Review of PredictWind App
Pretty Good What You Get for Free
ThePredictWind app for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets is a handy wayfor sailors to stay in touch with the wind and weather. Not long ago you'd tunein NOAA weather radio for the marine forecast covering a large area to receivesomething like this (my own forecast today - compare with PredictWind'sforecast below): "SW WINDS 15 TO 25 KT...INCREASING TO 20 TO 30 KT THISAFTERNOON."
Theforecast above is a good example why sailors need a forecast that is asspecific for their immediate area as possible.
Say it's 10:00 AM and I'm thinking ofgoing sailing for a few hours. A breeze of 15 would be great for my boat:maximum speed without having to reef. But if it hits 20 as soon as I leave thedock, I'd better be reefed down
(and maybe have experienced crew with me, depending on my boat'srig) - and if it's blowing 30 about the time I reach open water, I'd better getback in unless I want a wild, wet ride and crew who can cope with thedifficulty of picking up my mooring once the waves grow in my harbor.
PredictWindgives a forecast for a much more specific area and maps out expected windchanges by the hour. In contrast to the particular NOAA forecast above, I see15 knots at 1 AM today, but by 10:00 AM it's already 22 knots. But it will stayin the low 20s all afternoon, rising over 25 only well after sunset. So I knowto expect a good wind (reef before heading out), but I also know it won't reachthat 30 in my area until midnight, so I'm good to go with my present crew.
That isexactly what PredictWind was designed to do and does best.
Versionreviewed: PredictWind for Android free version 2.1.1Key Features of the Free Version
Tested on Lenovo A1 Tablet running Android 2.3
Available for both Android (1.6 and up) and Apple devices
You beginby choosing your local forecast area. One area is saved in the free version(but it can be changed when you go elsewhere); six in the paid versions. Thenyou get a menu for a variety of specific functions and types of information.
Followingare the basic features in the free version:
· Wind speed and direction forecast hourly for 24 hours (5 days inpaid versions)
· Wind data presented in a variety of visual formats: table,graphs, map animated with wind arrows, animated contour map (see image above)
· Predicted wave height, period, and direction (coastal andoffshore areas) hourly for 24 hours; tabular information and also animatedcontour maps
· Air temperature (over the water - not over land) forecast by hour
· Rainfall and cloud cover forecast by hour (table) or in 3-hourincrements in animated contour map
ThePredictWind website explains that the wind forecast uses their own computermodel based on NOAA and Canadian Meteorological Centre data, and most functionsallow you to compare both to determine which most accurately matches your localobservations. In my testing, the forecasts seemed as accurate as one wouldexpect - subject to the fallibility of all forecasting. (In today's example,given above, the wind actually later hit sustained 33 knots at 3 PM accordingto my local NOAA buoy report - much earlier than in the PredictWind forecastand exceeding the NOAA forecast. One should always be cautious with forecasts!)The Downside
· It would be nice to have help screens on the app deviceexplaining the different data formats and sources. You have to go to thePredictwind.com website presently for this information.
· The time (at top of forecast table) is not seen when you scrolldown to lower-table info, so you have to scroll up and down to see what timeperiods the data refers to.
· Different functions treat time somewhat differently. Forexample, as I write this at 12:30 PM, my forecast table gives a wind forecastby the hour starting at 1 PM today for the 36 hours ahead, but my wind forecastmap animation starts at 4:00 AM this morning and continues for 24 hours, and mywind forecast contour map animation starts at 10 PM last night and goes only to4 PM this afternoon. There must be technical reasons for this, but I find theshifting time frames confusing.Additional Features of the Paid Versions
Unlike most apps with a single price for additional features,PredictWind uses a subscription model. Expanding from a 1-day forecast to a5-day forecast costs $9 for 3 months or $19 for 12 months. In addition, for$5/hour you can obtain weather routing functions, or $5/hour for the tripplanner. It is difficult to know precisely how these last two features functionwithout paying first, as the developer's website
has an altogether different pricing structure for a grid offeatures (called Basic, Standard, and Professional) referring their computerprogram rather than the app.
Since I doubt most recreational sailors need these otherfunctions, I did not investigate them further; I would guess that the NOAA orCMC extended forecasts would be sufficient for most sailors. The upgradeapparently also provides current wind and other observations in addition to theforecast - but this information is already available through other weather apps(such asMarinecast
or Wind NOAA
) or via NOAA buoy reports
obtainable also on your Android or Apple device.
For what it does, the PredictWind free version is a good app forsailors to have in their toolbox, along with a tide and current app,chart navigator, and others
. I especially like the primary tablethat gives the hourly forecast for all relevant weather variables in a clear,quick-glance format, along with the animated contour maps that show changesmoving into the area. Darn good stuff for a free app!
To complement PredictWind’s forecast, check out the free versionof Marine Weather
for both Apple and Android devices, which includes lots ofweather data, tides, radar, and more.
is another effective app for showing wind weather forecasts inyour area. There is a free Android version with limited functionality, but theApple versions cost more than you need to pay for this information.