Understanding Marine Weather and Water Conditions

Understanding local weather and water conditions is important to being a smart boater. Boaters should always check local weather forecasts before heading out.

There are five wind warnings that boaters should pay close attention to, on the water wind speed is measured in knots. One knot is equivalent to 1.85 km/h.

Marine Wind and Weather Warnings

Light Winds: Light winds are defined as winds with a wind speed less than 12 knots and water surface conditions that are calm or have waves up to 1.5m in height. Light wind conditions are suitable for most vessels and those boat operators with a moderate level of boating experience.

Moderate Winds: Moderate winds are defined as winds with a wind speed of 12 to 19 knots and water surface conditions that are rough with waves from 1 to 3 meters in height. Inexperienced operators or vessels less than 6 m in length should not operate during moderate wind conditions.

Strong Winds & Small Craft Warnings: Strong winds are defined as winds with sustained wind speeds in the range of 20 to 33 knots. Water surface conditions during a strong wind advisory are very rough with waves 3 to 6 m in height. It is not safe to operate a boat in these conditions.

Gale Warning: Gale winds are defined as winds with a continuous speed of 34 to 47 knots. Water surface conditions during a gale warning are extremely rough with waves 6 to 9 m in height. It is not safe to operate a boat in these conditions.

Storm Warning: Storm winds are defined as winds with a continuous speed of 48 to 53 knots. Water surface during a storm warning are extremely rough with waves over 8 m in height. It is not safe to operate a boat under these conditions.

Wind and storm warnings should be taken seriously. Local forecasts are available in your local newspaper, radio, television, and online at Environment Canada or The Weather Network.

Marine weather: small craft warning

Marine weather: Gale warning