Six things you need to know about wind warnings

Checking for wind warnings is the most important of the Five Vital Weather Safety Checks.

When a wind warning is issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, marine radio operators will broadcast the latest forecast information on marine radio.  If you are out on the water, keep your ear tuned into the following six wind warning features to ensure you arrive home safely.

1. When will the wind warning conditions start?

Skippers should assess whether they have enough time to get back to port before the wind picks up, or do you need to take precautions and seek shelter.

2. What speed will the wind reach?

A Strong Wind Warning starts at 26 knots, and a Gale Warning starts at 34 knots. As a skipper, you need to be aware of what wind conditions your vessel can handle, and take steps to avoid times with stronger winds.

Strong wind warning  Winds averaging from 26 knots and up to 33 knots.
Gale warning  Winds averaging from 34 knots and up to 47 knots.
Storm force wind warning  Winds averaging from 48 knots and up to 63 knots.
Hurricane force wind warning  Winds averaging 64 knots or more.


3. What area is the wind warning for?

The Bureau will specify which areas of the State are affected by the wind warning. As a skipper, you should be familiar with the names of the Bureau’s Coastal Waters zones before you head out on your trip.

4. What direction will the wind be from?

The Bureau’s forecasts will indicate what direction the wind will be coming from. With passing fronts or low pressure systems, wind directions may change suddenly. If you are seeking shelter, be prepared to move your vessel when the wind direction changes for safety.

5. Is there any bad weather expected?

A cold front is generally associated with heavy showers, thunderstorms and squally winds. The Bureau’s forecast will indicate what type of weather is expected, and skippers should activate their low visibility heightened risk procedures.

6. When will the warning conditions cease?

Knowing how long the wind warning may last will help skippers determine their risk management plans. The Bureau’s forecast indicates when winds are expected to ease.

Upon hearing of a wind warning, skippers should seek further information from the Bureau’s forecasts via marine radio (VHF or HF) or the Bureau’s website .

The Bureau’s forecast may indicate if the wind speeds will be stronger offshore compared to inshore.  The Bureau’s marine wind maps on MetEye enable you to obtain a detailed wind forecast for the area you are planning to operate in.  In these cases, skippers should exercise additional caution just in case conditions worsen suddenly.