Information I Check
One of the things you have to do in any maritime operation is keep track of the weather. It is something that effects absolutely everything about the diving. Weather systems even hundreds of miles away from Cape Hatteras can have direct effects on the diving conditions; large storms offshore can create swells that ruin the visibility or enhance the prevailing winds. Changes in the Gulf Stream can effect the current and water temperatures dramatically, so this bares watching as well.
But of course it is storm fronts and their winds that cause the most direct impact on our diving, due to the waves created by the increased winds. The direction of the wind is as important as the velocity for diving the Hatteras area, with Northeast winds causing the steepest seas.
Hatteras is very changeable in nature, so all cancellations for weather are done at the dock, except in the case of major storms. We can usually rely on the weather service to get those right - but not always...
Weather information is so important to the diving that we have equipped the boat with a satellite downlink receiver that allows access to weather and sea data which can be displayed on the GPS network.
The following are WWW sites that I use for monitoring the weather for our diving.
The Big Picture is the first thing you look at. I like this depiction as it shows the sat picture with the frontal boundaries and is easy to interpret at a glance.
Data Buoy #41025 is now providing the real time info for the Diamond Shoals. We now have good wave data and sea water temps which gives us some current indications!
Diamond Shoals Tower Has been deactivated and no longer produces real-time reports on the winds and seas. But you will still see the tower on trips up to the shoals.
Local Marine Forecast from NDBC/NWS
Sea Surface Temperatures are a good thing to know. These satellite shots are very easy to view and understand.
Billy Mitchell Airfield has a real time weather station called an ASOS (Automated Surface Observation System) that reports 24/7.
Ships at Sea Report their positions and weather often and is graphically depicted here. They also have a simple wave prediction and a good shot of Gulf Stream position and flow which influences our conditions as much as any weather. If the hot water is close to shore, the vis will generally be very good, but currents can be high.
National Hurricane Center Certainly the place to check for serious weather.
Five Day Forecast - This NWS forecast page has not just the five day predictions, but good radar returns and other easy to interpret data. A link on this page will get you to the background discussion that helps explain what the weatherman is thinking.
The Background Discussion - The NWS in Newport produce this information at every forecast cycle. It gives you the thought process behind the public forecast and once you get the hang of reading and understanding the weather jargon is very valuable information. The marine discussion is all the way to the bottom of the page.
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Copyright © 2003 Last modified: September 28, 2011