Planning a boating trip? Check the weather before you go!
If you’re preparing to head out on the water this summer, check the Bureau’s round-the-clock forecast service for all Australian coastal waters.
1. Warnings current for your boating area
Warnings are the highest priority forecasts. They warn of potentially dangerous wind conditions expected during the next 24 hours. Winds of 26 knots or more indicate rough conditions for small boats.
2. Weather conditions affecting safe navigation and comfort
Coastal water forecasts provide information about conditions that may affect safe boating.
Take note of forecasts indicating reduced visibility from fog or risks to safety and comfort from thunderstorms, lightning or squall conditions.
Some forecasts will also include information on UV levels and the times of day to use sun protection.
3. Wind conditions
To plan your trip for the best conditions, look for forecast trends in wind speeds and shifts in wind direction over the day. Forecast winds are average wind speeds, with gusts being up to 40% stronger.
Wind conditions for the next three or four days can also be found in coastal or local waters forecasts. Three-hourly marine forecast maps are also available from the Bureau’s Forecast Explorer tool available in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. These forecasts are all accessible from the Marine Services website: http://www.bom.gov.au/marine.
4. Wave conditions
Also take note of swell and sea wave conditions and how your boat reacts to short sharp sea waves against longer and flatter, but more powerful, swell waves.
Swell waves don’t enter enclosed waterways, but do have a dramatic effect on entrances to these areas.
Enclosed waterways are affected by sea waves – waves produced by the wind blowing across the region. A sea height of 1 metre can create enough chop to swamp a small boat. For coastal waters, you need to consider swell and sea waves. Swell waves can be of considerable danger near reefs and breakwaters.
The combination of sea and swell heights indicates the wave conditions you may experience. But you can’t just add one to the other. For instance, a 2.5 metre swell and 2 metre seas results in wave conditions over 3.2 metres. See http://www.bom.gov.au/marine/about/combinedseaswell.shtml for information on how to calculate combined sea and swell height.
Getting forecasts while you’re out on the water
You can access our marine website using 3G mobile coverage if you’re close to the coast. Forecasts are also provided by VHF and HF radio broadcasts. The Bureau's radio schedule is available at: http://www.bom.gov.au/marine/radio-sat/marine-radio-sat.shtml. Depending on local arrangements, warnings are generally broadcast every hour whilst forecasts are generally broadcast every few hours.
Happy boating from the Bureau of Meteorology & the VRCA!