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Old 21-05-2012, 11:19   #1
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Weather Guide Help

As beginner sailors learning all the ins and outs of sailing, one question we have is what are the best online resources for tracking weather along the east coast of north america, south america and the carribbean? We currently use www.wunderground.com, I have to believe there are sites that are suited more to boating. Any advise, please share.

Thank you.
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Old 21-05-2012, 12:54   #2
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Lots of choices for US East Coast, including weather underground and apps like SeaTow and Windfinder (web and app). Further afield I'd splurge for the Sirius Marine Weather which works well into the Caribbean, or I'd get an SSB receiver so as to listen to the weather nets. Lots of the apps are free, so you can try them to see which you like the best.
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Old 31-05-2012, 14:39   #3
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Hello, my choice is passageweather.com set in low bandwidth mode. You simply download tiny zip files and view the slides -dead easy and good all round the world.
but....
i am looking for a similar web facility which has more detail on the north east coast of panama. (the country) The scale on passageweather is too small. Any suggestions? I say this is specifically for the San Blas islands area.
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Old 31-05-2012, 17:49   #4
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Re: Weather Guide Help

To the OP

try the weather faxes

Northwest Atlantic WX Briefing Package

Gulf and Tropical Atlantic WX Briefing Package
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:29   #5
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Re: Weather Guide Help

many thanks, however scouring the NOAA portals i still do not find data relevant to Panama, Central america? any tips or links
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:50   #6
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Phil

Panama and Central America are covered in the second site. Are you looking for more detail? Do you want current data? Forecasts?
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Old 01-06-2012, 08:30   #7
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Re: Weather Guide Help

For the OP - this is where I save all the weather sources I come across. I have not used all of them (but I really like passageweather) and I'm not sure they're all helpful or even active, but you're welcome to browse.
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:21   #8
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Some of the sources being recommended (e.g. passageweather.com, windguru.com, windfinder.com, all the GRIB sources, etc.) are very useful, but it should be noted that they are simply output of one of two global weather forecasting models and haven't had the benefit of any expert human judgement or analysis (other than the inputs). My preference is to look at the NOAA forecasts and wunderground.com, and then study the other sources. I get a lot out of reading the "Discussion" section on the NHC tropical storm pages and Dr. Jeff Masters' analyses on wunderground.com.

The sites that provide graphical model output are helpful in that they provide frequently updated projections and can alert you to what's coming your way, but they take a bit of experience to interpret. The next time there's a tropical storm, take a look at the "Model Forecasts" page on wunderground.com to see how different the results from the various models can be. Then read Dr. Masters' blog and the "Discussion" on the NHC site to get perspective on how the professional meteorologists integrate all the data.
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:36   #9
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Bill Thanks

I might add

www.buoyweather.com
Wind Forecasts by PredictWind.com, The World Leader
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:23   #10
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Re: Weather Guide Help

You can always try Frank Singleton's Weather and Sailing Pages / Franks-Weather | The Weather Window. It may be too European based but I try to give a fair amount of theory with realistic pages on GRIBs.
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Old 11-02-2013, 10:43   #11
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Jackdale, I have SSB and pactor to get weather. Northwest Atlantic WX Briefing Package

Gulf and Tropical Atlantic WX Briefing Package
Are this something I can request over fax or do I need to request each individual graphic. If I can request the group, can you give me the specific on what to put in my request.
Thanks
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Old 11-02-2013, 15:51   #12
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Re: Weather Guide Help

A fundamental rule for all sailors is to ensure that they are able to receive and do receive the relevant GMDSS services – for example those broadcast on VHF, NAVTEX, MF/HF/SSB. Those forecasts are written by National Met Service forecasters such as the US NWS. They will provide information on possible weather hazards. The best sources of these will be the official Met service sites and the JCOMM site. See INMARSAT Forecast texts / Franks-Weather | The Weather Window.

