Weather Prediction Tools

Weather drives every voyage departure decision we make.   We discovered that many boaters are unaware of the weather tools available to the general public for free or a minimal subscription pricing.    We educate and inform boaters – that are interested, on the sites we use and how to read the information.  It isn’t difficult to understand, but a little insight goes a long way into understanding how the information can be of use.

To be certain, our selected sites, are a few among many.  However, we have had success and have confidence – in general, with the information produced.  It is as good as is possible considering the nature of weather.  The best scenario is that as potentially good weather draws near, the different weather services agree.  It doesn’t always happen that way.

A good example was  Spring 2010, when we were planning our departure of the Columbia River, headed toward our summer cruising grounds north.  None of the services agreed, with forecasts from excellent to “no-go”.  Okay, fine.  Which one do we trust?  We went – the bar was no problem, but the ocean was a mess with very disorganized waves which created a washing machine effect.  We turned around, went back across the bar and waited one day.  The next day was great.

Another contradictory example was the fall of 2011.  We were in Cabo San Lucas and planned to cross the Sea of Cortez.  That morning we downloaded all our favorite weather sites.  All of them agreed it would be flat with no wind. We had time to make it into Banderas Bay before weather set in.  On that occasion it was never flat – even on departure.  It built throughout the day and stayed up until morning the next day.  We changed course to keep the weather on our stern.  Landing in Mazatlan, instead of Banderas Bay.

Buoy Weather

We subscribe to Buoy Weather.   You can view it at no charge – two days at a time.  We pay for the service and get a 7 day forecast.  You can create virtual buoys, anywhere in the world, and get a forecast based on the location.  They offer email updates, if desired.

I think it will become obvious, when you look at the report, that we not going  anytime soon – as in the coming week.
Home The Global Marine Forecasting Solution

Marine Forecast for 46.25º N / 124.25º W

“Astoria”

greenflag.gif Conditions suitable for most marine activities
yellowflag.gif Caution. Small craft advisory
redflag.gif Hazardous conditions. Use extreme caution

7 Day Marine Forecast

Model Cycle 2010 APR 24 06Z Time Zone: GMT – 7 Hours

Saturday 4/24

Morning redflag.gif
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Large long period swell.
Winds: WSW 14 to 19 knots
Seas: WNW 13 feet at 13 sec.
Afternoon redflag.gif
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Very large long period swell.
Winds: WSW 11 to 15 knots
Seas: W 15 feet at 13 sec.
Sunday 4/25

Morning redflag.gif
Light winds with a slight chop. Large long period swell.
Winds: SE 6 to 8 knots
Seas: WNW 10 feet at 12 sec.
Afternoon yellowflag.gif
Light and variable winds with smooth seas. Moderate long period swell.
Winds: SW 2 to 3 knots
Seas: W 8 feet at 11 sec.
Monday 4/26

Morning redflag.gif
Gale warning with dangerous seas. Small craft advisory. Use extreme caution. Moderate long period swell.
Winds: SSE 26 to 35 knots
Seas: W 8 feet at 12 sec.
Afternoon redflag.gif
Very windy with large choppy seas. Small craft advisory. Large long period swell.
Winds: S 24 to 32 knots
Seas: WSW 15 feet at 11 sec.
Tuesday 4/27

Morning redflag.gif
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Large long period swell.
Winds: SW 14 to 19 knots
Seas: WSW 12 feet at 10 sec.
Afternoon redflag.gif
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Large long period swell.
Winds: WSW 13 to 18 knots
Seas: WSW 12 feet at 10 sec.
Wednesday 4/28

Morning redflag.gif
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Large long period swell.
Winds: WSW 11 to 14 knots
Seas: W 13 feet at 13 sec.
Afternoon redflag.gif
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Large long period swell.
Winds: WNW 13 to 17 knots
Seas: W 14 feet at 12 sec.
Thursday 4/29

Morning redflag.gif
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Large long period swell.
Winds: SW 12 to 16 knots
Seas: W 11 feet at 11 sec.
Afternoon redflag.gif
Windy conditions with choppy seas. Small craft advisory. Large long period swell.
Winds: SSW 19 to 26 knots
Seas: W 10 feet at 11 sec.

