Safety is always foremost in the minds of the Florida Sea Base staff. And dealing responsibly with the weather is probably our number one safety issue. We took in on the chin a couple of weeks ago as the crews in attendance during Tropical Storm Debby let the complaints fly. We don’t blame them at all. It is very disappointed to go on vacation any where and get weathered out.
Several logistical issues make any “plan B” difficult. When you are on a family vacation and the weather turns sour you need a plan B for four, maybe even six or eight people. When our programs are limited by severe weather we have at least 112 scuba divers and as many as 200 sailors on base to “entertain”. Logistics for over 300 people are overwhelming. If we are shut down then almost all activities in the Keys are shut down. Plus we do not have access to transportation to take 300 people somewhere if there was some place to go. It is difficult to explain the difficulties. I have been here for 13 years. While I have never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, many very talented staff members have come and gone during that time. We have tried many options. And the brutal truth is we usually have to hunker down and wait it out.
We are always open to specific suggestions from staff members and participants. If you have a good idea for a plan B, click on the “comment” button and let me know.
Hopefully, weather delays will be minimal this year.
Published: 11:13 AM EDT on July 05, 2012The odds of an El Niño event developing in time for the August – September – October peak of hurricane season have grown to 61%, said NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in their latest El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) diagnostic discussion, released on July 5. Ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific have increased to 0.6°C above average this week, which is just above the 0.5°C above-average threshold used to define a weak El Niño event. These temperatures must remain 0.5° or more above average for three consecutive months to qualify as an official El Niño. CPC advised that current conditions show a weakening of the east-to-west trade winds over the east-central equatorial Pacific, along with a reduction in heavy thunderstorm activity over Papua New Guinea, which “reflect a likely progression towards El Niño.” However, the upper atmospheric winds and circulation patterns don’t resemble what we expect of an El Niño yet. For example, in June over the North Pacific Ocean, there was an overall ridge of high pressure (more characteristic of La Niña) rather than a trough of low pressure (more typical during an El Niño). Thus, any development of El Niño during July is likely to be slow. El Niño events tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity by increasing the upper-level winds that create high wind shear capable of tearing storms apart.
There are two tropical systems in the East Pacific but nothing in the Atlantic at this time.
My biggest weather concern for 2012 has nothing to do with the Florida Sea Base. The heat and drought in the agricultural regions of the USA are of great concern. Life becomes miserable without adequate drinking water. Food and fuel prices (since we have decided to run our vehicles on corn) may skyrocket. We have to eat and we have to get to work and the store. Last year many meteorologists warned that we had begun a 10 year drought cycle. Then we got some rain and the worries seemed to go away. Now we’re back to significant drought concerns. Even the El Niño conditions that may help protect us from hurricanes will generate wind and heat that will exasperate the drought conditions.
Of all the technologies that we enjoy in these times, do you ever wonder why we aren’t able to desalinate sea water in mass quantities? And would it be safe to do if we had the technology? I can only assume that the process could increase the salinity of the ocean. And that could be environmentally devastating. I went on a scuba diving trip to the small island of Tobago years ago. The small island had about a half dozen small resorts. My recollection is that each resort had a small desalinization plant. Sorry for rambling.
All is well at the Florida Sea Base. I realize a day will come when I can’t say this, BUT, we enjoyed another day without death or significant injury. Good weather or bad, safety has to come first. If you or your child returned home disappointed due to the weather from Tropical Storm Debby, I feel your pain. But at the end of the day, we are VERY glad that everyone returned home safe.
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director 39713
Aboard S/V Escape