This post will go over how to read a wind forecast for Tampa Bay. St Petersburg is an awesome location for kiteboarding because there is always a place to go for every wind direction. Reading a wind forecast is important for maximizing one’s days on the water. Our go-to forecasting site is iKitesurf. We recommend bookmarking that page or downloading the app.
If you want $20 off on the Pro membership here is the link: http://ikitesurf.com/KSP
The option we prefer to look at is Live Wind from iKitesurf’s homepage. Under Live Wind, enter your area’s zipcode. The page should look like as follows:
This page shows a live version of the wind. The yellow and white arrows indicate the direction the wind is blowing. There are live lines that move in a direction that the wind is blowing. For example, if the lines are moving to the left, the wind is an east wind. In this situation we would choose a place like East Beach or East Skyway to kiteboard. We always want wind that will blow us back to the beach.
Next to the yellow and white sensors are a number. That number indicates the wind strength. The standard unit of measure is mph or kts. In some instances, people choose kph. The conversion of mph to kph is 1.6. So, 20 kph looks windy but is only 12mph. We need at least 11mph to go kiteboarding. The yellow sensors are only available in the plus and gold memberships in iKitesurf. If you plan on getting into kiteboarding we highly recommend the plus subscription. There are times when the forecast shows no wind but the live sensors show good winds.
Reading the Forecast
Use either the Skyway Bridge or Egmont-Fort Desoto sensor to check the wind. You can use the Lassing-Tampa Bay sensor but you will be disappointed in the forecast. Skyway Bridge and Egmont-Fort Desoto will show a higher wind forecast than Lassing-Tampa Bay sensor and are more accurate. Keep in mind the forecast constantly changes. Do not look at the wind seven days out thinking that is what the wind will be. 8 out of 10 times it will be completely different. The forecast is most accurate within four days. Even then it can change by the hour.
Choosing the Best Model
An awesome feature of iKitesurf is that they provide multiple different forecast models on the same page. There are two options to look at, iKitesurf Free Forecast and iKitesurf Plus Forecast. The “plus” forecast only goes about 12 hours out but is in our experience the most accurate. There are certain times and wind directions that it is not 100% accurate but for the most part it is reliable. One separating feature of the iKitesurf Plus Forecast is that it can predict sea breezes better than most other forecast models. We have logged more hours on the water because we trusted the iKitesurf Plus Forecast and our knowledge of local wind trends.
A strategy we use is to cross-reference forecast models. We’ll cross-reference the Quicklook free model with the Quicklook Plus. If there is discrepancy between the models we’ll reference iKitesurf 2km model under iKitesurf Plus Forecast. To get an even better idea we’ll refer to Windfinder, Windy and Baynews 9 Marine forecast. Each wind direction has a pattern about the wind that we use to apply to our forecasting. Years of experience kiteboarding and studying the wind in Tampa Bay has helped give us a good insight to when it will be windy.
iKitesurf provides additional resources such as a marine report and a pro forecast from a local meteorologist. To find these resources, scroll down below the iKitesurf Plus Forecast section. These additional resources help provides a better depiction of what the wind will do.