If You Fish or Boat on Natural North Florida’s Big Bend– Know Your Weather!

Yes, Florida is warm.  And in winter months, it’s typically warmer than the rest of the country and most of Europe.  But there are times when cold fronts appear and the temperatures get to freezing or just a few degrees below.  For many of us “natives” 60-degrees F is cold!

When it comes to boating and fishing Florida’s Big Bend (from Yankeetown in Levy County to Panacea in Wakulla County), it’s important to know what the weather’s going to do.

In summer months, we can almost always count on late-afternoon thunderstorms that build up just inland of the coast.  While these storms generate some wind, the big danger is lightning. And it’s important to know that lightning can strike well away from any clouds, especially in the spring or fall, when the air is relatively dry.  If you hear thunder, it’s usually prudent to head back to port!

Don't get caught by sudden summertime thunderstorms!
Don’t get caught by sudden summertime thunderstorms!

In fall, winter and spring, our cold fronts bring rain, and sometimes thunderstorms .  You also need to watch out for springtime waterspouts, which can ruin your day if you don’t get out of their way!  But for the most part, careful boaters can view live radar from their boats using smartphone apps like Weather Bug or Intellicast.  There’s even a Marine Weather app from Weather Underground that is handy. These apps work wherever there’s phone service, so that’s almost everywhere in the Natural North Florida region.  Just check the “app store” for your particular device.  Cold/cool fronts usually appear in cycles, with about three days between them.  And most fishermen believe that the fishing on “bluebird days” that follow cold fronts isn’t as good as the day just before the front arrives.

Typical Weather Bug radar showing a front ready to hit our Gulf coast.
Typical Weather Bug radar showing a front ready to hit our Gulf coast.

 

Clear skies--and sailing--ahead!
Clear skies–for fishing and boating–ahead!

Finally, a word about hurricanes.  We’ve not had one hit our area in 10 years, but that’s not saying we’re safe from them, or from lesser tropical depressions and tropical storms.  These can be dangerous weather events, and it’s important to get away from the water should one appear.  Luckily, the NOAA Tropical Hurricane Center tracks these storms and we’re given plenty of advance notice of their arrival.  We just keep our fingers crossed and are, like the Boy Scouts, always prepared!