The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is less than two weeks away. The Florida Sea Base is as prepared as one can be for any severe weather eventuality. Over the next several months I will frequently post information on “Invest” weather systems. I copy or summarize a lot of those comments from Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog. Dr. Masters is the founder of Weather Underground which was sold to the owners of The Weather Channel last year. Weather Underground continues to be my preferred source for radar images and I rely heavily on Dr. Masters’ tropical weather information.
Tuesday Dr. Masters included this explanation is his blog:
What is an “Invest”?
When a National Hurricane Center forecaster sees a tropical disturbance that may be a threat to develop into a tropical depression, the forecaster may label the disturbance an “Invest” and give it a tracking identification number. There is no formal definition of what qualifies as an “Invest”. Declaring an “Invest” is merely done so that a set of forecasting aids like computer model track forecasts can be generated for the disturbance. The “Invest” is given a number 90-99, followed by a single letter corresponding to the ocean basin–“L” for the Atlantic, or “E” for the Eastern Pacific. Other warning agencies assign “Invests” for the other ocean basins–“W” for the Western Pacific, “A” for the Arabian Sea, etc. Detailed microwave and traditional satellite images are available for all “Invests” across the globe at the Navy Research Lab web site.
I also use images and information from the National Weather Service including the marine forecast, drought and fire forecasts, and products from the National Hurricane Center, National Buoy Data Center, and Climate Prediction Center. There is NO better source for local weather data in the Florida Keys than Senior Marine Forecaster Chip Kasper with the NWS office in Key West. We sincerely appreciate Chip’s dedication to keeping us informed of potentially hazardous weather conditions.
The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, WindGURU, SailFlow.com, PassageWeather, and other sources are also frequently referenced or consulted. Weather forecasting involves a lot or science and, in my opinion, is an art form. While sometimes overwhelming, generally the more information you can amass the better you can plan.
The management of the Florida Sea Base takes safety very seriously. It is not unusual for me to spend a few hours each day monitoring the weather. We retain an MD who is a recognized leader in the field of hyperbaric medicine to review the medical forms for the scuba participants. The scuba staff will spend DAYS during staff training practicing rescue skills. All of our staff members and charter captains are certified in first aid and CPR and the scuba staff receives additional training in emergency oxygen administration and first aid specific to scuba diving. I remember my dad telling me (repeatedly) 50+ years ago, “Safety First”! The staff files incident reports on nearly every mishap so we can review them as a team to look for trends or the possibility of tweaking our procedures to make an activity safer.
Stay informed. Stay safe.
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape