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Marine Safety Alert: Unexpected heavy weather dangers

Weather will change, whether you are ready or not!

The Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Analysis has released Marine Safety Alert 07-21, to highlight how unexpected heavy weather events and rapid changes in weather have contributed to multiple notable and deadly marine casualties over the past several years.  

These casualties involved a wide range of vessels, including sailboats, passenger vessels, offshore vessels and recreational boats. While different size vessels normally operate in diverse geographical areas and different types of vessels may need to implement unique safeguards, there is a common theme – if you are not ready for heavy weather or rapid changes in weather, you and your vessel may suffer devastating consequences. 

Heavy weather events or rapid changes in weather can be even more severe if you do not know about the approaching conditions. Operating on the water may provide a clear view of approaching weather, but it is not always indicative of the severity of a storm. 

Although modern day forecasting has improved, and mariners and recreational boaters have the ability to receive updates and warnings through a wide variety of means, weather related maritime disasters continue to occur. This introduction of modern day technology into weather forecasting also increases the complexity in determining if the forecast applies to the geographical area where the vessel is actually operating. 

To prepare for heavy weather events or rapid changes in weather, the Coast Guard strongly recommends that all vessel owners, operators, mariners, and recreational boaters take the following actions: 

This Safety Alert is for informational purposes and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirement. Developed by the Investigations National Center of Expertise and distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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