News & Events for Chesapeake Bay
Weather App Shootout – Last Round and Summary
Date Posted: 2018-07-02
Source: Robert Sherer, contributing editor
Editor’s Note: Predicting weather and interpreting data from the numerous computer models used by meteorologists is tricky business. Added to that is the way in which various weather apps present information along with the timing of their updates. In this review of five weather apps - PocketGrib, PredictWind, Ventusky, Windy and Windfinder Pro - Contributing Editor Bob Sherer conducted a simple evaluation based on his experience on a particularly windy day.
We’re on our approach to the Atlantic City, NJ inlet and the winds are piping up. I’m seeing 15 to 18 kts out of the north on the nose when it was predicted to be around 10 kts out of the south. So, we bounce around the inlet and eventually tie up at the Golden Nugget marina. The winds are howling! There was no storm, no rain, just wind. Let’s see if any of the weather apps predicted these winds!
I took this photo of my Multifunctional Display at the helm just after we docked when the winds had increased even more!
As usual, PocketGrib is first. I made this screen shot as when I was seeing the 26.3 kts at the helm! I didn’t take any screenshots of the apps before I left Cape May since they all predicted calm winds out of the south or even dying winds. PocketGrib strikes out here!
How did Windy do? Again, this prediction was for noon and was downloaded 12:08. A big miss here. That purple area shows winds less than 5 kts! Remember, I’m seeing 27 kts at the helm in a marina while this prediction is being made.
Continuing, let’s see how Ventusky does. I should only be seeing 3 kts when I’m actually seeing 27 kts! Another whiff as they say in baseball!
How about Windfinder. It’s another prediction of 5 kts, whiff!
Finally, let’s see what PredictWind has to say about this. It’s another miss, folks! It’s kind of interesting that it shows very high winds in Long Island Sound. They are supposed to move down the coast later tonight. It looks like the shift in winds arrived early and none of the weather apps caught the change. I’m missing NOAA in all of this since I didn’t expect such variable weather.
The score for this round is Weather 1, Weather Apps 0. I guess you could call it a tie since they all struck out. The previous leg down Delaware Bay was ho-hum. All apps predicted light winds and all apps were correct. The trip up the New Jersey coast was a repeat, all the apps predicted the same light winds, so I didn’t include those two legs in the ratings.
So how did the weather apps do overall? Let’s look at the scores from all four tests.
There is still not enough data for a definitive rating, but we'll go with what we have. I would put the top three in the same group. That’s PredictWind, Windy, and Windfinder. More data is really needed to separate them on prediction accuracy. NOAA Coastal fits pretty well in the middle with Ventusky and my formerly beloved PocketGrib bringing up the rear.
I plan on repeating the tests in the fall with my next trip down the ICW and I’ll add a few more apps in the mix. If you have any suggestions for more apps, let me know.