Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blowing stink


The cyclonic system affecting our weather today.


Weather, the ever challenging concern for the blue water sailor

Our sailing club cancelled racing for today several days ago when it became clear that we would be experiencing gale force conditions with periods of storm force winds from the wee hours of Sunday into the late hours of Monday.  Right now, we have driving rain and we've already had 23 mm of it.  There are sunny spells in between but the wind is relentless. I worry about Aleria out on her mooring. But she's been through worse out there on her own.

The cyclonic system causing our weather is actually passing over Iceland so we are getting the southern portion of its rotation. We had westerlies yesterday and are now into southwesterlies so a big chunk has already passed by. No sailing this weekend.

Wind Guru helps us plan for the in between times. 
Sailing so weather dependent. It's not like running or football, which can happen almost no matter what the weather.  I wonder what will happen with the acceleration of climate change.  I guess we should get out there now while we still can.

At least weather prediction services like WindGuru and Passage Weather are getting pretty good at long range weather forecasting. It's not unusual for them to be right five to seven days in advance. That doesn't help entirely on a 21 day ocean crossing, but it can help you get down the coast of Europe or America in moderately safe conditions. If you pay attention, that is.

I think about the terrible floods in Colorado, with 6 foot deep drops of hail, thunder and lightning, rivers raging, bridges and roads collapsing, people being swept away with their homes. More than a foot of rain has fallen this month compared with 5 inches in most years. And there's more to come they say. The main road between Colorado and Wyoming is closed and many people are stranded in Rocky Mountain canyons cut off from civilization by roads swept away by raging creeks. 

Storm raging in our inlet. 
Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast earlier this year and there are weather anomalies happening everywhere.  We heard from friends sailing in the Pacific that it is uncharacteristically "murky" this year. The people who thought global warming had opened up a whole new cruising ground in the Northwest passage and other Arctic and Antarctic regions learned what climate change really means when the passages suddenly froze over trapping lots of boats in the ice. I wonder what Jimmy Cornell's Blue Planet Odyssey is going to encounter. At least he's making money by publishing books with revised routes and creating rallies for experienced and inexperienced sailors to go ever farther afield.

What is the future of our sport?  Will sailing be limited in the future by extreme conditions or will things moderate?  Will we learn to deal with the challenging conditions or will we swallow our anchors and hunker down ashore? The newer forecasting models used in Europe are pretty accurate but it's sometimes hard to get out of the way in time. The older models like the GFS system the Americans used are now outdated and no longer as predictive given the changing climate.  We as sailors are so attuned to weather because our lives depend on it. Shore dwellers aren't as aware and can get caught in terrible anomalies.

I just don't know where it's going, but I get the sense that the pace at which it is getting there is accelerating. God help us all. Gaia has awoken.

No comments:

Post a Comment