There is an app (or 10) for everything it seems. So it can be tough to narrow down which ones are best for any given purpose.
There are basically four categories of paddleboarding apps that can come in very handy
- Weather apps-provide hugely important information about wind speeds and directions, impending bad weather, etc
- Tide apps so you know what is happening with tides and currents that might affect your paddle.
(We will look at these in a future post)
- Tracking apps will help you keep track of distance, your route, your speed, the time you are on the water
- Map apps
First and foremost if you are bringing your phone paddling with you, you need a good dry case and a way to secure it. Don’t rely on a lanyard around your neck if your case doesn’t float (and most of them don’t float). It can slip off of your neck if you fall in the water, and your phone can very easily sink before you even realize it is missing.
Second, don’t rely solely on your phone having service where you are going to paddle either. You should check all of these things in advance just in case.
Now that we have those little PSA’s out of the way,
There are general weather apps and more specific ones that provide information such as wind maps showing speeds and direction, lightning finders, and buoy data.
NOAA Hi-Def Radar provides general weather information for what is going on right now, and it has a good radar program that will show unsettled weather in the area and it has the option to turn on lightning strikes to detect any of those nearby (and hint…if it detects any, don’t get on the water! You should wait until there are no strikes for 30 minutes before paddling). There is also an add-on for tide charts and tables. So you can get pretty much all of it right here.
Wunderground is another all around weather app that provides a great deal of information. I find the format a little bit distracting but know a fair number of people who like this option.
The Weather Channel is an ‘ol standby. It’s the app I go to most often, but it’s often disappointing from an accuracy standpoint. Every time I get stuck in winds blowing in a different direction than forecast, I remind myself not to use this one any more, but then I do anyway. At least it usually gets the temperature right.
It’s not a bad idea to have your weather app alert you if there is severe weather abound if you are going out in anything questionable, or in the case of those pop up summer thunderstorms.
Once you have a general overview of the weather, wind apps can be helpful in giving you a preview of what the wind is going to do to you on the water.
My favorite is Windfinder. It contains a lot of information. You will see general weather, windspeed, direction, and gusts. There is also information about tide times and heights, and wave heights. It is an easy interface to choose your location. Selecting “near me” will give you more information than if you select a location “by windspeed”. But it is easier than some to choose your location and view the information.
Predict wind is another option. It is very simple to read since it’s a lot of arrows pointing in various directions indicating windspeed by their color and direction by the way they point. It automatically scrolls through a forecast and I find it hard to pinpoint the window of time that you want to see the data for. I would like a little more control over the data that I am seeing so this is not my preference, but it is an easy interface to get an “at a glance” picture of what’s going on. In order to pinpoint things better, you need to upgrade the app.
Wind Alert provides a lot of info at a glance too. It features a graph with all of the usual data, wind speed, direction, tide, time, weather, etc. But one drawback is that it doesn’t give you a lot of options for locations by name (it will only list some locations by coordinates). We have a number of launch spots in a relatively small area and it helps to know by name that I have selected the proper one. The weather on each side of a couple of big islands in our bay can vary, and it’s important to have the right data for the one you are paddling in. And the tiny, horizontal graph is a little tougher to see in a hurry.
Data from Buoys can also be helpful and the app Buoy Data will give you that. You can select your buoy of interest, or search nearby ones. You will get wind speed, direction, and gust information for that specific buoy. It also gives you the air temperature and the water temperature along with barometric pressure. And there is a link right into the app to get you to the NOAA Marine Forecast for that area.
Tides have a different impact on different areas, but it is a good idea to know if you are dealing with high or low tide when you go out, and to know if the tide is on the way in or out. As mentioned, there are a couple of apps above that will give you this data, and there are also specific tide apps.
Tide Chart is probably my favorite tide app. It shows high and low tide with tide heights, moon phases, sunrise and sunset, and a calendar with moon phases that is easy to click on to see the tide information for a specific day. This chart format is very easy to read and provides a good amount of information at a glance.
Tides Near Me shows nearby tides’, high and low times, sunrise and sunset times. It also provides information about currents which is also valuable information to have.
Tides USA is very simple. And if you are in an area with daylight savings time, you may need to do a little math to figure out when your low and high tides are.
Of course knowing what the weather is doing at a specific point in time is not the same as understanding how it impacts your paddle. So it’s important to learn how these things all affect the areas where you paddle.
It should go without saying that you cannot rely solely on apps to keep you safe on your paddle. But referring to them should be part of your pre-paddle routine (and if conditions are changing, it can be helpful to refer to them while you are out to understand what is going on). You can glean a lot of information from these and similar apps, and if you know how to use that information it can make the difference between having a great paddle, and putting yourself in an unsafe situation.
Tags: paddle boarding into the wind, paddleboarding in windy conditions, weather and paddleboarding, paddle boarding and the weather, paddleboard weather, paddleboarding weather considerations, paddleboard apps, paddleboarding checklist, for paddleboarding