There are many different weather websites on the Internet - good, bad, and even misleading. Chris Tibbs, a Yachting Monthly meteorologist, explains how to interpret them correctly.
Top 10 Weather Websites
We all collect weather websites with interest and have to rely on them to a greater or lesser extent. As owners and captains of yachts, we are expected to develop a sensible sailing plan every time we leave harbor, and this is certainly a legal requirement. Weather is an essential part of such a plan for any transition, which is why we need to get a weather forecast - by radio, VHF or online, where a huge amount of information is available.
But before you rely on the Internet for this, you should be clear that most of the forecasts presented on weather websites are purely computer generated, and do not include such an important point as the analysis of meteorological data carried out by experienced meteorologists. Many weather web pages on the Internet offer forecasts generated by various algorithms, sometimes significantly different from each other, and this leads to the fact that we can go through page after page until we find a forecast that we just like or which is closer to us. to the heart, because it is less harsh!
It should be understood that purely computer simulation of the weather has not yet reached the level where it can accurately reflect the location of the fronts, their development and movement on the weather map. If the fronts are shown, then this is a good sign - it means that there was an intervention in the program of a person - an experienced meteorologist, who, based on the totality of data and experience, plotted the location of the fronts on the synoptic map and monitors their dynamics. Many forecasts from the Internet can be very specific and, for example, focus on the weather on the shore, giving a fairly accurate result, although the parameters at sea can be completely different.
Therefore, despite the huge amount of information from the Internet, we should treat it only as an aid in making our own decisions. We must continue to be careful about the "official" local forecast, and it would be reckless to sail without reading it.
The Internet works reliably at home or in the office, but with mobile use the picture changes the further we move from the base station, the slower it becomes, with unreliable communication and, in general, more and more expensive. The user becomes constantly preoccupied with the problem - where can you get WiFi?
And yet - what do we want to find, and what do we expect from the forecast from the Internet? The answer varies widely, and mainly depends on the plan of our sailing voyage. It is understood that the forecast required to cross the La Manche, for example, will differ significantly from the data required for a weekend coastal walk in sheltered waters. The decision about what information and in what quantity we need for a particular voyage is very important, and it directly depends on the level of our knowledge of the weather and its forecast. This determines the choice of the source and what we need to download from the Internet.
Choosing the top ten among hundreds of weather sites is difficult. My order of preferences is based on logic that will become clear to you when you take a closer look at the list.
First on my list Metbrief... It is full of various links, in fact it is a weather portal. Currently synoptic and forecast maps are presented on one page, allowing you to scroll through them and follow the forecasted development of the synoptic situation. The maps cover a significant territory (they also capture Ukraine), show areas of high and low pressure and fronts. The isobar step is 4mb. Based on these maps and with some knowledge and experience, you can form a likely picture of what may happen to the weather in the next few days.
Since the above Metbrief site provides fairly large-scale maps, I often refer to the UK Met Office for detailed regional exploration. It provides very accurate short-term forecasts for maritime and inland waters, and has the advantage of incorporating analysis by meteorologists rather than just a computer model of the weather. The maps cover significant regions, therefore, to clarify the local wind, it is necessary to take into account the landscape features - the presence of hills, slopes, cliffs, as well as the degree of protection of harbors, the sea region where we are or which we want to cross, etc. The site also contains a lot of other useful information, although not intended directly for sailboats, but giving good forecasts of what may happen with the weather next. (forecasts for inland and sea waters are compiled by real people in collaboration with computer programs)
3. XC Weather
Even if we already have a weather forecast, it is always useful to know the current conditions, for which XC Weather proves to be a very useful site. Here, on an interactive map, there is a weather report for the entire territory of the country with an indication of weather stations. When you click on any of them, complete information, including the wind forecast, is displayed on the screen. Most of the data relate to land areas, and its effect on wind speed and direction must be taken into account. It is clear that over the sea the wind will be almost twice as strong.
I am a big fan of GRIB files. They download very quickly, even with slow internet connections, and contain, along with a visual image, a number of synoptic variables that can be superimposed on your electronic navigation charts. Yachtsmen are usually limited to variable data for atmospheric pressure, wind speed and precipitation. Having received a picture on the monitor screen, you can clarify information about the weather at a specific point where you hovered the mouse cursor. Forecast maps up to 7 days. Worldwide coverage. The data is generated by a purely computer based weather model and should therefore be used with caution and in conjunction with an official maritime forecast. Grib files are free to download (after free registration), but detailed high-resolution files can be purchased separately.
