Best Weather Apps For Boating

Multiple Lightning Strikes at Sea Lightning strikes over the ocean in a bad storm. Photo: Nejron/Pond5.

If you’ve been on the water a while, you’ve likely heard the old adage, “Red skies at night, sailor’s delight. Red skies in morning, sailors take warning.” For ages, recreational boaters and professional mariners have been trained to be keenly aware of weather conditions and know what they mean. In fact, for some, eyeing changes in weather has become another passion.

To help us introduce several useful weather apps, we consulted two of our Boat Trader colleagues: Zack Bower, an experienced boater who has turned weather watching into rewarding volunteer work, and Ryan McVinney who is regularly on the water with boat builders and captains around the country.

First, Bower explained, “A few years ago I became a certified SkyWarn Severe Weather Spotter. SkyWarn is a volunteer network of trained individuals who help relay information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This network plays a key part of informing the severe weather early warning systems and incredibly, there are about 300,000 participants across the United States.”

Whether you are a weekend wanderer of inland lakes, or a seasoned open water cruiser, just like Bower, keeping tabs on the sky is an important part of staying safe in the surf. While he assures us we don’t have to be a certified weather spotter to be fully aware of what’s happening, he admits it is super helpful to have a few advanced weather apps downloaded on our phones to be as informed and as safe as possible out on the water.

Channel your inner meteorologist and check out Bower’s top three suggested weather apps:

RadarScope

This app is focused on weather that is currently happening and does not provide forecasting. However, the radar information it does provide is extraordinary. With a little bit of research and reading, you will have a clear understanding of the data shown and will surely find this app to be extremely useful.

Learn more at RadarScope.app.

Storm Radar

Maybe you already have the Weather Channel app on your phone. Well, Storm Radar is another great spin-off from the Weather.com family of offerings. The app’s radar display is very detailed, plus it includes an hourly lookout. This is especially handy if the skies look like they want to open up with rain, but you’re not really sure.

Learn more at weather.com/apps.

Weather Hunter WX

This app is completely free and loaded with features that other services often charge a premium for. Lightning can strike up to 30 miles outside of a thunderstorm, and Weather Hunter includes a lightning counter option on the radar. That way you know if it is just heavy rain, or something more ominous. There’s also a handy home screen widget that gives current temps, daily forecasts, and a quick link to the radar section.

Learn more at NewWayStormHunter.com.

2 More Weather Apps For Boaters

In addition to Bower’s recommendations, McVinney explained there are two other titans in the industry of mobile weather applications for smart phones that he sees boat captains and sailors using on the water frequently, both to supplement their onboard weather devices and to “glean information more quickly and easily”. Check them out below:

Windy Mobile App

Windy (also known as Windyty) brings you all the world’s leading weather forecasting models – global ECMWF and GFS, local NEMS, AROME and ICON (for Europe) and NAM (for the USA) together in a fast, accurate and intuitive tool for weather forecasting and visualization. This app it trusted by professional boat captains, military and rescue teams, skydivers, surfers, fishermen, weather geeks and storm chasers alike. It is fully-customizable with over 40 maps to choose from, showing everything from wind speed and direction, to rainfall, air temperature, barometric pressure and swell or CAPE index. The global satellite composite is created from NOAA, EUMETSAT and Himawari with image updates every 5-15 minutes, based on the area. Doppler radar covers large parts of Europe, America, Asia, and Australia.

Learn more at Windy.app.

MyRadar Weather App

MyRadar is a fast, easy-to-use, yet powerful weather app that displays animated weather radar in customizable data layers around your current location. Part of what has made the MyRadar weather app so successful over the years is its speed, which allows boaters to quickly and easily see what weather is coming their way. Just start the app, and your location pops up with an animated live radar loop and basic functionality that provides the quickest way to get a fast snapshot of the weather on-the-go.

Learn more at MyRadar.com.

Final Thoughts

These are only a few of the many intelligent weather app tools available for smartphones these days. Check out these and others and keep those props spinning! Want to learn more about how to become a spotter? Visit www.weather.gov/SKYWARN.

Before we wish you fair winds and following seas, did you know that Boat Trader and YachtWorld also have mobile apps? If you’re searching for your next boat or yacht, be sure to visit your favorite app store and download the latest way to browse the largest selection of new and used boat inventory. And if you’re interested in weather apps, you’ll probably want to take a look at other great mobile apps for boating.

For further reading about wind and weather, check out these articles:

Written by: Jennifer Burkett

Jenny is an avid boater who has worked in the marine industry for years. She developed a fondness for trawlers during her tenure at Kadey-Krogen Yachts and has an affinity for life-on-the-water, contributing articles regularly to Boat Trader, YachtWorld and boats.com. Originally from Chicago, she made her way to Maryland to escape the bone-chilling winter temperatures of the Midwest and to be close to the coastline. She's made Kent Island her home—a location that makes enjoying the Chesapeake Bay a part of her daily life.

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