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Thread: Sea States

  1. #1
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    Default Sea States

    Ok, I've been out on the salt several times now and before I go anywhere I always look at the NOAA Marine weather reports. Since I'm heading to Homer Friday I've been checking out the Kachemak Bay forecasts and I've come up with a question.

    Here's today's forecast'

    KZ141-021400-
    KACHEMAK BAY
    400 PM AKDT WED JUL 1 2009

    .TONIGHT...SW WIND 15 KT IN THE EVENING BECOMING VARIABLE LESS THAN
    10 KT. SEAS 3 FT.
    .THU...VARIABLE WIND LESS THAN 10 KT BECOMING SW 15 KT IN THE
    AFTERNOON. SEAS 3 FT.
    .THU NIGHT...SW WIND 15 KT IN THE EVENING BECOMING VARIABLE LESS
    THAN 10 KT. SEAS 3 FT.
    .FRI THROUGH MON...SW WIND 15 KT. SEAS 3 FT.

    It doesn't seem to matter whether the winds are 15 knots or variable, the seas are always forecast to be 3 feet What gives?

  2. #2
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    Default

    Good question Bookseller. I was talking to a buddy about that a week ago as he was checking the weather for a fishing trip. I commented to him that I have NEVER seen a forecast or current outlook for PWS out of Whittier that was less than 10 & 2 (10kts and 2' seas). I think it's because they don't want to be liable if they say "calm and no seas" and a bunch of idiots take out their 8' Lunds and can't handle even 2' seas if they were to come up. I've checked current conditions and then gone to the reporting bouys to see what the conditions really are in that area and it kinda proved my thinking. I don't fault them at all for this conservative forecasting as it probably saves many lives. When the weather is favorable, it usually is "extra" good. But once it starts going the other way (bad) I personally tend to start treating their forecast as being too optimistic (just to give myself a safety net). I have gone out deer hunting in Dec when they called for 3-4 foot seas the day I was leaving and getting better for the next 4 days. Ran into 6-7 foot seas that 1st day
    As far as Homer, be aware that the afternoon conditions can become windy and rougher than expected for awhile but if there is no stormy weather coming in the forecast it will usually lay down in the evening for a more comfortable return to port. Just make sure you have made plans to wait out the weather if needed.

  3. #3
    Member Osteichthyes's Avatar
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    Default

    Another thing to keep in mind is the notice at the top of the page on each forecast that reads:
    "WIND FORECASTS REFLECT THE PREDOMINANT SPEED AND DIRECTION
    EXPECTED. SEA FORECASTS REPRESENT AN AVERAGE OF THE HIGHEST
    ONE-THIRD OF THE COMBINED WIND WAVE AND SWELL HEIGHT."

    So for a variable 10 knots seas 2 ft forecast you can see what
    they're actually talking about (i.e. a worst case).

    Also, it can be confusing when you see 15 knot winds predicted but
    the seas are 5 feet one day and 3 the next. This is likely after it
    has been rough in the forecast area and needs time to calm down
    or due to rough seas in another area have affected the area of
    the forecast. At least that is how I understand it...


    Importantly, the forecast reflects the prominent wind direction.
    All bets are of in bays and passes where directions can change
    and winds can gust far greater than the forecast. This reinforces the need for a good anchor and adequate scope. I just changed out my plow (Bruce) for a Rocna and am very satisfied with the results.

  4. #4
    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Question

    Seems to me that there is no contradiction here. With SW winds at 15 knots, you get predicted seas of 3 feet. It's the same forecast for every day, with the exception that a couple of times the winds may calm down for a while... Barring those exceptions, the entire forecast is SW winds 15 knots, seas 3 feet. Am I missing something?
    KZ141-021400-

    KACHEMAK BAY
    400 PM AKDT WED JUL 1 2009

    .TONIGHT...SW WIND 15 KT IN THE EVENING BECOMING VARIABLE LESS THAN
    10 KT. SEAS 3 FT.
    .THU...VARIABLE WIND LESS THAN 10 KT BECOMING SW 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 3 FT.
    .THU NIGHT...SW WIND 15 KT IN THE EVENING BECOMING VARIABLE LESS
    THAN 10 KT. SEAS 3 FT.
    .FRI THROUGH MON...SW WIND 15 KT. SEAS 3 FT.
    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska
    ... you canít tell stories about the adventures you wished you had done!

  5. #5
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    Default

    Probably a weak example but as bushboy pointed out, it just doesn't seem to matter what the winds are, there is always a minimum sea state they report and it just doesn't seem to ever be lower. Two feet in Passage Canal for example. If 3 feet is the minimum they wish to forecast for Kashemak Bay then I'm good with that. As bushboy says, I'm going to look at the buoy data for actual conditions on the day of the trip anyhow.

    I was just curious.

  6. #6

    Smile

    I would guess that "liability" isn't an issue pertaining to sending out a wave height report to keep people from going or to cover their own butt. I think it is what it is, they have to report what they perdict to be the closest estimate at the time, shipping and boating safety depends on the most accurate forecast.

    One foot seas is not uncommom a fee times a summer on the data bouy report, two foot is the norm usually. The best way to really grasp the information of the forecast is experience, listen to the forecast on the radio, read it before you go, read it afterwards, be on the water during it.

    Try that small craft advisory sometime for a little adrenaline rush to get the blood flowing, good times! (just joking)

  7. #7
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    Default Buoy data?

    Is buoy data available in SE? I am looking at the NOAA Marine Forecast page and don't see a link or anything pertaining to buoy data.

  8. #8
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    Default Found it

    I found it under links, go figure. It appears as though there are only 3 in the Juneau area. One at Point retreat and two in Gastineau Channel. There may be another near Taku Inlet, but It is not showing data. Cool, I'm glad to have another tool to use before launching.

  9. #9
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    Default Sea States

    some states are pretty limited when it comes to Sea Cadet units. However, if you really love the program, make the commitment once or twice a month.

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