Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Tampa Bay Area, FL

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Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Tampa Bay Ruskin FL
800 AM EST Tue Jan 23 2018

...Severe Weather Awareness Week continues through Friday...
...Today is Marine Hazards and Rip Currents Day...

The following hazardous weather topics remain to be discussed...

-Today............Marine Hazards and Rip Currents
-Wednesday........Tornadoes and Thunderstorms
-Thursday.........Hurricanes and Flooding
-Friday...........Temperature Extremes and Wildfires

A variety of marine weather hazards occur along Florida`s gulf
coast. The most common are waterspouts, thunderstorms, sea fog, and
dangerous rip currents due to strong winds behind a cold front or
associated with tropical cyclones.

...Waterspouts...

Waterspouts are much like tornadoes over water, but are usually
weaker. Waterspouts can form with the onset of the gulf coast sea
breeze, normally during the morning and early afternoon hours. They
are most common in Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor where boundaries
collide from several directions.

...Thunderstorms...

A mariner is never safe from thunderstorms. Cloud to water lightning
is the most common hazard. Brief wind gusts to gale force are also
possible, producing a rough and confused sea state in a matter of
moments. Torrential rains can reduce visibility to near zero, and
hail may also accompany the strongest storms.

The most dangerous thunderstorm events are from southeastward-moving
squall lines associated with cold fronts from fall through spring.
In the summer, sea breeze thunderstorms often move back over the
gulf waters during the late afternoon and evening hours, often
producing strong gusty winds, frequent lightning, and sometimes
waterspouts.

...Frontal System Winds...

Marine hazards can develop even when skies are rain-free. Strong
cold fronts can be followed by gusty northwesterly winds, often
reaching to near gale force. Seas can build rapidly, rising from
near calm to 4 to 6 feet and rough in a short period of time. Seas
can reach 12 feet or more within the first 12 hours of the onset of
strong winds. Waves can build to 3 to 5 feet in exposed areas of
Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor, especially with a strong
northeasterly wind.

...Sea Fog...

Sea fog is one of the more underrated marine hazards, but it occurs
quite often in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Sea fog is most
common during the winter and early spring months, when cold post
frontal air allows water near the shore to cool. As warm moist air
moves northward, often ahead of a cold front, the air cools due to
the cooler water temperatures, and fog forms. Sea fog can rapidly
reduce visibility from clear to a half mile or less in a matter of
minutes. The resulting reduction in visibility is dangerous for
mariners, making collision with obstacles near the shore and other
vessels more likely.

...Rip Currents...

Prevailing easterly flow across the Florida peninsula during much of
the year reduces the number of rip current episodes on the Suncoast.
However, for the times when moderate to strong low pressure systems
develop in the central or northern gulf, including Tropical
Cyclones, Rip Currents will develop.

These low pressure systems provide a persistent west or southwest
flow running nearly perpendicular to the shoreline. A rip current
will form when water driven by the onshore flow passes over a
sandbar...causing the water to pile up. The excess water eventually
returns seaward, flowing through low areas in the sandbar or a
channel between sandbars.

Rip Currents are often deadly to those caught unaware or unprepared.
A basic understanding of how to respond if caught in a rip current
can likely save your life.

...Some Safety Rules and Other Information...

...For Waterspouts and Thunderstorms...
- Have an escape plan in mind. Never let thunderstorms cut off your
  route back to land.
- If a thunderstorm threatens, be sure everyone aboard is wearing a
  life jacket. Small boats can quickly overturn in gusty winds.
- If caught in a thunderstorm...go below deck if possible, and stay
  away from masts or ungrounded metal objects.
- Listen to NOAA weather radio for warning information.

...For Frontal System Winds...
- Check forecasts well ahead of time.
- Know the limitations of your boat. If Small Craft Advisories or
  Gale warnings are issued, you may wish to postpone travel.
- Have a VHF Marine band radio on board.

...For Sea Fog...
- Pay close attention to marine forecasts.
- Understand when fog is more likely to occur, when southerly winds
  develop over cool waters in winter and early spring.
- Ensure your boat is equipped with adequate lightning and
  navigation systems to ensure you make others aware of your
  presence, and are able to get back to shore safely in restricted
  visibility.

...For Rip Currents...
- Know your swimming ability in sea waters and currents.
- Always swim at guarded beaches.
- If caught in a rip current, signal for help first. Remain calm,
  then swim parallel to the shore until you are well out of the
  current. When out of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.

For further information about Marine Hazards and Rip Currents,
Please visit the following websites:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/safeboating
http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov
http://www.kidsgetaplan.com

$$


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