Need help visualizing currents? You might want to consider Windy. It’s an app that allows you to visualize weather forecasts. Most people know it for “seeing” wind. The app is available for iOS and Android, and you can also go to their website.
Just recently, though, I discovered that you can see ocean currents on Windy in high detail. You can see the big picture, as in the image above, and you can also zoom in to see details in a smaller area.
Additionally, you can click on a location to drop a pin there, showing the current direction and speed.
Currents do change location over time, so it’s smart to check the currents before any trip. I know that the Gulf Stream can run anywhere from 5 to 40 miles off the Florida Keys!
Find the Currents Feature
To get to Currents, click on More Layers at the main menu. Go down quite a ways to find Currents. If you want to add Currents to your main menu, slide the toggle switch. To just see the currents, click on the little boat next to the word Currents.
If you added Currents to your main menu, it’ll now be available to just click on in your menu — you won’t have to go through the whole list. And now you have visualizing currents options right at your finger tips.
Other Windy Features
Windy is a great tool for “seeing” what the weather is doing. It has both a free and paid version; I’ve always found the free version had everything I needed.
Before heading out on a trip — even just an afternoon — it’s a good idea to check the following:
- Wind direction and speed. Look at all the models available at the bottom right.
- Wind gusts.
- Currents. Not only will currents slow you down, but wind against current will make the water very rough.
- Waves. If the wave height in feet is close to the wave period in seconds, it’s going to be very rough. You want the wave period in seconds to be at least twice as large as the wave hieght in feet.
- Swell. If it’s from a different direction than the waves, you’ll have confused seas.
- Rain and lightning.
- If in an area with lots of fog, visability.
Windy is constantly adding new features and improving others. Periodically check what new layers may be available.
Overall, Windy is a great tool to help in your passage planning, both for your route and the go/no go decision. But remember — it’s just one tool, and only as good as the underlying forecasts.
Always check other sources that are based on different underlying forecast models. It isn’t really checking another source to simply check one of the forecasts that Windy relies on but in text format. One is text and one is visual, but the information they are conveying is the same!