Today’s Safety topic is about Rowing and Weather.
(Updated November 11, 2021)
Being near or in water during a thunder and lightning storm is not a good thing. I will spare you any of the gory statistics on deaths due to lightning strikes as I think most people know that it is not good to expose yourself to the opportunity of being struck by lightning. Simply do not row if you hear thunder or see lightning. And wait 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before entering the water.
Get in the habit of checking the weather prior to any row. The New Hope Weather link is: http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/local/18938 .
If there is a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch issued for Bucks or Hunterdon County, coaches and rowers should check radar, use extreme caution, and be in a position to return to the launch area quickly as storms can change course and/or develop unpredictably
If there is the possibility of a storm coming through, watch for the storms either by sight of clouds or sound of the thunder or change in temperature, humidity or wind. If it appears safe to row but there is a possibility of storms, then stay near the launch site. You may want to judge how far you should row by knowing if you could get back to the launch ramp and out of the boat in 5 minutes. For most experienced, strong team boats that would mean not rowing but a couple hundred meters above the free bridge.
If by chance you are far from the landing and a storm comes in, row to the nearest shore, get out of the boat and get away from the water and to shelter if you can. Just ground the boat on shore if you can and don’t worry about damage–we love you more than our boats. Or leave the boat in the water. If there is not an enclosed safe shelter near, just get away from the river and tall trees. You should squat low but minimize contact with ground and keep both feet together.
If you are at the site and do not have a car to get to, then go in the restroom. Seriously, you could be struck standing just next to a building. Being inside an enclosed building is the safest place to be during a storm.
Below is a link to a NOAA information page on lightning safety.
Enough of all the scary stuff….
As we are in the midst of summer, I will talk about heat first. If you row on a hot day, wear lightweight clothes, drink plenty of fluids and bring the fluids with you in the boat. Water is good but you may consider drinking a sports drink that adds carbohydrates and electrolytes to the water.
Along these lines you should heed bad ozone days. I would suggest if you row on these days that you keep the effort on the lower end.
SCRC limits rowing based on water temperature. Because we do not have a launch out with us while we are always rowing to rescue any rowers that may end up in the river, we do not row in low water temperatures. The river water temperature can be found on the USGS Gauge which is noted and linked on the Swan Creek Rowing site in the upper left-hand corner. The link is also below.
The site quotes the temperature in Celsius and not in Fahrenheit.
Do not Row if Water Temp is < 45 degrees F (~7.22 degrees C).
There will also be a Blue Flag posted over the desk to note if the water temperature is < 60 degrees F (15 degrees C) which means Novice boats must adhere to the Four-Oar Rule.
If you do row in cooler weather, you should dress appropriately in non-cotton clothing. Long sleeve shirts and vests are a good to keep your core warm. If you need cool weather rowing-wear, Regatta Sports or JL Rowing have many snazzy cool weather attire to purchase and most of the vendors peddle their clothes at the big regattas.
Fog season is coming upon us. You will probably come down to row on what seems to be a sunny day only to find the river soaked in fog. The rule is simple–don’t row if you can’t see the free bridge from the launch area. There are just too many risks of what you can’t see and who may not be able to see you to be rowing. Generally, the fog will clear as the sun rises and you will be able to go out. If you do go out and the fog rolls in, simply slowly come in.
Not that darkness is a “weather condition” but it is something to consider as the daylight gets shorter. Boats launching 30 minutes before sunrise must have a bow light. Boats launching around sunset must launch with a bow light and must return before 30 minutes after sunset. Bow lights are in the equipment trailer.
I was hoping to keep it short and sweet with this note but it looking like that is impossible for me to do.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. See you on the river!
SCRC Safety Committee