If you don’t like the weather……..
We all know the old saying about the weather changing by the minute.
Lake Tahoe’s weather can certainly be called temperamental. On a
typical summer day the temperature can reach 90 in the afternoon
and plummet to the 30’s at night. It makes for great sleeping weather
in a cabin by the lake, but it might be a little chilly if you are
boat camping. Although we do enjoy the full range of weather for
the most part it is predictable. We can usually expect calm flat
morning water, which is great for water skiing, late afternoon winds
and white caps for the land locked sailor, and thunderstorms for
someone who wants to thumb their nose at Mother Nature.
Boaters have a special need to know about the weather. The first
step in avoiding weather problems is, "Know before you go".
Most commercial radio stations regularly broadcast weather forecasts.
It would be a good idea to make a habit of listening to them, beginning
at least the night before you plan your boat trip. The National
Weather Service out of Reno, Nevada broadcasts weather forecasts
for the High Sierra and the Lake Tahoe basin. They broadcast on
162.55, 162.4, 162.475 MHz on your boat’s VHF-FM radio. These frequencies
are normally just above the commercial FM band so they will probably
not included on the ordinary FM sets. If your boat is not equipped
with a radio (not legally required, but highly recommended) you
may consider buying an inexpensive weather radio, which continuously
broadcasts the National Weather Service forecasts.
If you are already out on the lake it may be a good idea to recognize
approaching deteriorating weather so you can make a dignified retreat
to your dock, buoy, or launch ramp. If you notice:
- Clouds lowering and thickening
- Clouds increasing in number, moving fast across the sky
- Veils or sheets of gray cloud increasing on the western horizon
- Clouds moving in different directions at different heights
- Wind shifts from north to east and possible through east to
- Strong winds that start in the morning because the longer the
wind blows the larger the waves
Putting a boat back on a trailer in bad weather can be a bummer.
If you are loosing the race back to the boat ramp you might want
to wait out the storm in some sort of safe haven. Because most of
our weather comes from the Pacific the east shore of Lake Tahoe
is the least protected usually getting the worst of the winds and
waves the western shore protected by the mountain offers more protection.
Gunk holing in Emerald Bay, Meek’s Bay, or any protective cove on
the west shore may be a good idea. If you don’t know how to anchor
out don’t get stuck in bad weather until I cover anchoring in a
later column. If you find yourself a considerable distance from
a safe haven you will have to prepare for bad weather.
- Reduce your speed
- Make sure that you and your passengers are wearing PFDs
- Proceed with caution to the nearest safe harbor
- Approach large waves at a 45-degree angle
- Keep everyone seated and as low as possible in your boat
- Secure all loose gear
- Close all hatches and portholes
Did you ever hear the old saying "If you don’t like the weather
wait a minute"? Well that holds true for most bad weather too.