Fish Radio

Freezing spray, icing observations wanted

January 17, 2017


This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Weather watchers want your ice sightings. I’ll tell you more after this –

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We’ve all seen images of fishing boats in the winter, where the rigging, wires and wheelhouse are literally turned into a massive block of ice. Freezing ocean spray and heavy icing can capsize a vessel in the blink of an eye.

Weather forecasters are in the fourth year of a project  to fine tune NOAA’s Watches and Warnings about heavy freezing spray.   Lt. Joseph Phillips is a project leader at NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center in Maryland.

We’re trying to understand more about the dynamics and the atmospheric conditions and even the types of boats that might be impacted by freezing spray. Because what we are learning is that freezing spray is a very difficult thing to forecast. A lot of it has to deal with what direction a ship is moving in, the size and shape of the ship, the wind conditions; you can have warm waters and cold temperatures and still get freezing spray.  

Forecasters from NOAA and Environment Canada are asking mariners for help in reporting icing conditions in Alaska, the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions.

   Right now we’re at the point where we just want to hear if there is freezing spray or not. But if you have more information like the icing conditions, or ice accretion rate or the air temperature, or sea and wind conditions, relative humidity all that information is great.  

Phillips says the information will help verify freezing spray and icing forecasts being issued to mariners.

Then we can start tweaking and understanding why we’re not forecasting or over forecasting, maybe adjust the models we are using here and there. And then that will translate into a better forecast and warning system for this condition.  

 Find links to the freezing comments at AMSEA and at our website

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.