Our Favorite Website for Wind Forecasts
Windy.com is a really awesome interactive website for wind forecasts. It’s easy to use – you just zoom in to the area you are interested in and click on the map and it will tell you the current wind speed and direction.
For a forecast, click on the yellow/orange (i don’t know, I’m color blind) down arrow next to the wind speed.
The default forecast model is from the ECMWF (the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather). If you use this and weather.gov, you’re already using two wind forecast models and you are off to a great start.
But here is where you can really get into the nitty-gritty of wind forecasts if you want to have the best possible understanding of what the wind might be like on your next trip: down at the bottom, find the area where you can change to GFS, METEOBLUE, NAM, or click “compare” and you can look at all 4 models at once.
In short, GFS is the model provided by NOAA that most weather apps use. METEOBLUE is a Swiss model, and NAM is another NOAA model. All of these have benefits and drawbacks and you can read about if you click “compare” and then look all the way on the right.
Last, but definitely important, scroll out a bit on the map. Down at the bottom, above the forecast details, there is a horizontal bar where you can click to change the day and time.
Click on the time and day when you are planning on adventuring, and take a closer look at the map.
Is the wind pattern consistent over a huge area? Or are you in a smaller, calm “bubble”?
If you are in a smaller bubble, be aware that the wind forecast is probably less dependable. In extreme cases there can be small areas of calm with nearby areas of extreme wind, and it makes forecasting very difficult. But if the wind pattern is the same over a huge area, its likely to be more dependable.
The best possible situation is to have all four models be consistent, and a mild forecast that is consistent across a huge area. If that’s the case, I’m going halibut fishing!
It might seem excessive to look at four wind models, but if it is the day before you are planning on going offshore on the ocean or have some other reason to really want to study the wind forecast, it can’t hurt to compare several models to see if they are in agreement.
Play around with Windy.com, and you’ll surely become better at understanding wind patterns and forecasts.