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Keeping an eye on dangerous weather at sea

These days, weather forecasting is generally pretty good. It's far better than it was for previous generations of sailors and maritime workers. However, it is not perfect. Weather changes often happen quickly and unexpectedly at sea. These can be very dangerous and can even lead to fatal accidents.

The key is to know what to watch out for so that you can be as prepared as possible. It starts with checking the weather carefully along the entire intended route before ever leaving port. But, once you're on the water, you also need to:

  • Look to the west. This is where most severe weather changes originate.
  • Use a barometer. Even if you cannot see a storm coming, a quick pressure drop means it's on the way. This is the same method often used by mountaineers.
  • Watch the temps. As with the pressure changes listed above, temperature drops, especially when combined with notable changes in wind speed and direction, often happen right before a storm.
  • Keep an eye on cloud colors and directions. Vertical, dark clouds are often the most dangerous.
  • Never try to push forward when it's clear that there is too much danger. There's an old saying that you should take any port in a storm. It's true. Even if going to port means delaying the job or going far off of the intended course, safety has to come first.

These tips can help, but weather is always unpredictable and accidents do happen. Those who get injured absolutely need to know all of the legal options they have after a serious incident at sea.

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