Knowing the weather is key to enjoying your time out on the water. Whether you are sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or just going to the beach, having an accurate forecast is always important. I would say that an “accurate forecast” in our area is an oxymoron. But you still want to get the most accurate report possible.
First of all, if you are going to be on the water, you want to make sure you check out the marine forecast for nearshore or inshore waters. Because of the openness on the water the wind speed can be quite different than wind speeds that are only a mile inland. Many times we have people tell us that the forecast said this or that only to find out that they were listening to a Baltimore or Philadelphia station.
The other thing that you need to consider when looking at the current conditions is the actual location of the weather station being used. With a lot of weather apps you can choose the location of the weather station. When we lived in Dagsboro there was a local weather station at someone’s home up the street from us listed on Weather Underground and it was only about 10 feet off the ground and surrounded by trees. Needless to say, according to that weather station there was never more than two mph of wind. Some stations are open to the west so they are more accurate in any wind direction with west in it and some are open to the east and consequently are more accurate at showing winds from that direction.
My favorite weather app for my phone is Weatherbug. It is nice because it will always find your location and give the forecast for your area. You do, however, have to pick the right station for current conditions. We choose either the Boardwalk Plaza, or Plim Plaza. Both of these are very accurate for determining the current wind speed at Coastal Kayak and it is what we typically go by when determining if it is too windy of send out our sailboats and where to run our tours on windy days.
For the marine forecast we like to use the Weather Underground marine forecast. However, they’ve recently been bought out by The Weather Channel and now it’s tough to navigate their site because they keep changing the layout. (Don’t you hate that??) We also pay $5 annually to be members of Weather Underground so that we can see their Doppler radar out of Dover.
Most importantly, use common sense! If it is a hot steamy day and the clouds are building, no matter what the forecast says, there is a good chance there will be a thunderstorm. On the other hand, if they are forecasting 100% chance of rain and you look out your window and it is sunny and you look at the radar and nothing is heading our way, you’d probably have enough time to enjoy a couple of hours on the water (while monitoring the radar).
Stay safe and have a good time by checking the forecast, the right forecast, before heading out on the water.