Wind & Wave Forecast

Sat
24
5am
Sat
24
11am
Sat
24
5pm
Sat
24
11pm
Sun
25
5am
Sun
25
11am
Sun
25
5pm
Sun
25
11pm
Mon
26
5am
Mon
26
11am
Mon
26
5pm
Mon
26
11pm
Tue
27
5am
Tue
27
11am
Tue
27
5pm
Tue
27
11pm
Wed
28
5am
Wed
28
11am
Wed
28
5pm
Wed
28
11pm
Thu
29
5am
Thu
29
11am
Thu
29
5pm
Thu
29
11pm
Fri
30
5am
Fri
30
11am
Fri
30
5pm
Fri
30
11pm
avgpeakwindFT.gif
18
13
19
14
15
11
8
6
7
5
8
6
3
2
10
7
22
16
35
26
32
24
20
15
19
14
19
14
18
13
19
14
18
13
14
11
17
13
15
11
12
9
16
12
26
19
23
17
20
15
22
16
19
14
15
11
dir.gif WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
SE.gif
SE
SE.gif
SE
SW.gif
SW
SSW.gif
SSW
SSE.gif
SSE
SSE.gif
SSE
S.gif
S
SSW.gif
SSW
WSW.gif
WSW
SW.gif
SW
WSW.gif
WSW
SW.gif
SW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
W.gif
W
SW.gif
SW
SSW.gif
SSW
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
NW.gif
NW
avgpeakhtFT.gif
12
9.4
17
13
20
15
18
14
16
12
13
10
11
8.3
7.8
6
6
4.6
9.9
7.6
19
15
19
15
17
13
16
12
15
12
15
11
15
12
17
13
18
14
17
13
16
12
14
11
13
10
13
9.9
12
9.3
16
12
21
16
20
15
per.gif 14 13 13 13 12 12 11 11 11 12 11 11 11 10 10 11 11 13 12 12 12 11 11 11 10 10 14 13
dir.gif WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
W.gif
W
WNW.gif
WNW
W.gif
W
WNW.gif
WNW
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
WSW.gif
WSW
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
W.gif
W
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW
WNW.gif
WNW

I like this service because it is very visual and easy to understand.  It becomes very clear if it is a “Go” , or “No Go”  day.

National Weather Service – NOAA Marine Forecast

This link at NWS Marine Forecast gives a text description of the forecast.

US Navy Mil Weather – Unclassified

This public site  US Navy site – FNMOC WXMAP gives data up to 180 hours out.

Choose from the top section “Global Models”/East Pacific/NGP.

Select “FNMOC Wave Watch 3 Sig Wave Heights..”,

then “Loop” at the end of the row.

There is no loop until all the time periods are green dotted out to 180 hours.    It runs in a very colorful loop over the 180 hour period.  Both wind and wave heights are displayed.   This is the tool we use to get our hopes up, as it shows potential good weather the furthest time out.   However, much can happen between now and 180 hours in the future.  It still gives us our best look at potential “go” conditions.  Black is best and the darker blues are very nice – though we might entertain conditions in the lighter blue colors, depending on wind and how long the conditions are forecast to last.

NOAA Marine Radiofax

Weather Radiofax Charts. This is the same information that is transmitted via high frequency out at sea – many boats receive this information via a HF Radiofax Machine.  We pull our information from the Point Reyes site for the west coast. Bruce looks at the Wind/Wave and Surface charts. When we are south of the American border he uses the Tropical Analysis. You can pull information from current time out to 96 hours. Choose the GIF option.

Passage Weather

[Added in 2010] Passage Weather.  This option can be viewed through a loop also.  You get Wave Height, Wind direction, and Pressure.  All these can be downloaded and saved for future reference.  *This was our favored tool while crossing the Sea of Cortez in 2010/11.  It helped having the details to available for review later when we had no internet connectivity.

Real Time Buoy Conditions

There are websites that give real-time  information from ocean buoys.   You can call the NDBC buoy – by phone, for current conditions, or go online.  This is a good way to see if what the forecasters is saying is happening – is really happening.  So, for instance,when underway we checked the buoys up ahead of us to see if the conditions were as forecast.  One other site is Combined Current/Wave Buoy Conditions and gives a visual quick look.

As I mentioned earlier, that are many more sites than the ones we use.  We have boating friends that use other services and find they fit their needs.  The important thing is get the information, then make your voyaging plan.

Be safe and enjoy the voyage!

 

4 thoughts on “Weather Prediction Tools

  1. Also might want to check out:
    Magicseaweed.com
    Sailflow.com
    passageweather.com

    Are you headed to Mexico?

    We will be come October for another seven month tour.

    Tom & Joanne

  2. sorry to hear that you’re still stuck in the River, be patient and before long you’ll be making that turn North…or is it South…have you even decided??? Keep us posted and safe travels!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s