Understanding our Irish Weather
- On 09 01 2013
In the not too distant past we relied on the Irish Sea Area Forecast, the BBC Shipping Forecast, a sketchy synoptic chart on the newspaper or a short TV forecast to get our forecast for going afloat. At the best we could look at a period of up to 24 hours in advance.
Now all has changed! We still use the forecasts above- the Irish Sea Area Forecast is available on RTE Radio 1 at 06:00, 12:50 and 23:50, it is broadcast by the Irish Coastguard on VHF Radio at 01:00 and every 3 hours thereafter, we can get it on the phone by dialling 1550 123855 and we can get it by fax. We can still get the Shipping Forecast on BBC 4, may people have NAVTEX receivers aboard to get the forecast and of course we can get great TV forecasts on several different channels.
The BIG leap forward is the provision of forecasts on the INTERNET. We can now get not just one forecast but dozens - no matter where we are - as long as we have an internet connection! Several of our chart plotters have the facility to overlay weather conditions. We can see bang up to date wind readings from locations all over the world, current Rainfall Radar pictures, current sattelite images, a choice of several different synoptic charts for up to a week in advance, forecasts for rain, cloud, swell, wind and temperatures several days in advance. The choice of forecasts is vast - but which are the best and how do they apply to us?
At SAILCORK we have been interpeting the forecast for our Cork area for many, many years and now we interpet it for may parts of the globe. With the help of our own team and many of our current and past pupils we have compiled a page of links to various forecasts which have relevance to the Irish sailor and indeed to sailors everywhere. We consider these links the best now available to us and we constantly update this page. Since we put the page up several years ago it has been of great benefit to mariners and landlubbers alike attracting up to 1000 hits a week. Please have a look at the SailCork weather page - if you have any suggestions for additions please let us know.
Meteorology is one of the very important subjects in all our navigation courses as well as our powerboat, dinghy and yachting courses. For a number of years we have been running a special short course on Meteorology and Understanding the Weather - this one evening course will be held at the RCYC in Crosshaven on Mon 28 Jan. It is a must for anybody going afloat and is a wise €40 invested in the safety of your boat, your crew and yourself!
It is one thing to have a great list of forecasts but this is useless unless we can interpit the information. Firstly we must have a basic understanding of the way the weather works and be able to read a SYNOPTIC chart. Ireland's weather is dominated by Low Pressure Systems coming in from the Atlantic. These Low Pressure Systems have WEATHER FRONTS embedded in them and this is what gives us our changable weather. Have a look at our presentation on "Lows and Fronts".
If we know what causes certain weather features such as fog and sea breezes we can be far safer afloat and prepare for these changes. Fog can be very frightening and dangerous - so we do need to have knowledge in this area. Here is our presentation on "Fog". During the summer months if we are lucky enough to have a High Pressure system dominating our weather we can see sea breezes - we need to understand why they happen so otherwise we can get caught afloat unawares.
Since ancient times man has looked at the sky to try to fortell what weather is coming. The more we know about clouds the better we can make our own judgement of what conditions are to come. The clouds in the sky fortell the arrival of a distant weatehr front, let us see when wind and rain are coming - all mariners should have a basic understanding of the clouds. Have a look at our presentation on "Clouds".
One very important tip for those of you who wish to progress your ability to inerpet the weather forecast - look at several of the links on the SailCork weather page every day and watch the TV forecast to check that your interpetation is correct. There are several TV forecasts out there but the most relevant and best are the RTE1 TV forecasts presented by meteoroligists from Met Eireann (usually after the News at 18:00 and 21:00). BBC 1 use meteoroligsts as well - they understand the weather and always try to explain the reason behind changes we are experiencing. Match all this with your visual observations and get yourself a baromoter too!
Hopefully this short blog will help to increase your understanding of our Irish Weather - if you go further come along to the SailCork short course on Meteorology and Understanding the Weather - this one evening course will be held at the RCYC in Crosshaven on Mon 28 Jan.
Bookings for SailCork Meteorology and Understanding the Weather now being taken on 021 4811237.