The weekend of 24-25 Jun 2017 on Lake Erie numerous people had to be rescued by the coast guard because of wind and waves.
This article will help the common boater be more prepared before they head out next time. Erie will swallow you whole without chewing if you are not careful.
Below are the details that I personally use before going out on Lake Erie no matter what the wave forecast is. If you pay attention, I don’t even visit the NOAA wave forecasts. This is because I know what the lake will look like in different winds.
Iwindsurf is first on the list.
This website/app in my opinion will give you the most accurate real time and forecast data. Type in your specific location or use the map to navigate to the area you would like to boat in. For the most accurate forecast I only look 3 days out. When looking at the wind you will look at the direction, speed, and time. If you are fishing from the South shore of the lake a South wind will be in your best favor and a North wind will be not so pleasant. It will be just the opposite if you are fishing from the North shore. You get the point, now for speed. Say you are fishing from the south shore in a South wind. The further you get off shore, the bigger the waves. Now, fishing the South shore in a North wind is a different story. This goes for any wind the is pushing toward the shore you went out from. I personally will not go out in any head wind greater than 10 mph, unless of course I am in a tournament. If I’m pleasure fishing, no way. Now for time. Iwindsurf will give you a hour by hour look at the wind. You will want to look at this closer to your trip, the night before for instance. This will give you a heads up if the wind is going to shift. I use this to know when to switch fishing areas, or know I’ll be heading home against the waves. Lastly, knowing when the wind is going to shift could possibly save your life, property, or wallet. Hope that all makes sense!
The National Data Buoy Center has real time wave height, wind direction, and speed at different locations across Lake Erie. This is a very good tool to give you an idea what to expect. Now, you can’t just look at the wave height on the page and go with it. You need to times that number by 2 to be safe. This is the rule of thumb. If the buoy is reading 2.6 ft., expect to see 5 footers near the buoy. Now if it’s a South wind and the buoy is 15 miles off shore then obviously the closer you are to shore the smaller the waves if you are launching from the South. Below are a couple links to the buoys that I look at before I head out.
I use a weather app for mostly storm tracking. I am a fisherman so rain doesn’t bother me, but lightning, tornadoes, and strong winds do. Looking at the weather app I will look at the hourly forecast. I am mostly looking for pop up storms or storms that contain lightning. If you are concerned about rain, you will be able to see that in the hourly forecast also. Just like above, no more than 3 days out do I look at the weather. It will change even in those 3 days, just keep a close eye on it. Below is the website/app that I use that I trust.