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Thread: PWS Weather

  1. #1
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    Default PWS Weather

    I'm curious about what part of the marine forecast other Whittier boaters pay attention to. For example, the forecast for Passage Canal is fairly straight forward; however, when do you start focusing on the PWS forecast? The forecast for this weekend has Passage Canal looking great with variable winds 10kts with seas of 2 feet. However, the PWS forecast is calling for some fairly nasty weather. Is Port Wells likely to experiance the 7 foot seas on Sunday as the forecast predicts or would that be more out by Naked or Lone Island?

    PKZ125-090200-
    PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
    745 AM ADT THU MAY 8 2008

    ...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY THROUGH FRIDAY...
    .TODAY...E WIND 15 KT INCREASING TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.
    SEAS 3 FT BUILDING TO 6 FT. RAIN.
    .TONIGHT...E WIND 25 KT. SEAS 6 FT. RAIN.
    .FRI...NE WIND 25 KT. SEAS 4 FT. RAIN.
    .FRI NIGHT...N WIND 20 KT. SEAS 3 FT.
    .SAT...NW WIND 15 KT. SEAS 2 FT.
    .SUN...SE WIND 30 KT. SEAS 7 FT.
    .MON...E WIND 40 KT. SEAS 9 FT.

    $$

    PKZ129-090200-
    PASSAGE CANAL
    400 AM ADT THU MAY 8 2008
    .TODAY...E WIND 20 KT. SEAS 3 FT. RAIN.
    .TONIGHT...E WIND 20 KT. SEAS 3 FT. RAIN.
    .FRI...E WIND 15 KT. SEAS 2 FT. RAIN.
    .FRI NIGHT THROUGH SUN...VARIABLE WIND 10 KT. SEAS 2 FT.
    .MON...E WIND 15 KT. SEAS 2 FT.

    $$

  2. #2
    Member DMan's Avatar
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    Default

    Wind and tides. 7ft seas out in the bigger parts of the sound could just be swells. Wind in the opposite direction as the tide with gusting winds could mean white caps.

    In Port Wells because it is so close to everything and you have so many bays dumping into one body of water you usually get waves. The waves stack up close and with a good wind really from about any direction you can get white caps just because there is a wind tunnel coming from about every direction.

    The biggest thing is that the sound has allot of variety when it comes to factors that affect water so take the forecast as a guide and know that even if it says variable 10kt with seas 2 feet you could end up coming home in 6ft white caps.

    For me, if I am taking people that are fair weather people and it is 20kt + gusts we probably are not going. One thing is for sure, 30 and 40kt like this Sunday and Monday aren't anything you want to take lightly in a small craft.

    Good luck and be safe.
    ... aboard the 'Memory Maker' Making Memories one Wave at a Time!

  3. #3
    Member akriverrat's Avatar
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    Default

    i pay more attention to the pws forcast because when i go to whittier im not staying in passage canal. i also try and dial in on the weather bouys just before i go. i think the last time i checked though only orca bay was working and 34081 which is right in wells passage was not working. wells passage can be a nasty son of u (*&%. like mentioned it comes at different directions and you really need to pay attention if you get caught out there in the nasties.

  4. #4
    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default

    Well, it all depends on where you're ultimately going. Anything significant wind from the north-ish makes a Port Wells crossing a real bugger in a small boat. SE winds can blow thru Wells Pass and get ugly in there, too...the Sunday forecast (while it's still a few days away and subject to change) is pretty strong, and forecast to build into Monday. That whole Port Wells/Wells Passage/Cochrane/Passage area is a big mixing bowl and sometimes it doesn't matter what the direction is -- any significant wind makes it nasty.

    What kind of boat do you have and where are your going?

  5. #5
    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Default

    I usually keep an eye on the marine weather in Passage Canal, PWS, and the North Gulf Coast starting three to five days ahead of my planned trip. I also look at satellite loops. That way I can see patterns starting to develop. It can take a while for weather to push up from the Gulf into northern and western PWS and I find that trends are usually more reliable indicators of what it's actually going to be out there than the forecast issued the day before the trip.

    Good luck. Be safe.
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  6. #6
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Pws

    The National Weather Service report is only one piece of the pie needed out there. You have the basic weather report, the marine weather report, the bouy report, the topographical features of the land and your own seamanship skills. I have been out when there were no small craft advisories posted, taking water over the side of the boat. Then again in a 4-5 foot set of waves, park in a bay for an hour and come back out to calm seas. It may be quiet in Port Valdez but because the winds are NNW, the waves build up in the Narrows because they are channeled by the terrain. Or again, NNW and the ice comes out of Columbia Glacier between Glacier Island and I have to go around.

    A person should have as much information as possible on hand to be out there.

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
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  7. #7
    Member captaindd's Avatar
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    Default Buoy

    When listening to the weather report I always like to compare the wind speed to the wave height information. I the buoy is telling that the wind is blowing 25 to 30 knots from the East and the wave height is 1 ft something is wrong. Either the wind has just started blowing or the buoy is not working right. The mid sound buoy seems to have that problem every year. The weather reports are just a calulated guess on what is going to happen. Some times they are right on and other times they are way off. It is better to be safe that sorry.

  8. #8

    Default

    ...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY THROUGH FRIDAY...
    Here is a hint.

    20 and 3 in Passage Canal can be not bad at all, or it can rattle your teeth. 20 and 3 with rain is not much fun.

  9. #9
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    Default Thanks

    I've always paid a lot of attention to the wind forecasts for PWS and I know that Port Wells is a big mixing pot that can get nasty from all directions. I'm always interesting in learning how other folks out of Whittier use the marine forecasts. I had gotten into the habit of looking at the bouy data from Port Wells but I see its having some maintenance issues right now.

    The revised forecast for the weekend has East winds 15kts for Sunday; I'm going to go ahead and get in the water tonight after work. I have the Forest Service cabin out in Cochrane Bay this weekend and I'm looking forward to adding some more shrimp to my freezer.

    Thanks for all the feedback.

    Boat name: Finally
    22' Searunner

  10. #10

    Default Grain of salt

    As everyone knows, the weather forecasts for the sound (and most anywhere else) can be bad wrong. Like others have said you need to look at all the information, not just forecast by itself.

    If you go to Anchorage's NWS website, on the left will be a bunch of options. Second one down is "forecast discussion." I read this before even reading the forecast. This is where the weather guys are blatantly honest about the forecast. Look for the section "Model discussion." The whole forecast is based on computer models and they will say how much confidence they have in what the models are predicting.

    Often, they won't have much confidence in the prediction much more than 2 days out. To me, that means you have to take it day by day. Listen to the forecast everyday you are out in the sound and figure that they'll be close to right today but tomorrow will be different. I wouldn't place much stock in a Monday forecast on the previous Thursday or Friday.

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