These, although vital to your safety, are not necessarily the most useful. For forward planning, up to 5 or 6 days ahead, a service providing GRIB files from US NOAA GFS will be the most useful. With direct access to the Internet using a PC, zyGrib is the best service with many data options including CAPE, the instability index which should be particularly useful in low latitudes. If you have a Tablet, the Weathertrack, weather4D, PocketGrib all provide much the same data. If bandwidth is a problem, the use email to get GRIBs via Saildocs.

Most GRIB services give forecast out to 8 days. Use the later days – days 6 to 8 with care. If you look at the D+8 on one day, the D+7 on the next and the D+^ on the next their consistency – or inconsistency – will be a good guide to whether the models are on the right lines. It is a kind of poor man’s ensemble.
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Old 11-02-2013, 16:23   #13
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Here is what I use. NOAA's weather page has all the links to their web information. When going coastwise I use the text forecasts and listen to the VHF weather radio during the day. Down in the SW Caribbean I used the NOAA zone forecasts here. They had different zones when I was down there, but I found them to be as good as anything. A lot of folks would talk on the SSB, listen in to nets, get grib files, look at weather faxes, etc., and then they would ask me where I was getting my secret forecasts that were better than all the other nonsense. Personally, I prefer to rely on the pros at NOAA to predict the weather, and they are usually the best.
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Old 11-02-2013, 16:42   #14
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Frank, I have found lots of great information on your site and I agree with all you have said. We do use zyGrib as well as grib files and weatherfax we download via Airmail and now the new RMS Express. I just posted on our blog and listed several of the online resources we use, The Trawler Beach House: Blackwater Sound To Key Biscayne , We are currently sitting at Key Biscayne looking for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas. Thursday is looking good so far based on the information we have gleaned from these sites. We seldom make any decisions based solely on the NWS text forecasts. They can change daily and sometimes a few times a day. we often find the text forecasts and the weatherfax for the same area and period are totally different. I wonder if those guys ever talk to each other. Often we have to collect information from a number of sources and come up with our own forecast. Ours is usually more accurate than any single source we have found including the professionals. A lot of this process is based on info from your website, http://weather.mailasail.com/Franks-Weather/Home . This has served us well not only along the U.S. coasts but throughout the Caribbean. Chuck
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Old 12-02-2013, 03:41   #15
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Re: Weather Guide Help

Hi, Chuck.

Looking at texts of forecasts at Marine Text Forecasts and Products Listing, my overall impression is that they are far too long. Partly this is because they use speeds in knots rather than Beauport forces. You may think BFs are not “scientific” but they are realistic. The wind is never precise; one number gives a meaningful range of speeds. Secondly, American English seems to use longer words then English English. Further, they spend too much time over detailed outlooks for fairly small areas. Over the next few days weather is not as well defined as the areas used.

As an example, a NWS text was

NW WINDS 25 TO 30 KT DIMINISHING TO 20 TO 25 KT. SEAS 6
TO 10 FT SUBSIDING TO 5 TO 8 FT...HIGHEST E.
.TONIGHT...NW WINDS 15 TO 25 KT DIMINISHING TO N TO NW 10 KT OR
LESS. SEAS 2 TO 5 FT..

A UK forecaster, I might have said

NW 6 or 7 decreasing 4 or 5 and backing n to NW 3 at end. Rough becoming slight to moderate.


Within the vagaries of the weather, there is no loss of meaning. There is always a temptation to try and say too much in a forecast. My guidance to my shipping (marine) forecaster was along te lines of only saying as much as you really think that you know. It is too easy, as I saw in the Adriatric, “5 to 15 becoming 6 to 16.” Really!


I assume that all their forecasts are based on the GFS and the NAM with, I would expect, a look at NOGAPS and COAMPS. It would not surprise me if they did not look at ECMWF and the UK models also.

If I were sailing in those waters, I think that I would be looking at NWS texts for the first day, two at most. After that, I would be looking at the GFS. Any other weather site is going to give purely objective forecasts based, almost certainly on the GFS or, possibly, the CMC. I doubt that there is anything to choose between the two of them. There really cannot be any better source of information.
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