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Thread: Good Sources for Short-term Wind Predictions in Santa Monica Bay

  1. #1
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    Good Sources for Short-term Wind Predictions in Santa Monica Bay

    Christian recently provided a helpful overview of the general seasonal variation in wind in another forum, but I would like to know whether any sailors in the Santa Monica Bay recommend any particular sources for predictions. I am familiar with the regular afternoon westerly we get in the summer, so it's possible that my problem getting a reasonably accurate forecast is confined to these shifty winter conditions. I accept that the answer might be that there is no answer.

    I'm most focused on the accuracy of predictions about 18-24 hours ahead of the mid-day or afternoon time one wants to sail, because that's when your friends would like to be notified. But even morning predictions for later the same day would be great.

    I have been using PredictWind, Windfinder, Windy, and SailFlow. If the prediction is for 10kt or more, I don't care about the details and will go sailing. But often it seems the predictions are for 5-6 kt but when one actually goes down and takes a look, there's fine sailing at 8-12 kt. The knot difference is small, but the sailing difference is big.

    Windfinder gives me the readings from the anemometer atop the UCLA Marina boathouse, but often its predictions for that same spot are significantly off from its actual real-time measurements (even when the "prediction" is for now!)

    Predictwind has lately been frequently predicting nearly calm conditions outside Marina del Rey, when reality gives you 8+ knots.

    On the flip side, the Coast Guard's recent small craft advisories and some of the wind predictions during Santa Ana events have kept me home, but when I examine the actual wind in real time, it's not bad at all and could have been a great day of sailing.

    Is the only answer to move to the Marina and look out at the water to decide whether you want to sail? That seems expensive. I am only 10 miles inland, but the palm trees in Midcity LA are not reliable indicators of ocean conditions.
    Roger Janeway - "Nora J" - 1986 E26-2 hull #257 - Westerbeke 10 Two - Marina del Rey, CA

  2. #2
    Principal Partner Keith Parcells's Avatar
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    Roger,

    For all marine weather on the California coast, I always use the NOAA marine weather website. Unfortunately, though, it is a victim of government closure:

    https://governmentshutdown.noaa.gov

    Argh!
    Keith Parcells
    1983 E-33
    Hull #24
    Rocinante

  3. #3
    Principal Partner Keith Parcells's Avatar
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    Perhaps try the app which is called “Windy”

    See Latitude 38 magazine, November 2018, page 88 for recommended apps for wind & weather

    https://www.latitude38.com/wp-conten.../L38201811.pdf
    Keith Parcells
    1983 E-33
    Hull #24
    Rocinante

  4. #4
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    when I examine the actual wind in real time, it's not bad at all and could have been a great day of sailing.

    That's been my experience, too. So I go and it usually works out. Only once did we have to retreat, and that was when five guests arrived at the boat in a downpour. We went to dinner instead. They had all said but the forecast is for rain, heavy rain! and of course I had said, do you not think that I, possessed of so much experience both of heaven and of earth, would lead you mortals wrong?
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  5. #5
    Principal Partner Tom Metzger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Janeway View Post
    I am only 10 miles inland, but the palm trees in Midcity LA are not reliable indicators of ocean conditions.
    Only ten miles? Hop on your bike and go (I assume that's the fastest way Midcity LA). BTW, it's warm, so who gives a sh*t if there is wind? As one great man once wrote, maybe more than once, "The difference between a sailboat and a power boat? On a powerboat you rush to get somewhere. On a sailboat, you're already there."

    This from the perception of someone who boats in the frozen northeast.
    Tom Metzger
    E-34 Xanthus

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Metzger View Post
    . . . On a sailboat, you're already there."
    I like that sentiment but when there's no wind I don't want to be there.

    I grew up trying to catch extremely light bursts of wind on very flat water -- Long Island Sound, Cape Cod, Penobscot Bay -- and that can be fun, but it's less fun when there's an ocean swell slatting your boat around.

    But I am certainly not complaining about having to choose on a winter day in Los Angeles between sailing and skiing.

    We have a well-deserved bad reputation for traffic, but mid-day it's 20 minutes to the Marina by car, and 40 by bike. Returning home in afternoon traffic, it's 40 minutes by either method, but one method is a lot warmer.
    Roger Janeway - "Nora J" - 1986 E26-2 hull #257 - Westerbeke 10 Two - Marina del Rey, CA

  7. #7
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Janeway View Post
    I have been using PredictWind, Windfinder, Windy, and SailFlow.
    I'm not in Santa Monica Bay, but.... overall, I've had good results from an app called "weathertrack". (it's available in the Apple app-store, I assume so in the android app-stores as well)

    In essence it allows you to download a grib file for an area you specify - you can select from a catalog, or define an area using an interactive map, zooming in or out as suits your need.

    When you've downloaded the grib, you can view predictions for wind, surface pressure, precipitation, cloud cover, air temp, probably some other stuff

    Here's a screen-shot of the predicted wind for tomorrow afternoon...and a second one showing a more "zoomed in" view.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    $.02
    Bruce
    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

  8. #8
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Any micro-forecast is up to the skipper. No product can offer accurate prediction of the area three square miles off the Marina breakwater. But on the whole it is the predictable 5-10 knots in winter, absent a front or Santa Ana.

    Of course, the "10 knots" may come only between 3:11 p.m. and 4:39 p.m.

    You sort of have to be there, as bad jokes say.
    Last edited by Christian Williams; 01-09-2019 at 09:29 AM.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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