I am a mild-mannered chemistry teacher most of the year but for two weeks out of every year I visit the Great Plains in search of the most intense weather Mother Nature can throw at us. I have been bringing a Kestrel 4000 weather meter with me to measure the temperature, dewpoint and wind speed for the last ten years. I always bring too much stuff with me when I go so the opportunity to pare down the gear list is welcome. I always bring my phone along too, so when I heard about the WeatherFlow Wind Meter, I knew I’d have to try it out.
Packaged in a nice plastic case, it takes up very little room in my gear bag. Mechanically, the wind turbine turns as freely as my Kestrel’s does. It plugs into the headphone port of any Android or iOS device. There are directions on the back of the box as to where to get the app:
I hesitated to write this review as the app was terribly buggy and prone to crashing when I first got the WeatherFlow Wind Meter. I am running a Samsung Galaxy S4. I recently updated to KitKat and now the app works very nicely. I don’t know if that is a coincidence or not but it does work smoothly without force closing now.
So I took this little beauty out into the field to test out its features. It’s not just a wind meter, it also records direction and the information can be shared or saved in many different ways. It’s actually very versatile!
Here it is, ready to use. A nice, big green Start button gets the ball rolling on your recording. You can set it up to record from 3 seconds to 6o seconds. It also will show you the wind direction. The device doesn’t swivel, you have to swivel yourself to face the strongest winds. You are the weathervane, in other words. Not the most accurate way to do it but for most purposes it’s good enough. No different than with my Kestrel, except this actually tells you the direction the wind is coming from. It also uses the phone’s GPS to pinpoint your location.
You can customize your data collection. You can specify an activity that you are using the device for, from windsurfing to fishing. You can choose the speed units you need, from meters per second to miles per hour to the Beaufort scale. You can have the directional data in the form of test (SE, for example) or in degrees. You can choose from magnetic north or true north for the compass function. This gives you a good deal of flexibility. You can even use this as a flow meter if you are doing wind tunnel work or measuring the power of a fan. It’s not just limited to the weather.
This shows the wind meter in operation, recording data. There wasn’t much of a breeze on this day but it will pick up any wind speed greater than 1 mph.
Once you are done recording your data, you have the option of deleting it or sharing it. It can be saved as well and you can modify your data and add a description to your data log. You can also choose to make it public. You can save it to DropBox, you can make a PDF of the report, copy it to the clipboard, email it, Facebook it, do an Instant Message…it outputs it as a text that says “Winds are (low speed) to (high speed) from the (direction) and then a short URL to the data. The link takes you to an OnSite Report that also shows a map with the location the wind speed was measured at. This will come in very handy for recording storms during this summer’s trip!
The menu’s top two items will be of the most use. The app is free so there is some advertising stuff here. You can click “Get a Wind Meter” and it will take you to an order page, or you can sign up to sell these yourself if you are a retailer.
Compatible Apps are all “coming soon” and appear to be apps that are specialized for different tasks.
Finally, the app keeps a record of each data collection you have made for future reference.
So, will this little gadget be coming with me this summer? You had better believe it. It takes up no room in my gear bag and will help me, along with a geotagged reference photo of a storm, keep track of where and when the storms were. This will help me in cataloging my photos and time-lapse videos that I take. Plus, it will be nice to see just how strong those inflow winds are. Say, is that a wall cloud forming, just there? Hmm….oh, a funnel! It’s going to touch down! WE HAVE A TORNADO!!!!!!