Do You Understand Storms?

Storm Preparation Guide: Part one

If you are heading into a storm, you need to prepare. We’ll be providing checklists and considerations in the coming weeks.

Part one of Understanding Storms is about tracking them and avoiding the worst.

Weather: you must obtain weather forecasts from different sources if possible. Synoptic charts are important to understand the complete picture (Click here for a description on synoptic charts and here to understand how to read them).

Obtain weather forecasts and track the storm’s position and movement. Try not to rely on one source of information. Wear a life jacket and issue one to all on board, making sure they put them on. Work out the best track to sail (the safe/dangerous semi-circle – see below). Get some sleep before the storm arrives, if you can.

By understanding storms you can work out the best track to sail should you be caught in one. In the northeast of Australia, cyclones generally move in a south-westerly direction before curving towards the south or southeast. Clearly there are no guarantees though.

cyclone season storm preparation

This is a picture of a southern hemisphere cyclone. Cyclones spin clockwise in the southern hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere.

The dangerous semi-circle of a cyclone is to the right of an approaching cyclone path. This area has the strongest winds and it is the direction the cyclone is expected to move.

To evade a cyclone in the southern hemisphere: if you are in the navigable semi-circle, keep the wind on your port quarter and manoeuvre away from the cyclone. If you are in the dangerous semi-circle, keep the wind on your port bow and try to manoeuvre away from the vortex.

Clearly, no part of a cyclone is safe. But in the navigable sections, you will have a better chance of escaping the path of the vortex.

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