"Marine Weather Right Now" app would seem perfectly designed for sailors and other boaters who need only a quick snapshot of air, wind, and water conditions before heading out. Unlike MarineCast, this free app doesn't overwhelm you with data - it just tells you the marine conditions nearby to your position as identified by your device.
But you may have serious doubts about the accuracy of this information from an unknown source. Read on.
Version reviewed: 1.13 for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad - free
Not available for Android at this time
What It Does
Once you've allowed the app to use your present location, assuming you have connectivity, it locates a nearby "marine" and provides a set of the following information:
- Swell height, direction, and period
- Air temperature and pressure
- Wind speed and direction
- Cloud cover, visibility, humidity
- Water temperature
You can also see the nearest "marine" located on a Google map and your own location.
Since the app's name is "Marine Weather Right Now," you naturally assume you're looking at present conditions. But this app seems to have serious issues regarding when - and where - those conditions are, as noted below.
The two big issues here are when and where are the conditions you observe on the data screen.
While you might assume these conditions are now, check the date and time at the top of the screen. On my device, at least, the right date comes up, but the time always starts at 0000. In most circumstances that means midnight, or 00:00 hours in military time. So are the conditions shown for now or for the start of this date? More confusing, you can tap the time and then set the time to any 3-hour interval in the 2400 military clock. And when you set it to the present time, say 1500 if it is now 3 PM, the conditions shown on the data screen change. So does that mean that when I first turned it on, the weather "right now" was actually last night midnight? And when I scroll the time ahead to the real now and the conditions change, has the app actually gone back to the weather source site to update the data - or is it all working off an hour-by-hour forecast for the day? After all, if I set the time ahead to tonight, it still gives me new data - which means it does seem to forecast. So can I trust the "right now" bit at all?
More unknown is the source of the data. In my own location in the U.S. I can access online weather and marine conditions from the National Weather Service, several well-known commercial weather sites, and NOAA automated marine buoy reports. I checked all of these in an effort to determine what data source was being used in this app - and none of these weather data sources agreed very perfectly with the data the app was showing me. (To be fair, they don't agree very perfectly with each other either.) So can I trust the data I'm seeing? Especially if I don't know whether it is actually being measured right now or is based on an earlier forecast that might now have come true?
The map location of the so-called "marine" identified by the app as the weather source is no help in my case. It pinpoints a residential neighborhood nearby that is close but not on the water. I have no idea what this means.
The questions above illustrate well the importance of knowing the source and trustworthiness of data from any app you're using for boating. This could be a matter of safety, more than just a convenience. While these issues remain, I would recommend not using the "Marine Weather Right Now" app.
If MarineCast has too much information for your tastes, check out the free version of Marine Weather for both Apple and Android devices, which also includes tides, radar, and more, or try Wind NOAA for a quick view of just the current wind conditions. For navigation and other kinds of sailing apps, check out these best apps for sailing.
Note: I wrote the app developer with these questions and learned that the weather data source is an entity called World Weather Online, easily found online, that claims to produce its own weather and forecast models. I was unable to determine the source of their data on ocean swells and so on but continue to note their data for my own area is not consistent with NOAA buoy data, which I have come to trust. The app developer did not clarify the issue of whether the "right now" conditions shown by the app are actually observed conditions or forecast by a model.