XM Marine Weather Service
XM marine weather data is transmitted to a compatible system, like the Garmin GDL 30A weather receiver and Garmin 3210 multi-function display we used for testing, with satellite based radio signals.
Weather information is collected from both government and private weather providers then analyzed and processed by WxWorx, a private weather company that has partnered with XM radio.
Products received varies depending on your selected subscription. We reviewed XM weather using the Master Mariner subscription.
Updated weather data is sent to your receiver every few minutes to every 20 minutes depending on the product.
Severe storm tracks are updated most frequently with new data sent every 90 seconds. These arrow-like indicators provide speed and direction information on strong thunderstorms.
Other rapidly changing data sources like radar and lightning data update every 5 minutes.
A longer update time of 12 minutes is the standard for most other items. The longest times are for the satellite mosaic, every 15 minutes, and for marine weather forecasts, every 20 minutes.
Accessing XM Weather on a Garmin Display
Graphically displayed products like weather radar are viewed on the Garmin 3210 system through soft key activated page presets on the map page.
Map page presets called General, Sea State, and Storms can be customized to fit your specific needs.
To reduce clutter on a page specific displayed items, like radar or lightning data can be turned on, off, or on for certain map ranges only.
Text based weather information is accessed through the weather tab on the main menu.
Here you’ll find several more tabs including Current, Forecast, Sea Surface, Marine Bulletins, and Forecast Maps.
Each tab has list of weather information available. For example, the Marine Bulletins page shows the user a list of nearby marine forecasts, which can be selected and read onscreen.
Once our weather receiver was activated we found the data transmission speed and chart update speed to be fairly fast.
Within a couple minutes of turning the unit most weather data would be displayed.
Both XM marine weather services and Garmin claim the weather system will receive signals and work well up to several hundred miles offshore of the continental United States.
We spend several hours using the XM weather system and found all the information useful, easy to access, and easy to decipher.
Although XM and Sirius both provide similar weather products we found the XM marine weather system carried a slew of items that had more or better coverage or access.
Only the XM system provides a satellite mosaic showing cloud cover areas. Buoy data coverage was more extensive and marine forecast data was easier to access and read.
Sea surface temperature used numbers to enhance the value of the graphically displayed data.
Finally, the wave height data was also displayed in number format increasing its usefulness.
At the present time Garmin is the only XM compatible standalone hardware maker. The XM weather system is also compatible with a number of PC-based navigation display systems.
Precipitation TypeMarine Zone Forecasts
Marine Zone Forecasts
Marine Zone ForecastsSurface Analysis Maps
Surface Analysis Maps
Surface Analysis MapsSurface Pressure
Surface Wind Spd/Direction
Surface PressureSea Surface Temperture
Sea Surface Temperture
Sea Surface TempertureFronts
Wave HeightBuoy Data
Surface Wind Spd/Direction
Severe Weather Storm Track
Unfortunately the two $29.99 a month XM marine weather packages are missing what we consider to be essential weather information.
We’d have to opt for the more expensive Master Mariner package at $49.99 per month. Only the latter features lightning data, the satellite mosaic, severe weather tracking, hurricane tracking, wind speed/direction, and wave information.
A $50 one-time activation fee applies to all packages. If you’re boat is only in the water for part of the year you may be able to get the activation fee waived upon seasonal reactivation of your account.