Weather Training Talk
Dom led fab weather sessions last week as part of our series of Training Talks. When first asked to run the session we weren’t certain what level to pitch it at but it worked really well. Thank you to all those who shared ideas and resources. As the talks program has developed we have people sending in ideas which is brilliant. I have tried to include links to the resources discussed in the paragraphs below. The talks are designed as a springboard into learning for those new to boating or refreshers for others. Weather is discussed on our Day Skipper and Yachtmaster Theory Courses or on the online RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship course which provides a great foundation for boating theory.
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We first addressed the question of why we wanted to know about the weather. In our everyday lives we are interested in is it going to rain, be a heatwave or a hurricane. As boaters we need to consider many more factors. Not just the wind speed but the direction, sea state, visibility etc. We discussed where we source information and what impact weather has on our boating. We then looked at the terms used in forecasts and live weather vs predictions.
Sources of weather information:
This presentation was mainly focussed with online sources of information but don’t forget forecasts can be obtained from NCI (VHF Ch 65 or their websites), marina or harbour offices, Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts every three hrs on VHF and Navtex.
Dom introduced the Met Office Inshore Waters Forecast . This is valid for up to 12 miles offshore. We had a chat about the areas and started to look at the terminology used. For many new leisure boaters this may be the first time they have come across the Beaufort Wind Scale.
This led to a chat about the Beaufort Scale. What it was, how it compared to other wind units and what it actually means for us as boaters. What is reasonable boating weather and how will it effect our day out. Dom had a great graphic to illustrate the points made.
It was interesting to see the live forecast on both Tues and Thurs evenings. Tues we had fog patches in the forecast and Thurs a strong wind warning which illustrated nicely the need to use forecasts.
We then moved back to the forecast to look at the terminology used. A guide can be found here – Met Office Glossary Terms such as imminent – what does that actually mean?
Next up was Windguru – a favourite of Dom’s this gave us the chance to look at different forecasting models. Great questions about gusts vs wind speed and the colours indicating wind strength. The ability to swap between units of wind speed was highlighted. The topic of accuracy in terms of timescales was then discussed. How far can we start to have confidence in the forecast. How can we zoom out to watch weather patterns to interpret the information.
Windy was then introduced along with the ability to zoom out and look at developing weather systems. It gave us the opportunity to start to talk about synoptic charts. We talked about high and low pressure systems and how we could look for weather patterns to interpret information. How the colour coding works and the ability to look at rain, waves etc as well as wind. Another nice feature is the link to local webcams to see what is actually happening. Once again we looked at weather modelling systems and looked a week ahead to
XC Weather proved to be popular. Although much less detailed for a day out in the harbour this was an easy view option. We talked about wind directions and how these can be used to start to look at sheltered places for boating. How does wind direction affect the conditions you will encounter. We used Poole Bay and Poole Harbour to illustrate the points.
Lots of other favourite weather apps were mentioned and there is a lot of choice out there. Compare across forecasts and interpret the information you are given. The other forecasts people mentioned are listed at the end of this blog.
Wave height can be confusing. People seem to exaggerate the conditions they have been out in, probably because it seemed rough conditions but it can lull others into a misunderstanding of the conditions the forecast is referring to. Dom showed us some great slides of conditions for waves weights and how these compare to the terms in forecasts. Remember a sea state of rough is waves of 2.5 – 4m !
Live weather information:
So far we have been looking at forecasts – these are predictions. We also have sources on information we can use to access live information.
For windstrength the website Weatherfile is a popular option. Very handy for us as there is a weather station right in the middle of our training area. Note that you can change location or the units of measurement in the menu.
Other popular sources include the website Bramblemet in the Solent BrambleMet
And many sailing clubs or watersports facilities have their own weather stations some of which are accessible to the public. One local example is Poole Yacht Club Weather click on ‘View Gauges’ towards the bottom of the page.
Webcams can also be useful to get a guide before heading down to the water but remember the angle on these can be deceiving.
These give us information on wave heights. We find a user friendly view option is at Magic Seaweed Magic Seaweed – Wave Buoys. Click on the buoy nearest your location for information. For further formal information from CEFAS available here CEFAS Wavenet
By bringing all the information together we can demonstrate the impact on our boating. We looked at local conditions, sea breezes and land breezes, cloud formations and then onto advection fog and radiation fog. We used examples and a chart to demonstrate how different wind directions coupled with tide could impact our boating and how this may differ between powerboats and sail.
If you enjoyed the presentation and would like to know more about weather the Met Office have some great YouTube videos which we have links to on our channel YouTube and even a free course available here Weather Courses The RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship Course also has a great section on weather and how we can use it for our boating along with many other theory topics. It is a great foundation for boating, usually undertaken online with about 8-10 hours study. (Cost May 2020 – £90)
We really enjoyed the presentations this week and it is lovely that so many people sent in their own sources of information. We hope you found it useful. Listed below are resources that others sent in to us. We have not yet verified all of these so use your own discretion but looks like some great extra tools. You do need to understand the modelling systems are being used.
Greatweather.co.uk – huge list of resources Great Weather
UKWeatheronline – useful synoptic charts WeatherOnline
Rain alarm – a personal favourite of mine which has many a time kept us dry on a course Rain Alarm