Summer is in full swing - we have pulled out the boats and jet skis and are enjoying time with our friends and family on the nearest body of water. Even though you are having fun, don't forget that summer is peak thunderstorm season. Make sure you know the signs of severe weather and are familiar with broadcast weather advisories and their meanings.
Anytime you're on the water in a larger vessel, such as a house boat or motor boat, make sure you have a NOAA weather radio available. if you're using a smaller craft, such as jet ski, canoe or kayak, make sure you check the weather forecast to see if there's any chance of local storms. Also, make sure someone on land is aware of your itinerary and expected return time. This way, someone is available to start a search if you do not return, in case of a catastrophic event.
When listening to advisories, it is important to understand the information being broadcast. Here are a few of the important advisories you may hear:
A Small Craft Advisory indicates sustained weather or water conditions, either presently or forecast to be hazardous to small boats or water craft. Issued when winds of greater than 20 mph are expected.
A Gale Warning indicates a wind range of 37 to 54 mph; or tropical cyclone winds from 37 - 72 mph.
A Storm Warning indicates winds in excess of 55 mph.
A Special Marine Warning is issued whenever a severe local storm or strong winds burst are occuring or are imminent, but is not covered by any other warning.
Stop by your local Bass Pro Shops and check out the variety of NOAA weather radios that are available. One such radio is the LaCrosse Technology Handheld NOAA Weather Radio. The AM/FM radio features all seven of the NOAA Weather bands and a red alert LED that flashes when a warning has been issued.
Check out www.weatherbug.com for even more weather- and boating-related safety tips.