If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes…
Mark Twain’s famous quote came to mind earlier this week when a picture-perfect summer afternoon in Connecticut suddenly became filled with thunderstorms – complete with hail. For the first time in my life, I was glad I wasn’t on a boat.
The United States Coast Guard knows how dangerous sudden changes in weather can be for boaters, so they put together a few tips to help boaters identify an approaching weather front, and to know what actions to take in sudden severe weather.
Lightning, torrential rain and rough seas can turn a pleasurable outing into a life-threatening ordeal in a heartbeat. Yet unwary boaters are too often taken by surprise, largely because they don’t realize just how fast a storm can come up or the danger it presents.
According to Coast Guard accident data, nearly three percent of all recreational boating accidents are directly related to severe weather conditions that can quickly overwhelm smaller craft. Some thunderstorms, for example, create microbursts – intense downdrafts over an area a half-mile to three miles wide capable of producing wind gusts from 60 mph to more than 100 mph. Microbursts can capsize a small boat or blow a passenger overboard.
No one wants to end up a statistic. The risks of swamping, capsizing, falling overboard or hitting a floating object all increase in stormy weather, so out on the water the most important equipment on board is always a Coast Guard-approved life jacket for all passengers. And plan to err on the side of caution.
Bottom line: weather can be both friend and foe. Boaters who stay alert to weather changes and take appropriate action go a long way toward safeguarding their property and the lives of everyone on board.
Content and photo courtesy United States Coast Guard.