Looking for some apps to help with your sailing adventures? Well, here are a few weather apps that I have started playing with recently…
SailFlow – Over 50,000 Weather Stations worldwide, which provide you with real time wind data. Nelson and Kootenay Lake are included in their data (although it seems to be off sometimes), but it provides a good idea of what you’ll be dealing with out on the Lake. There appears to only be one weather station reporting in the area so the quality and accuracy of the wind forecasting is lacking, however that seems to be an issue in the Kootenays in general. The coastal forecasting through SailFlow appears to be more accurate with about 15 weather stations reporting trends and supplying data.
Weather Bug – The WeatherBug app is a must-have! You get a lot of information with this app, especially considering that it is free. The information provided includes wind direction and speed, air quality advisories and UV rays, closest lightning strike withing 30 minutes, and radar maps of rain and cloud coverage. There are several maps that you can look at for precipitation and incoming weather. The wind meter also seems to be fairly accurate and the forecasting appears to be a bit better than some of the other apps I have used.
SailGrib – According to their website, the SailGrib app will provide you with Marine Weather forecasts, you can calculate tides, download of purchase marine charts, optimize your routes using the weather routing module, or just enjoy sailing towards your destination with the AIS and NMEA modules. Now, all that being said, they do not offer any reporting for the Kootenays on their free app. I did not purchase the $55.00 app to see if it has more information for the Interior. It may. If you have this app please let me know!
AccuWeather – The AccuWeather app looks and performs much the same as the Weather Network app. However, I only downloaded and used the free version so perhaps the paid version offers more options. I am not thinking it is really worth having both apps on your device. If I had to chose, I would probably go with the Weather Network as the AccuWeather app kept thinking I was located in Slocan Park and not Nelson.
PredictWind – So this is another popular app in the sailing world and once again it does not provide any data for the Kootenays. It is primarily for coastal cruising. However, if you decide to venture out on the Coast this would be a handy app to have on your devices. It is free, but you will have to register and set up an account with them. There seems to be a lot of weather stations available, so I would assume it has good accuracy.
There are also several websites that you can use to keep an eye on the weather. One of my favourites for the Kootenays is TMTV.net. They have created a website that pulls together various resources for us to find in one place and use to make an educated decision about the upcoming weather. The links to the airport and highway cams are also nice as you can then take a real time look at the clouds and figure out what is headed your way.
Another great website for information is Passageweather.com. Again this is a very popular website among sailors as it provides various types of maps for you to use (wind and waves, sea temperatures, precipitation, etc.). This site provides coastal weather information, so again not particularly useful for the Interior, but it is still a great resource to help you learn how to properly read these maps for future trips.
Overall, using several resources to compile your weather data is your best bet. Take the various pieces that are provided to you and fit them together to make your assessments on where you are wanting to go and what the weather will look like on your way there. Have fun exploring!