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Sailing Weather Forecast Watching Clouds!

Leave all the complicated Sailing Weather Forecast apps and gadgets behind as you’ll not need them after reading this article. We’ll let you know how a sailor can predict the weather utilizing a tool they always carry, their eyes! Learn the language of the clouds and become an independent forecaster.

Sailing Weather Forecast Watching Clouds!

Sailing Weather Forecast Watching Clouds!

The history of sailing shows that seadogs have been one step ahead of scientists, creating more accurate and easy-to-utilize methods for sailing weather forecast.

So, in this article of Sailingyes, we’ll teach you how uncomplicated it is to employ their techniques and predict the sailing weather using only your eyes—watching clouds!

Avoid Relying on the TV & Radio Weather Forecast

When you here on the news that there’s 30% of the precipitation, it only means that there’s one in three chance to get 0.10 of an inch rain in a rain gauge. So, you can’t rely on its exactness regarding navigational usage.

Normal people may not mind a bit of inaccuracy. But precision is the key to plan a sailing trip. Unfortunately, the predictions offered by TV or radio channels are not precise enough for on-water use. They are near-to-correct assumptions based on the overall data gathered in a certain period. That’s while the weather conditions constantly change.

Official and public announcements about the meteorological circumstances are always sensationalized to some extent. And that’s why you better off without taking them into account while seafaring. Here’s what to do instead!

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future

Predicting the Weather With Clouds:

Sailors have always been looking for some ways to stay ahead of the climatic circumstances as it’s been a matter of life and death. However, the good news is that they did find some methods to predict the meteorological conditions before it’s too late. And the most important one of them requires only two eyes!

By contrast to other classic forecasting techniques such as weather rock, sky observation is very simple. You just need to employ the ancestors’ experience and determine what the smokes in the sky have to tell you.

Below you can find pictures of 8 most common cloud types of the northern hemisphere along with explanations of what they should mean to a seadog.

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future-Cumulus


They usually tend to cover a large area while staying close to each other. Also, these flat-based puffy masses are mainly white, and they tend to be the precursors of other kinds.

Cumulus is not a sign of a storm or other comparable intense situations as they only produce low chances of precipitation. However, major and sudden changes in air humidity or temperature may lead them to form the cumulonimbus, a very precipitative type.

So, it’s suggested to keep an eye on factors like air humidity and temperature as well. Combining such data with sky observation is the best approach to predict future weather conditions.

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future-Stratus


Determining Stratus is not complicated at all. They are more of an above-ground fog than clouds. So, they form a seamless surface over a region covering a large area. The reason behind their formation is 1) having the morning fog lifted and 2) the movement of cold air at a low latitude above a zone.

When having the Stratus over the area you’re about to navigate, expect poor atmospheric phenomena. Plus, bear in mind that it’s a sign of the possibility of having light rain.

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future-Stratocumulus


If you’d have the chance to look at cells with a microscope, they’d seem very similar to stratocumulus. These lumpy, gray, and low vapor forms sometimes tend to spread out while other times they line up in rows.

You should assume light raining in the form of drizzle when a group of stratocumulus is around. But that might only be the tip of the iceberg. Meteorological circumstances have shown us that Stratocumulus appears at the extreme ends of storms. So, don’t underestimate them, and keep your eyes open when navigating beneath such masses.

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future-Cumulonimbus


Being a high-altitude cloud, Cumulonimbus’s upper surface is always smooth and flat. That’s because the wind at the height of ten kilometers polishes the higher shallows, making them look even. The lower layer, however, stays lumpy and uneven.

They are a good reason to postpone your cruising trip as they’re always associated with hails, thunderstorms, tornadoes, lightning, and heavy raining.

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future-Altocumulus


They are two-sided masses with one flank looking darker than the other. Indeed, altocumulus would seem like a greyish-white form traveling slowly in a group. They don’t have a habit of staying too close to each other, but you cannot observe a large space between them either.

The key point for sailing weather forecast is considering the actual temperature and humidity of the air. If, for instance, you notice them on a hot humid day, there’s a large chance of facing thunderstorms by late afternoon.

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future-Altostratus


You may notice that the title is implying a relationship with the Stratus. That’s because altostratus is an above-ground formation just like the stratus. However, there are huge dissimilarities to consider when comparing these two phenomena as well.

Altostratus tends to form at higher latitudes and create a grey to blue-grey hue in the sky. You may be able to observe the moon or sun behind its foggy structure. But both will look watery and hazy.

It habitually develops just before a storm, indicating that heavy raining and thunderstorms are around the corner. Sailing weather forecast after observing altostratus is quite easy as the chances of facing intense settings are large. We recommend you to cancel your trips in such situations—and prepare yourself for storms.

Watch Clouds and Predict the Future-Nimbostratus


In a nutshell, when the altostratus starts to rain, it becomes nimbostratus. In other words, the nimbostratus is the raining altostratus. They have a dark surface and associate with the heavy rains as well as hails, and thunderstorms.

If you see them up in the sky as you’re seafaring, it might be too late. You better try to get to the shore before the storm hits you or prepare the crew and vessel for the severe situations.

What the Wind Has to Do with the Weather?

The air flows cyclonically around a pressure system. If its direction changes—anticyclonic divergent or cyclonic convergent—it often means low-pressure of a front is influencing the area.

For example, a wind from the south indicates that warmer air is approaching. That’s while an airstream coming from the north shows that colder air is moving toward you. Moreover, when the airstream path shifts hurriedly, it may point out that there’s a frontal passage in the zone or a thunderstorm has changed the airstream path.

So, you should take the wind direction into account in the realm of the sailing weather forecast.


Reference (s):

Sailing Fundamentals

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