Weather forecasts are vitally important to us to plan our passages and even if when we are anchored. Frontal passages will change the direction of the wind and we try to use that directional change to our advantage. As an example, heading down the Exuma islands with a strong south east wind would be difficult to say the least. If there is a cold front forecast and the winds will eventually swing clockwise, going to the south, south west, west and then northerly, we will then utilizing this frontal passage to sail off the wind having a much more comfortable trip.
There is an old saying that the most dangerous piece of equipment on board a boat is a schedule. Last year we were in Bimini waiting 10 days for the strong easterly winds to subside so we could get to West Bay on New Providence Island. Having to leave a safe anchorage in unsettled weather because of a schedule is something we try to avoid at all costs.
On board Firecracker we have numerous methods of obtaining weather forecasts. Each morning at 0630 hours we listen to Chris Parker for his weather briefing on 4045 kHz that is broadcast on the single side band. We have also subscribed to Chris’ updated forecasts sent to us each afternoon by email. I’ve included the 4 PM forecast for 2/19/2014 below as an example.
Wx Update, Bahamas, Wed19, 4pm
10a ASCAT: SE Half of C Bahamas ENE-E@17-23 / NW half of C Bahamas E@14-17 / NW Bahamas E-SE@9-13 / N of Bahamas to 29N SSE-SSW@7-13 / 30N-NorthCarolina from 75W-79W SSW-WSW@13-33, lightest 30N, and strongest within 200mi S&E of CpLookout.
FwyRk 100-120@11-16 / WEnd 030-080@6-10 / Canaveral variable, establishing 150@8-12, 2-3′ / Chrlstn-FryPnShl 230@17-21g27, 4-6′.
Showers & squalls mostly offshore beyond 120miS&E of Hatteras.
Clouds and maybe a few mild squalls S&E of T&C and from GrtInaugua to S of RaggedIsland.
Clouds NW Bahamas do not seem to generating any precipitation.
What an amazing winter! I don’t see any imminent end to the pattern of persistent upper-air support for ColdFRONTs into our region, with reinforcing energy about every 48hrs. This situation is currently in place near US E Coast…and the axis of this energy will shift S&E into areas from N Bahamas to 30N or 32N Sun23-Fri28…and may press farther S&E into Bahamas/SFL and adjacent waters during 1st few days of March.
Areas S of the above zone should enjoy mild E-SE wind/seas and settled weather or even L&V conditions Sun23 onward…but areas N of the above zone will see the occasional stronger impulse (in the form of a significant LO/GALE).
So…strong pressure gradient drives brisk E-S Trades Thu20-Fri21…conditions in all areas moderates Sat22…and this starts what may be a reasonable opportunity for folks to work S&E thru Bahamas and to E Caribbean.
Folks desiring mildest motoring conditions FL-N Bahamas should look at Sat22-Tue25, though ColdFRONT may bring some N wind into at-least N Parts of this area anytime after mid-day Sun23.
TONIGHT…RIDGE 31N/65W-StAug, with S@5-15 across RIDGE / with RIDGE farther N, E-ESE Trades are able to rebuild throughout Bahamas-SFL / N of RIDGE sees mild winds backing WSW<S.
TOMORROW…Reinforcing HI builds off Mid-AtlanticStates, and drives increasing ESE Trades Bahamas / increasing SE-S wind N of Bahamas to SE US.
TOMORROW NIGHT…Nest strong LO moves NE thru GreatLakes, and associated strong Dynamics (inward & upward rushing air into this LO and its FRONT trailing thru MississippiValley) drives further surge of E-SE wind Bahamas / SSE-S wind N of Bahamas, with most of these areas 20k)+.
FRI21…As ColdFRONT approaches US E Coast, strongest Dynamics shift N&E of Bahamas…allowing areas S of RIDGE (along Bermuda-Canaveral) to settle slightly / N of 33N continues building until ColdFRONT exits Coast late.
FRI21 NIGHT-SAT22…RIDGE Bermuda-N Bahamas, with SSE-S@10-15, and some moderation to E-ESE wind rest of Bahamas / N of Bahamas squally ColdFRONT stalls, with variable-but-brisk wind/squalls, settling gradually during Sat22.
SUN23…RIDGE 28N/65W-27N/82W, with S@5-10 across RIDGE / continuing decrease in ESE-SE Trades S of RIDGE / variable under 20k N of RIDGE, with strongest wind within 90mi of FrontalTROF which may lie from NFL ENE-ward to waters N of Bermuda.
Abaco: can’t rule-out an isolated squall to 20-25k Fri21 onward.
C Bahamas: can’t rule-out an isolated squall to 20-25k thru Sat22.
SE Bahamas: isolated squalls to 20-25k thru tomorow, then similar to C Bahamas, with less coverage and only a slight chance for a mild squall.
