How reliable are the local (zip code searched) wind speed readings on I get the impression the actual wind conditions on my local lake sometimes vary significantly from the NOAA wind speed readings. In my case, the weather station is probably 10 miles away from my lake. My assumption is that unless you live near a weather station, the NOAA readings are not very applicable to your area. Have others come to the same conclusion as me?



Wind speed and direction…
are going to be very dependent on local geography and structures. Trees, buildings, open fields, flat water, etc. will all have an effect on the local micro-climate. You can use the NOAA station’s wind readings from 10 miles away as a general indication of windiness, but I wouldn’t rely on it specifically for the local conditions at a lake you plan to paddle.

Maybe do a Google search to see if there are any amateur mini weather stations online that are closer to the lake.

Haven’t noticed big discrepencies

– Last Updated: Dec-30-14 8:49 PM EST –

I use Weather Underground (out of habit, not because I think it's any better than some other source), and I really haven't noticed any wind-speed discrepancies. I don't know for sure that the reported speed is accurate, but I do know that for any speed they report, what I experience will seem "about right". Even for locations that are 50 or 100 miles away, there's often no reason to zero-in for a closer reporting station (that will make a difference when new weather is moving in or when rain storms are passing through, but not usually in other situations).

I did notice for quite a while that one local Weather Underground data site would consistently report a wind speed that was slower than what the speed seemed to be in actuality, but that seemed to be due to a faulty measuring instrument rather than geographical variation (the wind speed would still seem pretty consistent from one place to another).

By chance are you just noting the difference between ground-level wind speed amongst the buildings in town compared to that on a large body of water? There will usually be a difference in that case, but I don't consider that to have anything to do with distance from the reporting site or anything like that (the same thing would happen if the body of water were located anywhere else).


– Last Updated: Dec-30-14 8:58 PM EST –

lake wind Google, a raft of suggestions appears as the topic/subject/experience is a major boating factor.

A major siting factor in choosing housing.

NOAA is accurate. On Juan de Fuca NOAA yields to Canada. But correct nuancing of the forecast involves local experience as the forecasts are generally for local use by people understanding what the forecast means.

If you find this amusing then you are on the way to understanding NOAA weather forecasts.

there is a wonderful story in Sea Kayaker abt a group heading around the point in South America or nearby where the group asked for advice.

The group was told of probable wind.

Big diffferences
and they are all caused by local conditions. Ergo I use the wind forecasts for an idea of what could go wrong.

Lake Superior is a prime example of local conditions. I do know that there is a great program that predicts local phenomena and I have to ask David Wells of Naturally Superior Adventures what he uses. He showed me once.

Not that any program helps me when on the water with no communication for two weeks.

Wind Varies, and Gusts, too.
While hiking across the Olympic Peninsula this summer I came upon an area of perhaps a couple hundred acres, where every tree was lying down, and all in the same direction. Nobody said so, but my guess was a little derecho hit that hillside and knocked down everything in it’s path. Yet on both sides of the devastated area, all the trees were standing as normal. I’d say there was a local variation in wind there.

Also, bear in mind that the forecast and reported wind speeds are for sustained winds. There will invariably be stronger wind gusts. Perhaps the discrepancy you notice can be explained by gusts. I know I’ve been out when they were calling for wind of 10 - 15, and I was getting stopped dead by stronger gusts, perhaps 25, all the while thinking, “wow, that’s way more than they called for.”


Thank you for the responses