomorrow's:

Precipitation possibility temperature dew point wind speed and direction wind gusts sky cover relative humidity apparent temperature
Aside: The NOAA's Weather Alert USA app for the iPhone has received positive reviews. It currently costs $3.99 as of this writing.

NOAA Marine Weather

This website provides forecasts for the following zones:

North Atlantic, Northeast Pacific, and Southeast Pacific
The Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Tropical Atlantic
Alaska, the North Pacific, and the Central Pacific
You can view daily within each zone.

Upper air charts, wind, wave, and surface charts, typhoon, high wind, and wave charts using satellite technology
NOAA Center for Hurricane Research

If you're interested in tracking hurricanes, this website has a wealth of information:

a map of active tropical storms, tracking information and analysis, hurricane awareness, and general hurricane information, including a briefing on topics such as preparedness, storm surges, FAQs about hurricanes and tropical weather, and forecast models
Weather During the Passage

Offshore mariners will find this site's 7-day wind and weather forecasts useful. The forecast charts cover every region of the globe and include maps that show:

10 miles above sea level surface winds visibility cloud cover precipitation wave height and direction
Other Weather Apps for Smartphones to Consider:

Weather Bug for iPhone, Blackberry, and Android devices. It's free and entertaining.

Temperature, wind speed and direction, wind gusts, high and low temperatures for the day, wind chill, humidity, dew point, and alerts are all current conditions.
the weekly forecast an infrared satellite map of local conditions videos on the national weather outlook
Aside: This is the most popular weather app for smartphones, as well as the most versatile. And the price is unbeatable.

WeatherRadar for the iPhone. Provides immediate base reflectivity radar, global weather radar, and cloud cover over a street-only map, a street-and-satellite map, or a satellite-only map. This app only displays radar; no other weather information is available, but it does display real-time radar, which is a big plus. As of this writing, the app costs $2.99.

Boat Load is an iPhone app. Get a real-time weather forecast in any of 42,000 cities in the United States, with hourly, 36-hour, and 7-day forecasts for any area you choose. It also contains information that a boater might find useful, such as the location of marinas, ports, and supplies. Tidal information, as well as the ability to file a float plan or send an emergency alert, are also available. As of this writing, the download cost $4.99.

So there you have it: ten trustworthy resources for coastal and marine weather. I believe they are among the best available, with the exception of weather on GPS, which can cost upwards of $500 for a unit with radar and more than $20 per month for the service. These ten websites are free, as are the Accuweather, The Weather Channel, Weather Quickie, and Weather Bug weather apps. If it works on your smartphone, it can certainly work for you; it's certainly worth the time of a quick download. A quick check of any of these weather resources could keep you and your passengers safe and prevent you from encountering some predictable, forecasted bad weather that would undoubtedly ruin an otherwise perfect day on the water.

Do you enjoy boating? Do you remember your first year in that bigger boat? Lubber's Log is a humorous boating journal and adventure storey about the author's first time preparing, maintaining, and piloting a larger vessel. You'll be right there at the helm, in the cockpit, in the cabin, and on the water with the author and his wife. If you've never been there before, the author will take you along for the ride, and if you have, you'll undoubtedly recall and relate to the mistakes and joys of those new, exhilarating experiences.

 

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