WIND (for wind near squalls see PRECIP):
Abaco: 090@9<100@15 tonight; 100<135@17-20g24 tomorrow-early Fri21 morning; 130-150@12-15g19 Fri21, 11k<8k Sat22; 130-170@4-9 Sun23.
N Exumas: 090@17-20g25 tonight, 090-deg<120-deg tomorrow-early Fri21 morning; 110-130@15g20 Fri21, 12k<10k Sat22, 10k<8k Sun23.
S Exumas: 080@18-20g25 tonight; 090<110@20g25 tomorow thru mid-day Fri21; 110@17g22 Fri21 afternoon, 15g20k<13g16k Sat22, 12k<10k Sun23.
SE Bahamas: 080@20g25 tonight; 090<100@20-23g29 tomorrow thru mid-day Fri21; 100@20g25 later Fri21-Sat22 morning, 16g20k Sat22 afternon, 15k<12k Sun23.
T&C and GrtInauguaS&E: 090-100@20-24g32 thru Fri21, 18-20g24k Sat22, 15g19k Sun23.
Abaco: 4-5’/7secE today, 5-6’E-ESE tomorow, ESE-SE Fri21; 4’/6-7secE-SE Sat22, 3-4′ Sun23.
C Bahamas: 4-5’/6-7secE today, 6’E-ESE tomorow, 6′<5’ESE Fri21, 4′ Sat22, 3′ Sun23.
SE Bahamas: 6-7’/6secE thru Fri21, 6′ Sat22, 5′<3′ Sun23.
Late today thru tomorrow night are best for W-bound sailors, due to building ESE<SE Trades/seas.
Fri21 may be workable for most interests, with moderate SE-SSE winds, but some mild squalls.
Sat22-Sun23 are very likely best for ALL motoring activities.
N Route watch for possible ColdFRONT late Sun23, but at-least S Route should remain benign motoring thru Mon24 and probably Tue25.
N ROUTE: 120@10<13k/2′<3′ tonight, 14g17k<15g20k/4′ tomorrow; 120<150@18g24/5-6′ tomorrow night; 150-200@14<12k/4′<3′ Fri21, 8k/2′ Sat22-Sun23…scattered squalls to 20-25k/6′ likely Fri21 thru early Sat22 morning, then mostly dry again.
S ROUTE: 100@14g17<16g20k/4′ tonight, 16-18g24k/5-6′ tomorrow; 100<140@18g24/6′ tomorrow night; 120-160@15g20<10-12g15k/5′<3′ Fri21; 100-150@7-10/2′ Sat22-Sun23…isolated squalls to 20-25k/5′ possible tomorrow afternoon-Sat22 morning.
KyW: E-ESE@15-20/5′ thru tomorrow night; E-SE@10-13/3′ Fri21, 8-12k/2-3′ Sat22-Sun23…same slight chance for squalls as S Route.
CFL: SSE@10<ESE-SE@14/4′ tonigtht; ESE<SSE@15-20/5-6′ tomorrow; S@15g20 Fri21, 10k/3′ Sat22-Sun23….squalls to 30k/6′ Fri21-Sat22 morning.
NFL-GA: S@10<14k/4′ thru tomorow morning; S@15<SSE@20g25/5′<7′ tomorrow; SSE<S<SW@20g26/7′ tomorow night-Fri21 morning; SW<N@10g15/6′<4′ most of Fri21; N<E<S@0-10/3′ Sat22-Sun23…isolated squalls to 30k Fri21 & Sun23.
Carolinas: WSW@20<W@10<S@10/6′<4′ tonight-tomorrow morning; S@10<25k/4′<7′ tomorow; S<SW@25g30/8′ tomorow night-Fri21; W<N<E@15g20/7′<6′ Fri21 night-Sat22 morning; E@15<L&V/4′ Sat22; L&V/3′ Sun23…isolated squalls to 35k/9′ Fri21 and possibly to 25k Sun23.
We also have Sirius satellite weather on our electronic chart plotter. It is a very comprehensive weather source that doesn’t require either radio or internet. It includes graphical Weather Radar; Cloud-to-Cloud and Cloud-to-Ground Lightning; METARs; Tropical Storm Tracks; Hi Res Coastal and Offshore Wave Heights with Period & Direction; Wind Forecasts and Weather Observations; Hi Res Sea Surface Temps; Alerts; Isobars; Extended Forecasts; Weather Observations; High & Low Pressure areas and Fronts. In addition to all that we also get 150 channels of satellite radio.
Not much happening in the Bahamas today so here is the weather at noon in northern Florida/Georgia. There are strong thunder storms with lots of lightning at the southern edge of the storms.
When we have internet access (most of the time) we also use WindAlert.com, PassageWeather.com and BarometerBob.org (in the Abacos).