best wind data for kiteboard travel
Better than any kiteboard, weather, or travel site? YES. How? See below…
(article still in draft)
We’ll try to keep this brief but informative. When looking at wind statistics to plan a kiteboarding trip, you generally view one of two types of data
Historical “forecasted” wind - Most common; these represent what wind models “forecasted” happened, not what actually happened.
Historical “realized” wind - Less common; these represent what was realized at a specific spot.
Both can reliable. Both can be completely inaccurate.
1 - Historical Forecasted Wind
Wind forecasts generally cover a broad area and are denoted by a letter/number combination, for example WRF8, GFS27, NAM12, ICON13. The number represents the area or grid that a forecast covers, whereas the letters represent the wind model.
Why can wind forecasts be misleading? The winds that we often kite and rely on are frequently “localized winds” that aren’t captured well by these forecasts. You’ve probably heard of Thermals (aka “sea breeze”, when midday the land gets hotter then water) and Venturis (valley and mountain breeze). These are both common localized wind patterns that we kiteboard on. There are also region specific localized winds; Chinook, Norte, Levant, Mistral, are some of the more commonly known (and kited) ones.
Thermal winds are often present in areas from <10km - 50km, and a thermal wind is strongest along the shoreline, where we kite. A forecast on the other hand covers a larger region, and represents the “average” wind for the broad region. Because of this, forecasts do not accurately capture the strength of localized winds, the winds we kite on!
On the other hand, “major” wind systems (easterlies, westerlies, trade winds) are much larger and generally captured well by forecasts. Consider a few regions for perspective:
Easterlies and trade winds are dominant in the Caribbean. Wind forecasts and historical wind statistics are relatively accurate and helpful to plan a kiteboard trip.
Thermals are dominant in Ceara Brazil, less dominant (but prevalent) on the east coast of Canada and the US. Here forecasts generally under-represent the wind (Brazil) or can be completely misleading as to the best seasons to kite (Canada & US).
Fortunately weather stations and wind meters can accurately measure the wind, but they too are wrong just as often as they are right
2 - Historical Realized Wind
Whether it’s a kite specific site (ex -ikitesurf) or a broader weather platform (ex- weather underground), weather stations and wind meters are increasingly prevalent. They have the ability to provide the most accurate wind data.
The problem, they rarely do! Why?
Often installed on houses or buildings where wind can be heavily distorted.
Professional weather stations are often installed on the water or shoreline. These are generally accurate. But these represent a small fraction of weather stations and wind meters. Most are on personal structures that are exposed to significant turbulence. Don’t believe us? Go to your favorite platform and compare a few wind meters in the same area!
Rarely maintained properly.
These increasingly cheap devices are exposed to significant weather and require maintenance. Do you think your average home or kiteshop owner wants to climb onto the roof every month to maintain a weather station? Probably not.
The best wind statistics to plan a kiteboarding trip, @ripatrip
If you’re reading this, you’ve come to the right place. Our wind data isn’t perfect, but we’re confident it’s more reliable than any other source. How do we create better wind data than the biggest weather and kite sites?
We analyze both of the above mentioned sources of wind data alongside knowledge of major and localized wind systems
We extract information from other sources of unstructured data (forums, social media, etc)
We build collective intelligence from the community (100+ contributors and growing!)
The output of the above is either mathematical or mental models of historical wind. In some regions there’s extensive quality data (North America, Western Europe), and in others there’s less (Indonesia, South America). We’re constantly improving our data; it will always evolve.
Also, we’re big fans of many of the wind & weather platforms.. Some of our picks are below. What we’ve done requires a ton of work and most platforms can’t rationalize doing this. Building better data and search is our 100% focus, so we’re happy to lead this effort!
Why all this work?
When you only have 1-2 weeks a year to travel for kiteboarding, you want to go somewhere windy. We’ve been on trips where we expected consistent wind and then only kiteboarded 3/7 days. It sucks, particularly when the average kite trip costs over $2000. While we can’t control the wind, we can choose where we travel to.
Also keep in mind that the less windy a place is, the higher the variance of wind. For example, in Ceara Brazil >95% of the days in the fall are windy. One year it may be 93%, the other 97%. Regardless, you’ll be kiting. But in a different place that has 70% windy days, still considered to be quite windy, the variance can be much higher. In one year you could only have 50% of the days be windy, whereas in another it may be 90% (averaging to 70%).
Keep in mind that the less windy a place is, the higher the variance of wind. For example, in Ceara Brazil ~95% of the days in the fall are windy. One year it may be 93%, the other 97%. Regardless, you’ll be kiting. But in another place that has 70% windy days, still considered to be quite windy, the variance can be much higher. In one year you could only have 50% of the days be windy, whereas in another it may be 90% (averaging to 70%).
How do we predict a thermal wind to go kiting on? Whether it’s sunny or not is the biggest factor, however unfortunately there are other factors (ex - pressure) that also can be significant. We’ll discuss these in another post.
Want real-time forecasts? Unfortunately, that’s beyond our scope. Some of our picks for wind and weather:
Dark Sky - Our favorite all-around weather app
Winguru - The name says it all