5. Top Karten
Sometimes we would like to make preliminary planning of a future trip, for which we need a long-term forecast. Of course, we must be clearly aware that the long-term forecast can be inaccurate in detail (and much less often in general). Using the American GFS (global forecast system) forecast model, this German-language site offers a 16-day forecast at 6-hour intervals, and this data can serve as a good basis for planning (one of the many viewing options is pressure isobars and wind speed in knots)
In many regions, local websites maintained by yacht clubs, seaports or local enthusiasts provide information on the current local weather. One such useful site is Bramblemet, which reflects the weather in the Solent Strait region. When in unfamiliar waters, always try to find such independent local sources of weather information. Whatever the overall forecast, local data, especially wind information, will give you more confidence in the question of whether a sail change is needed, or in deciding whether to leave harbor or not.
With so many sources of weather information available, you will probably need help interpreting it correctly. See Frank Singlestone's page. Here you will find a wealth of useful information and interesting facts from experienced meteorologists and boaters to help answer most of the weather questions (Frank Singlestone's website is a valuable resource for boaters with a serious interest in meteorology)
The site provides detailed information on precipitation - both onshore and offshore. Useful for positioning fronts, squalls and showers, as well as predicting and moving them.
If you need to view satellite images (in high resolution), then they can be downloaded from the University of Dundee website. You need to register on the site, but it's free, and you can watch magnificent cloud images transmitted from satellites in both polar and geostationary orbits.
10. Wind guru
The last site in the top ten clearly, in the form of pictures, gives forecasts for the strength and direction of winds, clouds and rains. However, use it with caution, it may not take into account the influence of the coast on the strength and direction of local wind. Wind Guru provides forecasts based on several weather models and covers the entire globe. To access more useful options, a paid (for a very small amount) registration is required (WindGuru is primarily aimed at windsurfers and kite surfers, but is equally useful for yachtsmen)
Speaking in general about the above-presented sources of weather forecasts from the Internet, you need to understand that they will not be more accurate than the official radio forecast. Do not forget that most of the forecasts on the websites are generated by computer programs and are not edited by professional meteorologists. Pay attention to the age of the program, how often it is updated, and do not forget to check the units in which the data is presented. It will be a big surprise if you think of the wind speed in knots while it is in m / s. The difference will be almost doubled in the direction of amplification.
I spent a lot of time on the internet choosing the best sites for me. The ones listed above have become the ones that I refer to most often. They are robust and constantly updated, which is important if you are trying to access information over a slow internet connection.
Of course, you can have your own set of favorite weather sites as long as they work well for you.
From the editor: in the continuation of the article, we give links to resources that are closer to us. We hope this information will be useful and will allow you to get only positive emotions from yachting.
gismeteo.ru , gismeteo.ua - one of the most visited weather sites in Ukraine and Russia. They give forecasts for 3, 5, 10 days and a month. Long-term forecasts are not very reliable. Maps allow you to fairly accurately assess changes in wind and weather for the next two days, no more.
Turkish site Nice and convenient, simple and affordable. Black Sea, Marmara and Aegean Seas (Turkish coast): detailed weather in marinas and at sea (wind, wave height). It is possible to cover the whole Mediterranean region by region.
An Israeli site with fairly accurate forecasts for the Mediterranean Sea, and, of course, the coast of Israel. The ability to get information directly on the map, by double-clicking on the desired point.
Greece - weather forecasts, probability of precipitation, temperature, wind direction and strength, waves and many other necessary and not quite information about the weather.
wetteronline.de Weather, wind, precipitation in Germany and more.
windfinder.com Wind, waves and weather all over the world. Anytime, anywhere!
For kitesurfers, windsurfers, yachtsmen, paragliders and anyone looking for accurate wind data! Forecasts and information about wind and weather! A mobile version is also available.
About the author:
Chris tibbs - a famous yachtsman who sailed over 250,000 miles and made three voyages around the world. With an MSc in Meteorology and a hands-on course in weather forecasting Met Office, now works as a meteorological forecaster and “planner” of yacht courses. Chris also wrote a book RYA Weather Hadbook.
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