Getting wind of the weather
It’s the golden rule for boaters—make sure you regularly check the weather conditions on your VHF marine radio. And checking for wind warnings is the most important of the Bureau of Meteorology’s Five Vital Weather Safety Checks. The Bureau’s Neal Moodie told us about the six things all boaters should know about wind warnings.
When the Bureau issues a wind warning, marine radio operators will broadcast the latest forecast information on marine radio. If you’re out on the water, keep your ear tuned into the following six wind warning features to ensure you arrive home safely:
- When will the wind warning conditions start? Do you have enough time to get back to port before the wind picks up or do you need to take precautions and seek shelter?
- How strong will the winds get? A Strong Wind Warning starts at 26 knots and a Gale Warning starts at 34 knots. As a skipper, you need to be aware of what wind conditions your vessel can handle and take steps to avoid times with stronger winds.
- What area is the wind warning for? The Bureau will specify which areas of the state are affected by the wind warning. As a skipper, you should be familiar with the names of the Bureau’s Coastal Waters zones before you head out on your trip.
- From which direction will the wind be coming? The Bureau’s forecasts will indicate the direction the wind will be coming from. With passing fronts or low pressure systems, wind directions may change suddenly. If you’re seeking shelter, be prepared to move your vessel when the wind direction changes.
- Is there any bad weather forecast? A cold front is generally associated with heavy showers, thunderstorms and squally winds. The Bureau’s forecast will indicate what type of weather is expected and you should activate your low-visibility heightened risk procedures.
- When will the wind conditions subside? Knowing how long the wind warning may last will help you determine your risk management plans. The Bureau’s forecast indicates when winds are expected to ease.
When hearing of a wind warning, skippers should seek further information from the Bureau’s forecasts via marine radio (VHF or HF) or the Bureau’s website.
The Bureau’s forecast may indicate if the wind speeds will be stronger offshore than inshore. The Bureau’s marine wind maps on MetEye enable you to obtain a detailed wind forecast for the area in which you’re planning to operate. In these cases, you should exercise additional caution just in case conditions worsen suddenly.
Last updated: 29 July 2016