In addition to marine weather forecasts, the department also publishes a National Marine Weather Guide as well as Regional Marine Weather Guides geared to the different regions of Canada. These guides provide very valuable information about conditions that are unique to certain parts of the country.
Weather Concerns for Boaters
Of utmost importance when out on the water is being able to see where you are going. Fog is one of the more significant weather hazards you will have to deal with.
Wind is described based on the direction from where it is blowing, i.e. a west wind is blowing out of the west. In marine forecasts, wind speed is expressed in knots (nautical miles per hour).
If you are a sailor, wind can be fun, particularly if there are no significant waves. If the wind blows for period of time, waves are generated. Two factors determine wave height. First, the length of time the wind has been blowing, and second, the amount of water (the distance) the wind has been blowing over. That distance is referred to as “Fetch”.
When heading out on the water, boaters should know what to expect from the wind. Check your local forecast before casting off.
Lightning is almost always associated with thunderstorms. Lightning is powerful, unpredictable and dangerous. When it comes to weather phenomena, it is also a complex topic.
From a mariner’s perspective, the concern is with a significant buildup of energy in the atmosphere looking for a place to discharge or looking for the shortest and fastest way to ground. The ground is the water that your boat is sitting in. For a sailboat, the shortest way to the water (ground) is your mast (the conductor). From the top of your mast, lightning will instantaneously find it’s way to water (ground), using the best and most direct conductors.
If you are out on the water in a thunderstorm, the best advice is to stay low and away from the conductors.