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Marine Weather Warnings and Signals

Marine Weather and the knowledge of it plays a major role in having a safe day of fishing and boating. When the weather is sunny and calm you can usually enjoy your day on the water without incident or without worrying about anything more than using the proper suntan lotion, as far as the weather goes anyway. But things can change fast on the water and a nice warm enjoyable sunny day can turn disasterous in a heartbeat. Marine Weather can change very rapidly and create unexpected situations for boat operators. Even meteorologists have trouble predicting rapid changes in the weather. Sunny skies and calm winds can deteriorate quickly and give way to gray skies and gale force gusts in thunderstorms with dangerous lightning that can kill instantly if precautions are not taken immediately. You should always watch for changes in the weather and monitor the weather forecast on you VHF or portable AM/FM radio.

A good Captain that has his crew's safety at heart will always check the weather before he ever leaves the dock. He will make sure he has a good VHF radio or other reliable weather forecast source on board. A safety conscience Captain, even in clear weather will periodically tune-in to the weather forecast for hourly or so updates to be sure a dangerous or deadly thunderstorm isn't just over the horizon.


USCG marine weather rescues - United States Coast Guard
"A Search and Rescue (SAR) vessel battling foul weather to save a boater in distress."

- U.S.Coast Guard

VHF-FM Stations Broadcasting
NOAA Weather Reports
WX-1 162.550 MHz
WX-2 162.400 MHz
WX-3 162.475 MHz

Boater Caught in Foul Weather

Should you find yourself in a bad weather situation and far from sure there are some things you can do to make it thru the storm.

  • Put your life jacket on
  • Tune your VHF to weather for updates
  • Distribute the weight evenly on your boat
  • Stay low as you can towards the middle of the boat in T-Storms
  • Pay attention and slowly work your way to shore but keep enough power to maintain headway and steering.
  • Keep a sharp lookout for other boats and floating debris. If there is fog, sound your fog horn.
  • Head for the nearest shore that is safe to approach. If already caught in a storm, it may be best to ride out the storm in open water rather than trying to approach the shore in heavy wind and waves.
  • Avoid running broadside to the waves. Head bow into the waves at a 45 degree angle.
  • Close all hatches, windows, etc. to reduce the chance of swamping.
  • Keep bilges free of water. Be prepared to remove water by bailing if needed.

How To Avoid Being Caught In Foul Weather

  • Tune a portable radio to a local station that gives weather updates. Listed to the right are the VHF-FM radio stations that broadcast National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather reports, updated each hour.
  • Be alert to the weather you can see. Developing 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.
  • Watch for wind direction shifts which usually indicate a weather change.
  • Watch for lightning and rough water. Remember that boats, particularly sailboats, are vulnerable to lightning if not grounded.
  • Watch the weather to the west, the direction from which most bad weather arrives. However, be observant of weather from all directions.
  • Fog creates problems in inlets and bays. Typically, fog will form during the temperature changes of the early morning or evening hours. Fog can persist for lengthy periods.

Boaters Bad Weather Warnings and Signals

Warnings and signals. Day signals and night signals. Small craft, gale, whole gale, and hurricane warnings. Pay attention to your NWS forecast for your area. Know the waters you operate in and when there is a small Craft Advisory or greater Stay In and make it a good day to do maintenence on your boat and gear.

Boating Weather and boat navigation


The Weather and Environment

The weather and surrounding water conditions are important factors to consider when setting out on a fishing or boating trip. Most water-related fatalities occur on smaller bodies of water late in the year, when water and air temperature are lower, and there is a greater frequency of storms. If the weather looks bad or if there is a forecast for upcoming storms, don't risk going out. If you do get caught in a squall, please follow the tips and suggestions mentioned above, they just, might save your life and property. And we know  f ishermen many times deliberately seek out less populated fishing areas . In these locations, there is less opportunity for someone to find you in an emergency. It is wise to let someone know the general area you will be in by leaving them a Float Plan.

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