National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Boating on cold water is inherently very dangerous for the unprepared.  You should know some information & facts about safe boating before you go out this year. If you do, it will go a long way in moving us towards our common goal of keeping our waters free from weather fatalities.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the water being very cold in spring, hypothermia is a mortal threat to mariners. This serious condition can occur when boaters are sent into very cold waters due to a capsized boat that was overturned by a sudden change in weather conditions. Water temperatures of 70 to 78 degrees are where most people feel comfortable swimming. In the early spring months, our water temperatures are typically in the 50s. With temperatures that cold, capsized boaters can be easily overcome before rescue or reaching shore. Even in the summer, prolonged immersion in water temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit can produce hypothermia. This is why it is so important to be weather informed before and while you are out on the water.


First, if you are planning on heading out onto the water for some recreational boating this spring and summer, you should both know the weather forecast before you leave, as well as check on the weather while you’re out.


  • Visit our website at to access the latest marine forecasts, buoy reports, radar image, and any statements or warnings.
  • VHF marine radio or NOAA weather radio – both of which are available at most marine stores and should be a part of your safe boating kit.
  • Use your phone (if within range of the internet) for updated while out.


Second, you should carry one life jacket for each person on your boat. Far too often when boating accidents occur and boater are sent overboard, they are not wearing a life jacket, or do not have access to one in the water adjacent to them.


Third, pay attention to fast-changing weather factors such as a rapid increase in cloud cover, a rapid increase in wind direction or speed, distant claps of thunder, or sudden drop in air temperatures. All of these factors could mean that there is an approaching thunderstorm, which often contain gusty winds.


Finally, if threatening weather approaches, or if you receive a NWS Special Marine Warning for your area, small craft should immediately head to the nearest shore or safe harbor, exit the boat, and move to an enclosed building if possible to wait out the hazard.


Please heed all advisories & warnings issued by the National Weather Service, and enjoy a safe 2018 boating season.