While nasty conditions offshore are generally unpleasant for anyone on any vessel, offshore fishing on an outboard-powered center console typically means that the captain and crew will be more exposed to the wind and seas than the crew of a larger sportfish-type vessel. The smaller-sized center consoles are more prone to taking a beating from the marine conditions than most other vessels. And the center console captain should be up to speed on the latest marine forecasting software, apps and tools currently available in order to make informed weather-related decisions to mitigate unwanted exposure to extreme conditions.
As most center consoles do not have a cabin or enclosed area to protect from the weather, and many do not even have spray curtains, a missed weather call could result in an otherwise avoidable disaster. While the forecast is almost never exactly right, using a combination of forecasting apps and on-the-water tools can significantly reduce the chance of fishing in less-than-desirable conditions.
Reefcast, available on SaltwaterCentral.com, is an extremely useful marine weather forecasting tool. The program uses a variety of weather models, including the Euro and GFS, to predict wave height, wave period, wind chop, wind direction, wind speed and other important information to give an accurate marine forecast for a period of one to seven days.
Reefcast also provides an ensemble forecast tool that shows a graph forecast of nine weather models. This tool is extremely useful, as when most models are in agreement, the forecast has a high probability of being right. Sometimes, the models may be scattered across the forecast spectrum, and this is a good way to know that the forecast is a little more uncertain. The Reefcast forecast is typically spot on, and, since it uses samples from all the forecasting models to generate a marine weather forecast, it is typically far more reliable than simply checking the NOAA marine forecast for a certain area.
Windy, Windfinder and More
There are also wind and marine forecasting apps available for your smartphone such as Windy and Windfinder, among others. Windfinder and Windy both have interactive maps that show predicted wind speeds for a period of up to seven days. These apps are useful for gaining a good idea of how the wind will move through the region, the direction of the wind, wind speed and the duration of peak gusts. The downside of these apps is that they rely on only one weather model for making the wind predictions. However, using the wind apps as an additional tool in conjunction with other marine forecasting tools will help develop a better understanding of the potential weather conditions where you are planning to fish offshore.
Sirius XM Weather
Sirius XM weather is one of the best tools available for on-the-water real-time weather information and marine forecasting. XM weather offers an incredible in-depth radar overlay for thunderstorm activity coupled with real time special marine warning alerts when hazardous conditions may be possible. Available across most brands of multifunction displays, XM weather is a must-have for the serious offshore crew. The XM platform allows the user to access real-time doppler and satellite radar conditions, current wind speeds and observation data from various weather stations across the marine area, as well as NOAA marine forecasting services to allow for captains and crews to see real-time weather updates while offshore. The ability to observe weather conditions in real-time while offshore is a tool that no crew should overlook.
While there is always a chance of encountering unfavorable conditions offshore on any trip regardless of planning, modern weather forecasting technology gives crews a very good idea of the conditions that may be encountered during most offshore trips. Utilize as much information as possible and decide what forecasting tools are the most reliable for the region you plan to fish. By arming yourself with as much weather forecasting information as possible, planning and executing an offshore trip should be free of stress. And your confidence in the marine conditions should aid in planning an enjoyable day offshore.
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