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Old 04-24-2016, 08:10 PM   #1
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Question - North winds on FL west coast

West coast of FL, anything with an N in the winds is going to be rougher and we tend to avoid as I've learned to respect. We don't have the Gulf Stream like the FL East coast does. It's soooo known not to cross to Bahamas with an N, but why is the west coast with an N rougher? I know there has to be some Guru's out there that know?
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:52 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Ms. R. Well, no Gulf Stream but you do have the loop current so when the north wind opposes the north current...Viola, waves.

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Old 04-24-2016, 10:00 PM   #3
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Currents

Totally get that stream flow, but that is way south. I'm up in Tarpon, almost to the start of the armpit. Was recently talking to a forum member who's experienced that north this way and it doesn't make a lot of sense. The stream is not involved.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:14 PM   #4
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Greetings,
Ms. R. Look at the picture again. Prevailing current all along the west coast of FL is northerly. Nothing at all to do with the Gulf Stream. LOOP CURRENT within the Gulf.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:14 PM   #5
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Rossigal,
Here's a great weather website that shows winds, waves, currents, and other very useful info, including the gulf stream. It's a bunch of clustered super-computers that combine all the info. Click on the word "Earth" to change configurations.

earth :: a global map of wind, weather, and ocean conditions
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:18 PM   #6
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There is an almost circular current in the GOM. It is counter clockwise or East to West along the northern GOM coast. Along your West coast of FL it can sometimes be from the North and sometimes fron the South. It really feeds toward the center of the Gulf. I can tell you from fishing far offshore. 150 to 160 mies off your coast it is a whole different world. Waves are larger. When winds counter your current in the relatively shallow parts of the FL West coast, the waves build short and steep. They can cause terrific pounding.
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:25 AM   #7
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So, what I am getting is, waves are caused by wind (as in friction of water driven by wind at surface as opposed to slower, unaffected deeper water). Steep waves are caused by opposing wind and current. The looping current found on the west coast should therefore diminish in a north wind as they are in the same direction.

RTF's and TC's referenced sources both confirm a basically northern current flow along the west of Florida and a southern flow on the east. I too am then confused by how a 'N' wind on either coast is bad.

My knowledge of how this all works is obviously zero, so be nice!
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:25 PM   #8
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Look at the link I posted above. Go back to 4/23/2016 (last Saturday). Set the settings on Mode: Ocean, Animate: Currents. If you take a look at what is happening off of Fort Myers (26.48 N, 81.95 W) you'll see that there is an eddy in the gulf stream just to the south that is rotating counter-clockwise. This eddy is feeding a current that is rotating clockwise, up into Fort Myers.

Now switch to Mode: Air, Height: Surface, and you'll see a mild winds blowing from the NW. These get stronger until you get to about 700 hPA. So we had winds from the NW beating against a current flowing clockwise from SW to NE. I was out on the water this day, and while it wasn't too bad, we definitely chose to anchor off of the south coast of Sanibel. I was in the water cleaning the underside of the boat, and would not have been able to do it without hiding behind Sanibel.

It looks like today is a good day for boating off the coast of Ft. Myers: current flowing from SE to NW, winds blowing to the NW as well.
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Old 04-25-2016, 07:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dimer2 View Post
So, what I am getting is, waves are caused by wind (as in friction of water driven by wind at surface as opposed to slower, unaffected deeper water). Steep waves are caused by opposing wind and current. The looping current found on the west coast should therefore diminish in a north wind as they are in the same direction.

RTF's and TC's referenced sources both confirm a basically northern current flow along the west of Florida and a southern flow on the east. I too am then confused by how a 'N' wind on either coast is bad.

My knowledge of how this all works is obviously zero, so be nice!
Could you be confused on the wind direction? A north wind comes from the north, it is not heading north.
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Old 04-25-2016, 08:32 PM   #10
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No, I am not confused by wind direction but was by the current. Thanks to tcp and his link, this now makes perfect sense. I was assuming the loop current ran down the Texas/Louisiana coast, across Miss/Alabama and then back up the Florida west coast. I was not expecting any eddies or direction change.

Everyone knows that any wind with an N in it is bad going to the Bahamas, where the Gulf stream is running N to S so it made no sense to me why a N wind on the west coast would also be bad.

Thanks for keeping me straight!
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Old 04-25-2016, 09:11 PM   #11
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After a lifetime boating and fishing professionally along the Gulf coast of Florida, first in the Ft. Myers area where I grew up, and now in the Eastern panhandle and big bend where I live now, I respectfully submit that you guys are overthinking this.

Yes, the loop current may have some effect, but in my opinion not until you are way offshore. But much more likely is that North winds here are associated with frontal passages/low pressures. Those fronts typically carry stronger winds with them. Strong N winds and fronts also push a lot of water out of the bays, making our already shallow waters even shallower.

Up here, even strong North winds can make for a nice day on the water if you don't go too far offshore. I've made the run from Apalach to Carrabelle a couple of times in 25 to 30 knot North winds. It was pretty nice.

I've also crossed the stream a number of times, and I'm familiar with that little gem too. It has a massive affect on conditions, we don't have nearshore currents in the Gulf that do that, at least not that I've seen.

On the other hand, as compared to the Atlantic, Gulf conditions change very rapidly and we get steep seas with microscopic periods that can be really nasty. My dad used to always say that 2 to 4 in the Gulf was as bad as 4 to 6 in the Atlantic.

A few weeks ago I was fishing with my sons in the Stuart area, it wasn't really windy, but there was a pretty big swell...I'd say six feet or so with a few bigger sets, long period and no chop really. We ran outside in my 18' flats boat and trolled up a few macks. I had to time the inlet (incoming tide made it better) but it was really pretty nice.

There is no way on earth I'd take my skiff out in 6' in the Gulf. We just don't get swells like that, it's either choppy or it's calm.
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Old 04-25-2016, 10:04 PM   #12
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Great post Doug!!!


Sent from my iPhone using Trawler Forum
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Old 04-26-2016, 06:06 PM   #13
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Thank you

Wanted to thank all of you! Your explanations made everything clear and will be used here and beyond. Thanks so much!
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Old 04-26-2016, 06:28 PM   #14
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It's got nothing to do with the loop current. Unless perhaps you happen to be a 100 + miles offshore in the loop. Plus the loop doesn't always extend up into the northern Gulf all year long. It pulsates N to S at different times of the year.

It's the fact that the Gulf is shallow for miles offshore. So you get steep, short chop that builds up pretty quickly that can turn into tall short period waves.

And as noted, North winds can make for calm conditions right off the beach in many parts of the Gulf.

Even parts of the W/SW coast.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:18 PM   #15
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True. We fished offshore during the 9 years I had a boat at Orange Beach, AL. The wind out of the North meant good conditions near shore. However, with a set of binoculars looking South the horizon looked like a saw tooth. That's when we got the LORAN numbers out for our spots near shore.
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:31 AM   #16
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When it kicks up just stay inshore. For a nice trip head up to our neck of the woods, Hudson Beach. You can tie up at the free docks & eat on the water at Sams. More free docks at the Dunedin Municipal Marina & Frenchy's at Clearwater Beach.
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