A Few Days Ahead
Several days ahead of time start listening for the National Weather Service extended 5-day outlooks on NOAA Weather Radio, AM/FM radio, and TV. The outlooks give general information to help you decide whether or not to continue making plans.
Before Setting Out
Pay close attention to the TV weathercast and listen to detailed marine weather forecasts on weather Radio. Take note of small boat cautionary statements, small craft advisories, or gale or storm warnings in the forecasts. The advisories and warnings (see definitions) alert mariners to higher winds and waves either occurring now or forecast to occur up to 24 hours from now. Advisories and Warnings for conditions expected later give mariners time to take action to protect life and property.
On the Water
Don';t touch that dial! Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio. You know the weather - it changes! The change often occurs out of your sight and may be headed your way. Updated warnings and forecasts are aired immediately on NOAA Weather Radio, alerting you to changes that may require action on your part.
Stay Alert, watch for signs of approaching storms such as:
- dark, threatening clouds that may foretell a squall or thunderstorm
- a steady increase in wind or sea
- lightning flashes
An increase in wind opposite in direction to a strong tidal current may lead to steep waves capable of broaching a boat. Heavy static on your AM radio may be an indication of nearby thunderstorm activity. If a thunderstorm is approaching, head for shore if possible. Get out of your boat and away from the water. Find shelter immediately.
If a thunderstorm catches you while afloat, remember that gusty winds and lightning pose a threat to safety.
- Put on your personal flotation device and prepare for rough seas
- Stay below deck if possible
- Keep away from metal objects that are not grounded to the boat's protection system
- Don't touch more than one grounded object at the same time (or you may become a shortcut for electrical surges passing through the protection system).
Small Craft Advisory:
Observed or forecast winds of 18 to 33 knots--Small Craft Advisories may also be issued for hazardous sea conditions or lower wind speeds that may affect small craft operations. Issued up to 12 hours ahead of conditions. (There is no legal definition of the term "small craft")