For sailors who rely on smartphones, a good weather forecasting app is essential. Intellicast Boating for iPhone and iPad by Weather Services International (WSI) claims to be “the most technically advanced site-specific weather forecasting system in the world today,” and I tend to agree. The app blends advanced weather and forecasting information from the National Weather Sevice (NWS) with regional NOAA charts, based on various preset locations.
Once it’s installed, your iPhone/iPad references your home location. You can add additional locations using cities, zip codes, lat/lon or airport codes. The app then downloads the NOAA chart and NWS information for each location.
You can choose from a menu of map layers, overlays and alerts to superimpose onto these NOAA charts. Each bit of information appears as a uniquely colored area or icon to help you interpret the data. Map layers include radar, satellite, wind speed, air temperature, water temperature and wave height. Overlays display NWS marine forecast, marine observations, tides, storm tracks and tropical tracks. Alert categories include marine, tropical, tornado/severe thunderstorms, flood and winter.
The app also allows you to view other weather information by selecting various menu items. Map, for example, shows the combined NOAA chart, map layer, overlays and alerts; Reports shows nearby buoy data; Alerts displays local NWS bulletins; Now shows temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, and a historical comparison; and Hourly shows a table of weather conditions, wind speed and direction, and temperature. A toolbar allows you to adjust layer transparency, pick a map type or display a compass.
You can gather much of the information on Intellicast Boating via other apps or using a web browser; however, the fact that this app simultaneously displays the information on a single screen overlaid on NOAA charts warrants its high price point ($9.99). The most useful options for boaters include the radar and wind speed map layer; the NWS marine forecast, marine observations and tides overlays; and the marine alerts. At times, the selection of layer elements seemed awkward, and the app could be improved with the inclusion of an hourly wind forecast graph. As is, it’s ambitious and usable, and I give it 4 stars.