Squid Marine Weather Software

Click here to visit the Squid Marine Weather Software Website

Squid Discount Code
Use the discount code lakeeriewx17 for a 10% discount on any Squid subscription.

Squid Marine Weather software is a weather forecast visualization and integrated routing tool from Great Circle, a software company located in Belgium. The software may be downloaded for MS Windows from the Squid website (click here) or mobile versions are available for iOS and Android. (Click here to visit the Squid homepage.)

GRIB Files
Squid is used to download and view GRIB files. GRIBs are small compressed data files that contain weather forecast information and are very easy to transmit by email, a slow Internet connection, or a satellite phone because of their small size. For example, a GRIB containing five days of forecast data for the entire Great Lakes’ basin is less than 86 kilobytes.

Weather Forecast Models
The free version of Squid provides access to two global forecast models: the GFS from the National Weather Service and the GEM from Environment Canada.

Figure 1: The forecast models available from Squid.

Data from higher resolution and ensemble weather forecast models is available on a subscription basis.
Higher resolution models (smaller grid boxes) do a better job predicting lake and land breezes and other small-scale wind patterns. Forecasts from ensemble forecast models are generally more accurate and perform more consistently than standard models. The availability of the high resolution High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) and North American Model (NAM) and the GEFS (an ensemble from the GFS model) from the Squid platform prompted me to subscribe to the Hi-Res USA / Canada / Caribbean plan at an annual rate of $43 ($39 if you apply the 10% discount code lakeeriewx17).

Figure 2: The models available in the Hi-Res USA/Canada/Caribbean subscription.

The Map Window
I have used several GRIB viewers, but Squid’s powerful and easy-to-use interface sets it apart. Squid allows you to easily modify the appearance of the map window and select the region for which you want to download a forecast.

Figure 3: The Squid map window.

GRIB Selection
After selecting your region, a few mouse clicks on the GRIB selection screen and your custom data file is on the way.

Figure 4: Forecast model selection window.

After downloading your GRIB file, Squid allows you to select which of its forecast parameters to display such as:

Figure 5: Wind barbs showing wind direction and speed.
Figure 6: Wind barbs showing wind direction and speed along with wind speed color contour.

Zooming In and Out
Once you have chosen your weather parameters, it is easy to zoom in to single lake or even a portion of a lake to review the forecast.  

Figure 7: Wind forecast for Lake Erie.
Figure 8: Wind forecast for southern Lake Michigan.

All weather forecast models have a pre-determined forecast length and interval between forecast periods. High resolution and ensembles forecast models tend to have the shortest forecast length and shortest intervals – typically one or three hours – between forecasts. The Squid Timeline, located along the bottom of the screen, allows a user to animate the forecasts or step through the forecasts one at a time.

Figure 9: Timeline controls

Value On Mouse
The Value On Mouse feature of Squid makes it very easy to confirm the forecast values on the map. Simply place your mouse over the area of interest and the Value On Mouse popup box displays the values for wind speed, wind direction, and barometric pressure at that exact longitude and latitude.

Figure 10: Value On Mouse feature.

Meteogram Here
If you are preparing a forecast for a specific location and prefer to review the data on a single screen instead of stepping through the forecast periods, Squid has a solution. The Meteogram Here feature allows you to choose a location and generate a meteogram, a time-based graph of the forecast parameters you originally specified for your map.

Figure 11: Squid's Meteogram Here feature.

Model Comparison
No weather forecast model consistently outperforms the others and the accuracy of all varies considerably from day-to-day.  It’s not uncommon for a forecast model to be reasonably accurate for the first two days and struggle afterwards or to struggle early and improve over the longer term. These swings in model performance are part of the challenge of weather forecasting.

Consistently accepting the forecast from a single model is not a recipe for an accurate forecast. A better approach is to compare the forecasts from two or three models and look for consistency in the forecasts. Known as model consensus, you can have higher confidence in the forecast when the models are generally in agreement.

Squid makes it very easy to simultaneously review forecasts from more than one forecast model. The image below (figure 12) shows the Lake Huron wind forecast (using wind barbs) valid at 21Z on March 22, 2017. The black wind barbs represent the forecast from the GEFS (GFS Ensemble) while the forecast from the NAM is shown in orange. In this example, considerable differences in both speed and direction exist between the models, particularly across the northern half of Lake Huron.

Figure 12: Squid's model comparison feature. Black wind barbs are from the GEFS (GFS Ensemble) while the light orange barbs show the forecast from the NAM.

Squid includes access to its routing interface as part of all paid data subscriptions. The routing engine uses the wind direction and speed from your chosen forecast model (from the GRIB selection process), your boat's performance metrics (polars), and your destination to calculate the fastest route. The sample routing results (figure 13) show the fastest route from Port Huron to Mackinac Island, Michigan (essentially the Cove Island course for the Bayview Mac) using the forecast from the GEFS (GFS ensemble) and polars for a C&C 34.

Figure 13: Squid's optimum routing from Port Huron, Michigan to Mackinac Island using the GEFS forecast from March 25, 2017 and the polars for a C&C 34.

User Guide
The Squid User guide can be downloaded by clicking here.