Marine and Boating Safety Before a Hurricane

Marine and Boating Safety Before a Hurricane


Keep Your Boat Safe

It’s best to follow the “1-2-3 Rule” when trying to predict where the danger areas are for a hurricane. It refers to the potential error in forecasting for tropical storms and hurricanes — that is, just because a storm is not predicted to strike near your city or harbor, it may change course.

  1. For a forecast of a storm striking within 24 hours, there is a 100 mile error radius.
  2. For a forecast of a storm striking within 48 hours, there is a 200 mile error radius.
  3. For a forecast of a storm striking within 72 hours, there is a 300 mile error radius.

So, each day out the hurricane is, add another 100 miles of error radius.

In order to determine if your boat is in the path of danger, plot both the initial and the current hurricane positions on your navigational chart. Then, identify the maximum radius of winds at the above time periods. Draw circles around the initial position of the hurricane with a radius equal to the max radius of the winds.

Next, draw circles around your 24, 48 and 72 hour positions using the same radii. Connect tangent lines from each circle along both sides of the track of the hurricane. Anywhere enclosed by these tangent lines is a hurricane danger zone and should be avoided.


What If You’re at Sea?

If you’re out at sea and get the notification that a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching, you should try to get to any harbor you can. Of course this isn’t always possible so here are some more tips:

  • Keep a few options open when navigating through a storm.  This maneuverability might not be so important during the great wide spaces of the North Atlantic, but for restricted places like the Gulf of Mexico, it’s really important. It’s best to avoid areas of restricted movement in these cases.
  • On approach to a port, it’s important to know whether the hurricane is forecast to be perpendicular to the land or running parallel along the coast. If the hurricane hits the land within around 50 miles of the port, then expect more destruction than those which run parallel to the coast over the land.
  • Wind direction is very important when you are making your considerations about berthing your boat. Storm surge, for example, can cause lots of problems in itself if your boat is tied to the pier side. If the water rises and falls rapidly then that’s not good for vessels which can be left high and dry one minute, and are high above the pier side the next. These can become quickly submerged even during a hurricane of minimum strength.


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