Be Weather Aware During Stormy Weather

Dodging waves during sunny and calm weather can be great fun.  However, on a stormy day just 15cm of water can knock you off your feet quite easily.  What seems like fabulous fun to dodge waves that crash over harbour walls or onto a beach can easily lead to disaster during stormy weather conditions.

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Ramsgate All Weather Lifeboat – Photo credit : Sarah Hewes

There have been many video’s and images shared online showing people risking their lives ‘dodging waves’ or taking ‘storm selfies’ during extreme weather conditions.  This blog is designed to give you a better awareness of the risks associated with stormy weather and what you can do to stay safe.  The video clip below illustrates this point very well. Fortunately, in this case no one was injured, but it could have been a totally different story.

Choppy water and strong currents (such as severe weather or spring tides), can sap the energy even of the most experienced sea goers.    If sea conditions are rough then don’t enter the water.  If you are in the water and the conditions change don’t take a chance but get out and wait until conditions become calmer.

Here are our 5 tips to help keep you safe during stormy weather:

1. Rip Currents

Rips are strong currents running out to sea between waves, which can quickly drag people and debris away out to deeper water.  They are especially powerful in larger surf, but never underestimate the power of any water. More information on rip currents can be found here.

2. Check weather forecasts

Keep a keen eye on the weather forecasts and tides.  There are numerous smart device apps which will provide information for free. The Met Office is a good source of weather forecast information and you can also sign-up for their email alerts and follow the Met Office on their social media channels.

Always seek local advice in advance before heading outdoors during severe weather.  Harbour offices and lifeguards (during the season) will be a good way of ascertaining local information such as tide tables.  Local RNLI and HM Coastguard Teams often run their own local social media channels which can be an excellent way of finding out local severe weather warnings and knowledge.  If you are taking part in an activity such as kifesurfing, kayaking or sailing then a local club will be able to pass on information about local conditions and hazards.

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3. Check your local environment

Storms can alter the landscape of some beaches, changing or damaging access points, or even creating new areas for rip currents.

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4. Beware of large waves

Even from the shore, large breaking waves can sweep you off your feet and drag you out into the sea. It is the wave in the middle of a set which is often bigger and can reach further up the beach or along a promenade.  The RNLI call this the ‘7th Wave’.  Driving through area’s which have been flooded or close to harbours during stormy weather can also be dangerous.

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5. Realising the risks

Realising the risks and making small changes can help you and your friends or family safe whilst still enjoying the coast:

  • Always carrying a means of calling for help on your activity such as a mobile phone or VHF radio in a waterproof case is a great idea
  • Tell someone where you are going and when is the latest time that you will be returning
  • Areas where you normally walk maybe slippery
  • Be careful around exposed headlands as gusts of wind and large waves can put you in potentially dangerous situations
  • If you see or hear a person or animal in the water dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard

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Often the best way of enjoying stormy weather is to observe it from a coffee or tea shop with a nice cuppa in your hand and something nice to eat! RNLICommunitysafety RNLIseasafety RNLIwatersafety Respectthewater bewateraware stormyweather beweatheraware severeweather stormwarning

Check your tide times – useful links

National Tidal and Sea Level Facility

Admiralty East Tides

Useful weather internet sites

Windfinder

Met Office

XC Weather

Acknowledgements

RNLI and HM Coastguard

Picture credit : Sarah Hewes


Andy Mills

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Striving to reduce accidental drownings by 50% by 2024 by spreading key safety messages to Thanet communities and its visitors.