Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas winds are here

Windguru and magic seaweed had the christmas winds arriving earlier in the week and just as predicted, they came with a vengence. There is nothing new with this as each year during the winter and especially around christmas we get strong 20-25 mph winds during many days. Yesterday and today its been blowing hard. Windguru usually lets us know about a week in advance that wind surges are coming and this gives us plenty warning to adjust tours and or snorkeling sites if we have to. Most of the time the winds are out of the east which is perfect for our eco tour. The Xtreme tour has to be modified if winds are up to or above 25 knots. This doesn't usually happen more than one or two times a month during the winter. On those days we stay in the protection of the North Sound after visiting stingray city. Whatever happens we try to make the tours fun and safe. We do cancell tours and did this way too many times the winter before last when the winds and rain squalls were terrible. Windguru also does a very good job of predicting cloud cover and rain. Rain is something that makes it more difficult on tours. We cancel more tours because of rain than for any other reason, and if the forecast turns out to be correct and we wake up before dawn with rain bucketing down, we first check the guadeloupe radar which shows actual rain fall, then we correlate that with various satellite cloude cover maps like this one and then we make a decision. Here the radar image below was taken this summer and shows circular rainfall over the southern caribbean when Hurricane Dean was passing. They had torrential rains in the islands to our south that day.
Of course we put both radar and cloud maps in animation (a collection of images taken over hours) to see if the mass of squalls is going to move on before the tour gets started. Another bit of info that we use is swell maps which are very good when planning pick ups at the hotels. This one shows how big the waves are in the atlantic as well as the direction the waves are coming from.
Some days when we have ground swell the weather can be lovely and without checking the swell maps we would never know that there were 5 foot waves pounding hawksbill beach. If all the bits and pieces of info are within reason then the tours go on as normal, but each week we use this info behind the sceens to make sure you are all well taken care of.
If you know me, then you will know its not all just about the job either. Coming from a windsurfing background, the weather sites also help me plan sessions on the water too. Yesterday i was out windsurfing with some of the Sunsail employees, wadadli cats owner Xabier, and Roddy from Aquafilms. As predicted, Half Moon Bay had massive waves and strong winds. IT was perrrrrfect! JD and Tony said that the eco tour was fun inside the protection of the North Sound, but that it was hard to hold down the salad during lunch. Harriet's lovely salad will be blowing all over the boat this week for sure. I would have put more interesting links and pics but my APUA internet is being a real pain in the tail fin today!