Climate and meteo

Here we give some useful elements for wise decision making when planning sea kayak navigations.

The Area Involved

Data that are shown here and descending observations refer to sea areas along Tuscan coasts and nearby shorelines.

Values about water temperature are mostly similar all over the Mediterranean Sea, while the other measure units range over considerably different values.

The Data: Some Atmospheric and Marine Variables

The following table shows mean monthly values observed during the years. These values have no statistic precision, as the data relating to the different measurement units are referred to periods which cannot be precisely overlapped since the necessary laboriousness for searching and collecting data in a perfectly homogeneous table would be beyond the purpose of this text.

 

    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
atmosphere Average Max T. (°C) 11,4 12,6 15,2 18,0 22,2 26,0 29,4 29,5 25,7 21,2 15,5 11,8
Average Max T. (°F) 52,5 54,7 59,4 64,4 72,0 78,8 84,9 85,1 78,3 70,2 59,9 53,2
Average Min T. (°C) 2,2 2,9 4,6 7,3 10,7 14,1 16,7 17,2 14,3 10,7 6,1 3,4
Average Min T. (°F) 36,0 37,2 40,3 45,1 51,3 57,4 62,1 63,0 57,7 51,3 43,0 38,1
Absolute Max T. (°C) 17,8 21,0 24,4 27,9 31,1 35,0 37,8 38,5 36,2 30,2 24,0 20,4
Absolute Max T. (°F) 64,0 69,8 75,9 82,2 88,0 95,0 100,0 101,3 97,2 86,4 75,2 68,7
Absolute Min T. (°C) -13,8 -8,4 -8,0 -3,2 1,2 5,8 8,8 8,2 3,8 -2,0 -7,2 -7,2
Absolute Min T. (°F) 7,2 16,9 17,6 26,2 34,2 42,4 47,8 46,8 38,8 28,4 19,0 19,0
Ice Days: Min T. ≤ 0 °C (32°F) 11 8 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9
Cloudiness: okta per day 4,8 4,7 4,8 4,9 4,5 4,0 2,8 3,0 3,5 4,0 4,8 4,8
Precipitation (mm) 74 70 77 80 61 43 24 57 88 120 122 85
Days with Precipitation 9 8 9 8 7 5 3 4 6 8 10 9
Average Relative Humidity (%) 75 71 70 72 72 70 67 68 71 72 74 76
Sunshine Duration (sunshine hours per day) 3,4 4,3 4,9 6,4 7,8 8,9 10,2 9,0 7,3 5,7 3,7 3,0
sea Surface Water T. °C 14,0 13,0 13,5 14,0 18,0 23,0 24,0 25,5 23,5 21,0 18,0 16,0
Surface Water T. °F 57,0 55,0 56,0 57,0 64,0 73,0 75,0 78,0 74,0 70,0 64,0 61,0

Survival Time into the water, naked or dressed in cotton, Min - Max

1 - 6 1 - 6 1 - 6 1 - 6 2 - 40 3 - undet. 3 - undet. 3 - undet. 3 - undet. 3 - undet. 2 - 40 1 - 6
Exhaustion Time into the water, naked or dressed in cotton, Min - Max 1 - 2 1 - 2 1 - 2 1 - 2 2- 7 3 - 12 3 - 12 3 - 12 3 - 12 3 - 12 2- 7 1 - 2
Survival Time into the water, dressed in a 4 mm neoprene wetsuit, Min - Max 2 - 12 2 - 12 2 - 12 2 - 12 4 - 80 6 - undet. 6 - undet. 6 - undet. 6 - undet. 6 - undet. 4 - 80 2 - 12
Exhaustion Time into the water, dressed in a 4 mm neoprene wetsuit, Min - Max 2 - 4 2 - 4 2 - 4 2 - 4 4 - 14 6 - 24 6 - 24 6 - 24 6 - 24 6 - 24 4 - 14 2 - 4

 

A Few Observations

Data About the Atmosphere

By looking at the original data, tapped from various national and international sources, show a rising average-temperature trend.

