We reveal the meteorology of the new millennium (and how to use it)

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“There is no good or bad weather but good or bad equipment.” Riccardo Ravagnan, Meteo Forecast & Services Manager at Meteomed, quotes Robert Baden-Powell when we ask him why it is important, even for short coastal sailings, to know the weather conditions we are going to face. Today, in the age of weather on board 2.0, where thanks to applications and services dedicated to the boater (Meteomed is among the most important) we can know with a good approximation what will happen around us in real time and in the future, it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. “You can go to sea even in disturbed weather,” Ravagnan continues, “if you know the weather patterns correctly and have the necessary equipment on board. Sometimes we are not allowed to choose but find ourselves sailing during changing conditions, this happens frequently during cruises. Having a good forecast allows us to return to port early, prepare the boat for bad weather, or choose to sail further down the coast.”

Pictured above is an example of Meteorotta, an exclusive feature offered by Meteomed.

METEOROLOGY 2.0
Subject to the basic principles of meteorology (which we will discuss later), assuming you will listen to the weather report on Vhf Channel 68, how has the world of forecasting changed? “The real strengths of the change that has occurred in the instruments are the portability and the services that are generated from the weather data. For example, our product can be consulted from all platforms: pc browser, tablet, smartphone, automatic and periodic text messages and emails, weather forecasts through an automatic responder that replicates and optimizes the famous Channel 68: difficult not to find a way to have the forecast updated every day. New mathematical models allow for reliable data, especially within the first 48 hours. The work of meteorologists, before the data is published, refers to numerical validation and support related to local phenomena that may generate the inaccuracy of the data on a specific location. This precision becomes most useful to those who go to sea for passion but also to the whole world of racing, in which meteorology is the basis of strategic choices.”

The synoptic service by port (in this case the Porto Cervo Marina, Costa Smeralda).

OROGRAPHY, THIS UNKNOWN
Of course, data must be interpreted, but how? “The key elements are necessarily all those phenomena that locally condition territories. Orography is one of them, in fact in our models we have improved digital elevation models as well as included more defined bathymetries. Drawing the coastline correctly, for example, is another key point. In some locations, such as Stintino in Sardinia, some models may not recognize that piece of land as part of the region but see only sea. Tightening the resolution mesh is a job that is by no means a foregone conclusion, the conditions of the terrain must be reproduced, and the number of calculations the computer must make to produce the data increases requiring significant computing power and long processing times. Produced the data validation by the forecaster is crucial, what was once the experience of the ‘local’ must now be the micrometeorological competence of the forecaster.”

The system of settable and customized alerts

HOW THE WEATHER CHANGES
Now, then, it is also possible to know how the weather will evolve during navigation, “This is our exclusive feature, it’s called Meteorotta. From the site, simply plot the route by choosing the point or port of departure and arrival, set the average speed, and choose the day and time of departure (with a 150-hour time horizon, hour-by-hour detail, and with an accuracy of up to 2.5 miles) to immediately obtain detailed hour-by-hour marine weather information along the entire route. One can also plot Meteorottes composed of multiple routes, and save them so that they are always ready and up-to-date for reference by changing the date and time of departure.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF ALERTS
Also of interest is the possibility of establishing “customized” alert systems (e.g., in the roadstead, if the wind is going to pick up to more than a few knots, or if we know that the port where we are moored is facing east): “I think it’s one of our workhorses. The ease with which forecasts come ‘looking for you’ breaking down the frustration of having to look on dozens of sites that all say different things I think is the real strength of our system. Each service is fully customizable to your needs, and you can set up automatic and periodic communications, as well as exceptional alerts, so that you always have the forecast on your device.”

Riccardo Ravagnan

MEDITERRANEAN AREAS “AT RISK”
While we’re at it, let’s take advantage of the meteorologist Riccardo Ravagnan: let’s say we have to make a Mediterranean sailing in the summertime this year. What areas will need to be paid more attention to from a weather perspective and why? “From a statistical point of view, the most turbulent areas of the Mediterranean, even in the summertime, are first and foremost the Aegean Sea and then the islands of Greece, which are very often battered by the Meltemi, a northerly wind that even in high-pressure conditions can blow with gusts of more than 30 knots. Another sometimes critical area is the Strait of Gibraltar, where east-northeast winds often funnel in, even here with gusts sometimes exceeding 25-30 knots in anticyclonic conditions. Less turbulent but still sometimes subject to wind gusts even in the summer period are mainly the areas of the Gulf of Lion, Mouths of Bonifacio, Canals between Sardinia and Sicily, Ionian and Adriatic Seas.”

In addition to your devices, always watch the sky: if the clouds are vertically developing (such as cumulus and cumulonimbus, pictured) and growing rapidly you can expect a thunderstorm in the short term.

SOME GOOD OLD-FASHIONED “NOSE”
We were saying before how important the basic principles of meteorology remain, however. What are the typical signs that indicate to us that, in the short term, a storm may be coming? “Undoubtedly observe the sky: if clouds are vertically developing, such as cumulus and cumulonimbus, and growing rapidly we can expect a thunderstorm in the short term. Beware because the formation of a thunderstorm even at a medium distance can trigger the development of a new cell at a closer distance. Moreover, the increase in high clouds such as cirrus, cirrostratus, and strata, perhaps accompanied by a change in wind direction, may also herald an upcoming worsening of weather conditions. Beware also of ‘long waves,’ which can still reach us even if generated by bad weather conditions far from our location.

TELL ME WHAT SAILOR YOU ARE AND I WILL GIVE YOU THE RIGHT WEATHER FORECAST
Meteomed is a company specializing in forecasting and weather services for recreational and professional boating, independent since 2009. It ended the 2016 season on a high note with over 17,500 registered boaters and over two thousand subscribers to its services. In collaboration with 3BMeteo, it has developed an exclusive forecast model for the Mediterranean basin.

Meteomed’s marine weather forecasts are all processed by computational models built in-house and validated by a staff of professional meteorologists. The company has developed its own multichannel platform: web, mobile, phone, SMS, e-mail, through which customers are able to receive weather information without any technological barriers. To provide “tailor-made” weather support, Meteomed has devised a number of functions such as Meteorotta and Customized Alert Warnings.

Service prices are proportional to its completeness and complexity. There are basically three packages offered by Meteomed: Basic, Premium (which incorporates mapping) and Top, which includes all of them plus telephone counseling. There is also an upgrade to the Top, the Race service, which is very specialized, aimed at racing and modulated to each individual event. www.meteomed.it

 

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