Ocean Sites

(www.fermi.jhuapl.edu/avhrr/) This is by far the best site on the web and displays high resolution, real-time, false color NOAA polar orbiting infrared satellite images covering the entire East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. There are three and seven day composites available as well as archive data back several years.

(www.marine.rutgers.edu/cool/sat_data) This is the second best website (next to Johns Hopkins), that displays real time false color imagery covering large areas and 3 degree squares.

(www.ndbc.noaa.gov/rmd.shtml) This site displays buoy information such as sea surface temperatures, air temperature, sea level pressure, wave height, barometric pressure, etc.

Jenifer acquires images from each of these sites, downloads them, and analyzes them using multi-layer photoshop software. Her final products are a combination of the interpretation from all the infrared imagery.

Shipboard Observations

  • Lightning – cloud-to-ground, cloud-to-cloud, heat lightning, measuring movement of storms
  • Clouds – different types, dangerous clouds, fog
  • Seas – swells, wind waves, Inlet conditions, current/wind interactions
  • Sea/land Breeze – wind regimes, weather conditions
  • Islands/Mountains – weather and local wind conditions
  • How to “Nowcast” at Sea A term referring to what’s happening with the weather now and in the immediate future (usually 1-3 hours)
  • What to use: Your eyes, weather tools, communications, computers
  • What to observe: Clouds, stars, sun, moon, seas, local conditions, weather charts and forecasts, weather forecast model outputs, ocean and tidal currents, ocean temperatures, air temperature, barometric pressure and change, winds, other boats, the eyes of your crew.
  • How to determine what to expect for the next few minutes or hours: Experience, some are very obvious and common sense can be used, others are more complicated and training is required
  • Have a plan for all types of severe weather conditions!!

Tips and Tools

Every boat should have the following weather tools on board:

  • Thermometer (for ocean and air)
  • Barometer – measures the air pressure
  • Anemometer (if possible) – measures the wind speed and direction
  • VHF/SS band Radio – monitor weather forecasts

Associated gear for bad weather:

  • Sea Anchor – Heavy duty
  • Plenty of foul weather gear
  • EPRIB’s (also consider personal locator devices)

Also for long passages, consider:

  • Satellite Phone – Several to choose from now (costs way down)
  • Computer and Internet Link-ups
  • Radars and weather satellite receivers

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do include weather and ocean planning prior to any ocean passage
  • Do watch weather and ocean conditions carefully several days in advance before a trip.
  • Do always have a plan for severe weather and ocean conditions – you will use it someday!
  • Do be prepared with the right equipment to get you through rough weather
  • Don’t take weather lightly
  • Don’t get close to tropical storms or hurricanes – play these conservatively