Chris Bedford's Summer Race Day Forecast Links
Chris Bedford's Summer Race Day Forecast Links
When trying to figure out what the weather will be like before a big race day, inexperienced competitors sometimes make the mistake of jumping right to the forecast. They want to know how strong the wind will be and what direction. If the forecast is a good one, this may not be a mistake. However almost every forecast has at least a little bit of error, and a general overview of the weather can help take some of the mystery out of things when the reality strays from prediction.
Following are some internet links targeted to summer racing areas -- Newport, R.I., Kingston, Ontario, and Chicago -- however other popular racing areas are also included. Great care has been taken to select reliable links, that are run either by official sources or have been around for a long time. However data availability is not guaranteed. Always check the map times to make sure you are looking at the latest available information. Also, make sure your web browser has caching turned OFF. Caching may prevent you from seeing the latest information even if it is posted. Hitting "Refresh" or "Reload" often will also usually solve issues related to Caching.
Whenever using the internet for weather information, we have to include an important disclaimer. Weather forecasts and other weather related information found on the internet should not be substituted for official National Weather Service (NWS) forecast and warning information issued by local NWS offices. You should monitor your local NOAA broadcast on VHF or other official sources.
First off, get a general weather picture by checking out the lasted official weather map from the National Weather Service. This will tell you where the major weather feature are located.
Next, drill down a little further and find out what kind of weather is being reported around the region.
For the NE US and Lake Ontario, surface conditions on land are updated hourly at http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/surface/sfc_alb.gif
For Chicago and Lake Michigan, check out http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/surface/sfc_dtw.gif
Offshore weather can be checked at http://www.ems.psu.edu/wx/buoydata/curr/usneatl.gif
Note: It takes about 30 minutes for offshore data to update, so check out these links between 30 and 60 minutes after the hour. You can get previous hours data at: http://www.ems.psu.edu/cgi-bin/wx/offshore.cgi
To find out whats happening offshore in better detail, check out the buoy reports from the NOAA.
For the NE US go to: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Northeast.shtml
For CORK on Lake Ontario, go to: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/EastGL.shtml
For Chicago and Lake Michigan, go to: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/WestGL.shtml
Surface observations tell you whats happening at a particular point, but not in between. One way to help fill in the blanks is to look at the satellite imagery. Here are some links to help you out in Newport and at CORK:
Visible Still Image (Daylight Only) - http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/latest_ALB_vis.jpg
Visible Loop ( Daylight Only) http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/displaySat.php3?region=ALB&isingle=multiple&itype=vis
Infrared Still Image (All hours) - http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/latest_ALB_irbw.jpg
Infrared Loop (All hours) - http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/displaySat.php3?region=ALB&isingle=multiple&itype=irbw
For Chicago and Lake Michigan, the satellite images are at the following links:
Visible Still Image (Daylight Only) - http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/latest_DTW_vis.jpg
Visible Loop ( Daylight Only) http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/displaySat.php3?region=DTW&isingle=multiple&itype=vis
Infrared Still Image (All hours) - http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/latest_DTW_irbw.jpg
Infrared Loop (All hours) - http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/satellite/displaySat.php3?region=DTW&isingle=multiple&itype=irbw
Rain can significantly impact the winds, especially when there are individual showers or thunderstorms around. Check out the following links to the latest radar images.
Once youve got a good overview of whats happening, take a look at the official forecasts for the area in which you will be sailing. Pay particular attention to any warnings or advisories that may be active for the area.
National Weather Service Forecasts
Southeast New England/Newport - http://twister.sbs.ohio-state.edu/text/marine/nearshore/FZUS51.KBOX
Lake Ontario/CORK - http://twister.sbs.ohio-state.edu/text/marine/nearshore/FZUS51.KBUF
For CORK, check out the official Canadian Forecasts at
A number of forecast models are executed which make predictions of the weather across the country. Familiarize yourself with predictions from one of the more widely used models at:
Some higher resolution models will give you a more detailed prediction:
Note - watch valid map times carefully!
For New England /Newport: http://maps.fsl.noaa.gov/disp_20km.cgi?sa2_surf_wind+ne
For CORK and Chicago: http://maps.fsl.noaa.gov/disp_20km.cgi?sa2_surf_wind+gl