A Brief description of the weather sites that our pilots use for forecasts:
- British Met Office: www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/marine. This site gives the land weather forecast for your local weather (type in Dover for this area). You can get the marine weather by going to "marine" option in the left hand boxes. This will give you the choice of the:
- Shipping forecast ( you need find the Dover area). This is updated every 6 hours or so and is for the next 24 hour period as stated at the top of the page.
- Inshore waters forecast (North Foreland to Selsey Bill). This gives the wind expected at sea up to 12 miles from land for the next 24 hours from the time of update. It also gives the expected forecast for the following 24 hours, giving you an idea of weather expected for a total of 48 hours. It is also updated every 6 hours and includes any strong wind forecasts (force 6 and over)
- Surface pressure forecast: These charts of surface pressure, from analysis time at midnight today (T+0) and then at 12 hourly predition intervals until the 84-hour future forecast (T+84) are produced daily around 0730 UTC (830 BST). You need to be able to understand the way they are read and understand what the different fronts and troughs are doing to get a good idea of the future prediction but basically the wider apart the lines the better the forecast. Winds travel clockwise around High Pressures and anti-clockwise around Low Pressures. They travel in a general direction of West to East across the screen.
- BBC weather: www.bbc.co.uk/weather. This gives the same information as the Met office but in a much simpler form. It gives the pressure charts predictions for the next 5 days but only on a 24 hour (midday) prediction without all the extra "squiggles" to confuse you. The Shipping Forecast is often for multiple areas. Inshore waters is the same as Met office forecast. Land forecast for the area has less detail.
- Sandettie Lightship: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=62304. This site tells you what is happening mid Channel on the Sandettie Lightship buoy. It records weather conditions at hourly intervals and the website displays the data for the past 24 hours. You can find wind speed and direction, water and air temperatures, wave heights and periods, visibility, dew point and a more via the read out and graphs. Wave heights are always shown as less than actual but it is a good indication of what is happening. (see the site note on wave heights).