The large majority of people are familiar with air temperatures and other atmospheric variables, with their level of variability, with the body sensations associated with different temperatures and with the effect on men, animals and nature in general. Therefore, interpreting such data and consequently adjust one's activities are easy tasks.

Sea Surface Temperature

On the contrary, not many people are aware of the temperature range of the surface layer of seawater or know how long the human body can tolerate being immersed in waters at various temperatures, while this is a fundamental information to know for those practicing activities on the water or even find themselves, either voluntarily or by accident, into the water.

Let us take as reference term the heated swimming pools for swimming and other water sports. Their water is typically in the range between 24 and 28 Celsius degrees (75°F to 82°F), which are values parted enough for the human body to feel the difference.

In the swimming pools mainly dedicated to swimming and in particular those devoted to swimming races, water is kept in the lower zone of this range, usually around 25 °C (77 °F).

We should then keep in mind that, most of the times, we do not stay in a pool for long.

Hence, we can examine the table rows about the sea recalling the feelings that we experience when we do sport or relax in a pool.

Then, if we look at the objective data relating to enduring before exhaustion and surviving or not when immersed in water at different temperatures, we can find that only above 20 °C (68 °F) we can start to consider survival time ad undetermined, provided that the weather is fare and we are in good physical and psychological conditions, such a combination of elements which is more possible, but not granted at all, from June to September, usually even to October, but practically never from November to May.

Below that temperature and anyway when health is less than good, survival times rapidly reduce, to the point that at the lower zone of the temperature range of the sea areas we are considering, i.e. around 13 °C (55 °F), death can occur after just a few hours.

But nobody whish experience conditions in which surviving is in doubt. Therefore, it is interesting to know that, well before reaching the limit between life and death, some safety-essential capabilities start falling, due to hypothermia, starting with mouvement coordination and understanding. At 13°C (55°F) just a little time will be left for taking the proper measures to get back to a safe and comfortable condition.

Nonetheless, any season is good for water sports, provided we put to sea only when actual and forecasted meteorological conditions are suitable for our capabilities and we have proper equipment and clothing. In fact, you can spend completely enjoyable days also in climates and seas much colder than these.

Cautions

Dress according to water temperature!

When kayaking there is the possibility of finding ourselves floating, almost totally into the water, with the need of acting for getting back onboard or safely making the shore. 

That is, even when the fair weather of a warm day in May would make you go for just a swimming suit or little more, remember that the water is at averagely 18 °C (64 °F). Therefore, we will no doubt put on a wetsuit of proper thickness, possibly a waterproof jacket, neoprene socks for sure, etc.

Obviously, you will wear your personal floatation device since before boarding! In any weather condition!

In fact, a PFD, if adequate in size and buoyancy, will prove an essential aid in letting us devote to rescuing, without wasting energies for buoying, also considering that we will be able to keep emerged a larger part of our body, this way reducing heat dissipation and breathing effort.

Meteo-Climatological Information

The variety of climatological and meteorological information sources is really huge. Therefore, the following selection is but a minimum list, just enough for starting.

Climatological Data

Italian seas pilot charts: statistics in graphic format (set the month of interest).

Waves and surface-layer water temperature: same as above.

Atlas of surface currents on the Italian seas: published by the Italian hydrographic institute (IIM, Istituto Idrografico della Marina), it is updated according to statistical series available in 1982. You can download it for free.

Pilot charts of the Mediterranean: it shows also currents, updated on recent statistical series; directions and strengths of currents that it features are not rarely different from those in the Atlas of IIM [above].

Meteorological Forecasts

Windy: meteo forecasts (chose data to show).

LaMMA: climatology, meteorology and forecasts (chose data to show).

Meteomar of the Italian Navy (Marina Militare Italiana): climatology, meteorology e forecasts.

Marine VHF channel 68 (regarding Italian and nearby seas).