Mid-February Tampa Bay weather is largely controlled by the passage (or lack of a passage) of cold fronts moving in from the northwest. These fronts introduce veering and unstable north-northwest flow, followed by north then eventually northeasterly flow characterized by gusty and shifty conditions in near-shore zones. The above is just a generalization, however, as Mother Nature always holds the upper hand on the weather. Such was the case last year: high pressure was the dominant player, with a stalled cold front holding south of the Tampa Bay region resulting in light wind conditions.
A quick look at the graphs for last year’s St. Pete NOOD show why it was a challenging event–no wind! In fact, it was so light that the St. Pete Pier failed to report through the morning on the first day. However, as each day progressed the pattern slowly changed and a subtle sea breeze filled in Saturday and Sunday (but just barely).
Looking at the weather pattern for NOOD St. Pete 2007, we appear to be in a much better position for winds. The progressive frontal pattern has returned, and long range models indicate a secondary front on Sunday, which may offer quite the contrast in winds to last year’s drifter. Unseasonably cold and gusty, this cool air will tend to keep the winds from first the northwest then gradually shifting to the north-northeast as they slacken off. If we see the synoptic winds slacken enough, we may begin to see slight undercuts of southerlies. But timing of the fronts looks to keep the chilly northerlies lingering.
Knowing what forces are driving these winds is of great importance to gaining the edge on your competition. Sailflow.com provides real-time sensors as well as forecast products complimentary through the race period
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