Yesterday a weather system brought gale force winds through my area. I was happy not to be sailing, though it was warm enough on this rare New England day in March, as it was blowing hard enough by noon to overturn my full cup of coffee as I sat at a picnic table overlooking my still-empty harbor. Out of curiosity I'd checked the NOAA wind prediction earlier that morning: looked like 30+ knots somewhere nearby, somewhere in the latter half of the day.
But NOAA's forecasts tend toward generality and cover a wide area and time frame, so many sailors are using more sophisticated software and other sources of weather data. One simple one that is both free and easy to use on any Apple or Android smartphone or tablet is PredictWind, which gives hourly forecast data for more specific areas. The app's screen shot above shows the gale force winds (dark red blobs) as they passed in the night. Good to know where not to be!