Whether you're a seasoned paddle boarder or a beginner, having the right information can make a big difference in planning an ideal outing. In this article, we will introduce you to essential phone apps and websites that will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about wind patterns, tides, marine forecasts, surf conditions, and river levels.
Windfinder is an excellent tool for understanding wind patterns at the time and location of your outing. Unlike many apps and websites that only provide wind speed and direction, Windfinder presents the wind pattern graphically, making it easy to comprehend. It also allows you to check the wind for specific locations using an interactive map. With a time slider, you can see how the wind speed and direction change throughout the day, helping you decide whether to paddle at a particular location and time, or choose the most favorable time based on wind conditions. This tool can also help predict wind direction shifts, so you know which way to paddle to avoid battling against the wind on your return.
Here is an example of how a wind forecast looks on Windfinder:
The Tides Charts app stands out from other tide prediction apps and websites due to its map search feature. Instead of using a text box to search for tide information at a location, simply click on a pin on the interactive map to access the tide data. Knowing high and low tide times can help you predict the current direction at different times of the day, allowing you to plan your paddle outing around tide changes and maximize your distance with minimal effort.
If you are paddling on an inlet or any body of water that is subject to ocean tides, knowing the times of high and low tides allows you to predict the direction of the current at different times of day. This can help in planning a paddle, as you’ll know when the current will be helping to propel you and when it will be working against your forward progress. If you want to cover the most distance with the least effort, you can use this information to time your outing around a tide change so that you are paddling with the current on the way out and paddling back when the current switches direction.
Marine Weather, an app currently available on iPhones and iOS devices, allows you to check overall conditions at ocean, bay, and great lake paddling locations in the US. Tap on a buoy icon on the interactive map to get a concise synopsis of the wind, weather, and wave height at your chosen location, helping you determine if conditions will be calm or choppy.
Tip: Although the main purpose of this app is for marine forecasting, it has an unexpected usefulness for regular weather forecasting. If you tap on an inland area on the map, it will give you a brief one-sentence weather summary for each day in the forecast. For example, if you click on the map in your local area, you’ll get a forecast in this general format: “Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 62. South wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph”. This is useful for getting a description of the forecasted weather that is more concise and descriptive than most weather apps provide.
For current and aspiring paddle surfers, Surfline is a website that provides real-time information on the latest wave conditions at designated surf spots around the world. The website uses meteorological data to predict when and where good surfing waves will pop up. The site also has a network of cameras in the United States that allow surfers to view the actual current conditions of the waves at some popular local surfing spots.
To get a surf forecast for a particular spot, you can enter the name of the location in a search box, or you can click on the Forecast menu and drill down by country, state, and locality to find locations that you might not know by name.
The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service provides river level forecasts for designated locations within the US. If you paddle on rivers where the water level significantly affects the paddling conditions, this is an essential site to check before heading out. Knowing the river level helps you determine if the current or expected conditions are appropriate for your skill level or intended activity.
Zoom in on the map to your desired location and click on the green dot representing the nearest gauge. This will display a graph showing current river levels and predictions for the next 7 days. To make the best use of this data, familiarize yourself with typical levels and conditions in the river locations where you want to paddle, and the hazards and required skill levels at the various levels. Until you have gained some experience on a particular stretch of river, you should get informed on the significance of various river levels by consulting experienced paddlers.
The apps and websites we've discussed in this article will greatly enhance your paddle boarding outings by providing vital information about wind patterns, tides, marine forecasts, surf conditions and river levels. By utilizing these resources, you can make informed decisions about when and where to paddle, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience tailored to your skill level and the specific conditions of your chosen location. Equip yourself with these essential tools, and you'll be well-prepared for your next paddle boarding adventure.
Pumped Up SUP is an online store specializing in high-performance inflatable stand up paddle boards and accessories. We're always happy to answer your questions - just give us a call at 1-877-777-1769.
Check out our 2023 Inflatable Paddle Board Buying Guide or A Beginner's Guide To Choosing A Paddle Board where we further discuss board uses and shapes, features and accessories that are essential to your SUP experience.
The Pumped Up SUP SUP Paddle Blog is the best resource on the internet for up to date information to help with your next inflatable SUP purchase!