Judging Weather 101:
Do I make the trip down or do I not? Is your plan to make the early morning drive down to the dive center for a morning charter out to the reef? What about weather?
First and foremost; check the forecast for the day of diving. There are many sites you can use to look at this information however, the site that Horizon Divers refers to is the NOAA website. Specifically, the National Data Buoy Center. Refer to Station MLRF1- Molasses Reef, FL for the projected forecast for diving in Key Largo. This site gives you hour to hour wind readings at the Molasses Reef tower.
The picture above is a screen-shot of what the site looks like on your mobil device. Notice in the middle of the picture is says “Conditions at MLRF1 as of….”; every hour you will get the wind direction and speed! As you scroll down on the site you will see the report for each hour from what the winds were doing overnight; also very helpful information when wondering whether it might be the perfect day for you to dive.
Things to look for:
What direction is the wind blowing from?
- ESE and SE are directions that can make the seas challenging if the wind is blowing strong enough
- Anything out of the N or W make diving conditions pretty darn good; even if the wind is blowing strong!
How strong is the wind blowing?
- When you see the word “variable”; that is usually a good sign. You will see occasionally “variable” winds 5-10 knots; also a great day on the water!
- 20 knots out of the north is still a decently doable day; expect some chop and maybe 3′ seas generally. On the other hand, 20 knots out of the SE means much more violent seas; expect 3-5 maybe some 6′ sloppy choppy seas!
- If you see 20+ out of the SE, double check with the dive center and see if they will be running their boats!
Note: Most dive shops won’t be able to tell you the night before if the trips will be cancelled the following morning due to wind. Why? There is still over 12 hours of time from when the shop closes to when the boat leaves in the morning for the weather to calm down considerably! Those numbers on the NOAA website, specifically those over-night wind numbers, are what we will look at in the morning to judge whether the trip goes.
When in doubt; call the dive shop! We can at least give you an idea on what conditions are at the present moment and what we expect to see based on the above reports.
Fins up! ( As Jimmy Buffett would say)