How To Avoid Severe Weather
Weather can change very rapidly and create unexpected emergencies for boat and PWC operators. Even meteorologists have trouble predicting rapid changes in the weather. You should always watch for changes in the weather and monitor the weather forecast. As an operator, it is your responsibility to take appropriate action based on the weather.
- Tune a portable radio to a local station that gives weather updates. There are VHF-FM radio stations that broadcast National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather reports, which are updated each hour.
- Be alert to weather conditions. Accumulating dark clouds, shifting winds, and graying skies all may be indications of danger. Listen for distant thunder.
- Track changes in barometer readings. A rising barometer indicates fair weather. A falling barometer indicates foul weather is approaching.
- Watch for wind direction shifts, which usually indicate a weather change.
- Watch for lightning and rough water. If not electrically grounded, boats (particularly sailboats) are vulnerable to lightning.
- Be observant of weather from all directions; however, closely watch the weather to the west, the direction from which most bad weather arrives.
- Watch for fog that creates problems in inlets and bays. Typically, fog will form during the temperature changes of the early morning or evening hours and can persist for lengthy periods.
- Head toward the nearest safe shore if a thunderstorm is approaching.