How to Interpret Your Weather App at the Beach

You’ve finally arrived at the beach. Now it’s time to plan out your week. You open your weather app and… major disappointment! Every single day shows a cloud and a lightening bolt.

Do not despair! Our forecast for the weather forecast here at the beach shows a 99% chance of inaccurate forecasting.

weather bugMany temperatures and masses live side by side in this area. The ocean is cool. The land is hot. The bay is in between. We have sea breezes and land breezes. The wind speed and direction differs on the different area bays. Weather forecasters have a tough job here!

At Coastal Kayak, when we see a forecast with anything less than 80% chance of rain, we don’t pay it much attention. 90-100% chance – we’ll take note. But even then it is definitely not a sure thing.

Live radar is the best indicator of what to expect. If storms are on the radar look at the size and the direction they are heading. If they are directly west of us, they’ll usually follow a northeasterly track and miss us. If the storm has a straggly little tail to the south, it will usually fall apart before it gets here.

The direction from which it is coming also gives clues as to what kind of system it will be. If it is coming from the east, most of the time it is only rain. If it is coming from the west, the storms can be severe. But as mentioned above, many times they miss us or fall apart before arriving. Storms from the north seem to be the worst. They bring short bursts of extremely strong winds along with lightening and downpours. Storms coming from the south are a mixed bag.

ck storm

This system came from the north.

Pop-up storms are the biggest threat. They can be intense. And, unfortunately, by the time they show up on radar, you can already hear the thunder. So on sunny, sticky, humid days, you have to be your own radar. Watch the clouds. If they tower and the tops bubble up and up, stay close to the shore.

marine forecastThe wind is a different matter and most people don’t pay attention to it. But if you want to play on the water, you have to be aware of the wind. The marine forecast has the most accurate wind speed forecast for our area. But not the Chesapeake Bay marine forecast! Look for the Delaware and/or Maryland coastal waters forecast. Also note the wind direction. Northwest, southwest, and west winds make the bay waters choppy. If it is a direction with east in it, the water along our shoreline will be smooth. A southwest wind will usually pick up in the afternoon while a north wind will die out as the day goes on.

Your weather app will probably get the temperature right. Be skeptical of everything else. The hourly forecast, while not that accurate, will many times show the biggest chance of precipitation in the very early morning hours or overnight. Yet they still depict the day as a rain-out.

Our most important advice – don’t miss an opportunity for a wonderful day outside by trusting your weather app. Go look for yourself. A bright, beautiful summer beach day may greet you as you walk out the door!

by Jenifer Adams-Mitchell

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