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Old 18-12-2008, 07:30   #1
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are you a better weather forecaster the the pro's

Darwin Australia, the local newspaper has been highlighting cyclone possibilities for weeks, as it does every year at this time. They do it with such boring frequency that only the tourists bother to look at it, boy and wolf scenario. There is currently a low developing into a cyclone a few hundred mile southwest of here. Visiting yachties are asking where should they go, i'm saying wait until it gets here, mainly because if it doesnt get here they wont be able to do anything until the next spring tide. The tides range from 0-7metres and play a significant part in where you can and cant go anytime of the year. And historically if its developing south west of here it will move south west further. Cyclones come by every year, my attitude is part of the local folklore and although 60 folk were killed in 74 when one actually did come here most long term locals dont bother. Granted its an arrogant attitide to take but when they keep on harping on about cyclones every wet season it gets a bit dull. The port authorities along the Queensland coast have excellent cyclone procedures for yachties, the Darwin Port Authority cyclone handbook mentions yachts twice, in the index for yacht clubs. The handbook focuses more on what the clerks have to do with their computers than anything else. A cyclone came by earlier this year, terrorised a local community nearby went inland and became a storm, last year one pretty much did the same thing. The marinas are usually full and the dozen or so of us who live aboard in the harbour take the good with the bad, if things actually do look bad we know what creeks to go up depending on what the tide is at the time.

I've had some enjoyable moments with severe storms in the Tasman and have actually been in at least one significant cyclone in the Indian Ocean, which rates another post on its own, but I've always trusted my gut and acted accordingly. I look at the available weather charts and my instruments, the sky and the sea, the tell tales on my sails and the vane at the top of my mast and survive accordingly (wood touched). I've not been foolish enough to leave a safe haven when a serious storm is about but when caught with my pants down trust my yacht and trust my gut.

Do you?
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Old 18-12-2008, 07:43   #2
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I try to avoid sailing in locations where, in that particular season, forecasts for/risks of cyclones or hurricanes are prevalent. So, for example, on my next passage south I will be waiting for the first good weather window in November before departing the US eastern seaboard for the caribbean. And, when in the caribbean, I now make sure that I am south of Grenada come July.

That being said, I do not slavishly follow forecasts, but rather rely upon a combination of the forecasts, my experience in a particular area, the barometer and yes, my 'gut' feelings. When I have tended to get caught out in the past, it has typically been when I have ignored warning signs from one of the above - and typically, that is when I have been paying too much (read as any) attention to a schedule.

Brad
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Old 18-12-2008, 07:49   #3
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Bruce, Not much different here in the US. We did an informal survey one year, keeping track of NWS forecasts for 24, 48 and 72 hours and in 70% the forecasts from 24 to 48 hours changed at least 3 times in a 24 hour period and the actual conditions as opposed to the forecasts were wrong 85% of the time. It seems our weather service has very little forecasting ability if it is over water or where water and land interact. The simplest forecasts should be 24 hours out but they just can't seem to get it right. We download weather fax and look at local conditions and make our own decision. Very often we are more correct than the professional forecasters with all of the money and equipment they have available. That is the only job on the planet where you can be wrong most of the time and not loose your job AND get paid well for it.
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Old 18-12-2008, 08:10   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Baier View Post
That is the only job on the planet where you can be wrong most of the time and not loose your job AND get paid well for it.
yeah gee its amazing every forecast here has a rider attached, and i quote

'Please be aware
Wind gusts can be a further 40 percent stronger than the averages given here, and maximum waves may be up to twice the height.'

end quote
they are effectively wrong 50% of the time and get away with it, fascinating....
perhaps bill gates learnt all he knows from weather forecasting....

anyway the storm down the coast is now cyclone billy. (dinkum)
512 km Darwin (Berrimah) Radar
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Old 18-12-2008, 21:06   #5
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so what weather engine do you use when you are getting ready to go. is there just one or is there a few or do you turn on the tv for the 5 day.
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Old 18-12-2008, 21:12   #6
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We download all available weatherfax, gather information via the internet and listen to voice broadcasts from the US Coast Guard. If we are doing coastal cruising we might watch the local TV broadcast but mostly to see their weather maps. Their forecasts are pretty much land oriented and not much good to us.
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Old 18-12-2008, 22:49   #7
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Met students...

We had a wonderful member of our club who was a meteorology student, and liked to windsurf. When she started popping down to the waterfront looking happy and excited and getting gear all of us who owned boats headed off to the docks to check the docklines, secure the deck...

If she sent an e-mail to the club list asking if others wanted to join on an expedition someplace, we'd plan on staying aboard.
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Old 19-12-2008, 04:26   #8
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Quote:
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so what weather engine do you use when you are getting ready to go. is there just one or is there a few or do you turn on the tv for the 5 day.
there is an excellent HF service run by the australian met bureau and in other areas i've picked up good local VHF services also. my mobile phone internet access lets me connect to a variety of radar, satellite and ground observation posts, when it has a signal.

i've looked at weather fax services but decided they were only giving current data which i could just as easily plot on paper from the HF service. i usually photocopy or print out A4 charts of the larger area i'm in and plot the details from the radio accordingly, using different colours for successive days to get a better feel for what is going where. when it gets too messy i throw it out and start afresh.

the most trustworthy weather engine i've found in areas i'm not familiar with is talking to the locals.
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