Pacific Area S/V Freya

Weather Charts


We use weather information en-route to help fine-tune our course.  Generally we want to avoid areas of excessively high or low winds, developing storms, or direct head winds.  Even though at 6 knots (about 11 km/h) we can't outrun bad weather when it's chasing us, we can head to where it might be less nasty.

We receive this weather information via HF shortwave radio.  There are voice broadcasts, such as station WWVH (from Hawaii on 5, 10, 15, 20 MHz at 48 minutes past each hour), and there are radio faxes such as station KVM (also from Hawaii).  To receive a radio fax, we tune the shortwave receiver to the  right frequency at the start time, and attach the headphone output to our laptop's microphone input.  Software on the laptop (http://www.jvcomm.de) decodes the fax data and shows us the picture. It takes a lot longer to download than a regular fax, about 20 minutes, and depending on the radio reception the quality can be quite variable, but they are handy.  For example, we decided to head a bit more westward at one point to avoid a region of gales developing off the coast of California.

A typical weather fax can be seen here.  Some of the resolution in the original file has been lost while making it a reasonable size for the web site (the original is more than 300kB) but you get the idea.

If you are interested in this topic, the symbols on the weather fax are explained at  www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/graphics/symbols.gif.   This website also posts the same weather faxes that we receive over the radio.  You can also go to www.weather.gc.ca as another source of weather information.




Address S/V Hoku Pa'a
1000 DeCosta Pl.
Victoria, BC
Canada  V9A 6Y3
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This page last updated 14 Apr 2005