Reading the Clouds

Experienced boaters know that the weather can not only make or break your boating, it can even be dangerous. Some storms even seem to develop within the blink of an eye and come from out of nowhere. That’s why checking the weather is imperative if you are planning some time out on the water.

These days, while we have a treasure trove of quite reliable weather tools at our disposal, such as satellite and doppler radar; one of the best ways to protect yourself and your boat passengers remains keeping a vigilant eye to the sky. When looking for signs of impending storms, here are some important things to take into account: 

Clouds form when there is moisture in the atmosphere. So, since they are one of the first indicators that a storm may be on its way, always read the clouds. Cirrus clouds, which are the wispy ones, and stratus clouds, which appear in what look like layers, are both high altitude clouds that are pretty innocuous. However, cumulus clouds, which are the big puffy ones, can become ominous when they are nimbus, which means dark. The more moisture in the clouds, the darker they will be.

Cloud formation is important too. Obviously, clear skies are optimal, but when low clouds begin to fill the sky, a storm may be brewing. Cool air usually accompanies thickening cloud cover, so try to pay attention to any breezes picking up as well.

Believe it or not, some old proverbs are actually helpful too when it comes to predicting weather, such as, “A red sky at night is a fisherman’s delight, but a red sky in the morning means sailors should take warning!”

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