The Great Southern Route : 2010 - 2011
WEATHER ROUTING 300 | GSR westerly fetch farther south. Even during the periodic episodes from lighter winds (from building high pressure areas), general westerly seas remain "large", with residual longer-period swells often near if not exceeding 10 feet during these times. Of course, within the inside passage and in protected waters, seas will tend to be far less than those found in more open waters. These seas, while shorter-period and choppier, will also have far less swell associated with them and be purely wind driven. Farther south, along the Pacific Northwest coast, winter season winds are often somewhat lighter than those experienced farther north and more within the gale track itself. Typical winds ahead of cold fronts that move ashore tend to veer from south to southwest, increasing to force 6-8. Again, with the frontal passage the winds tend to veer SW-W-NW remaining in the force 6-8 range, though winds will be higher, often solidly within gale force (force 8-9) when larger, stronger gales/ storms and their associated fronts pass. Winds then lower as the transitory high builds eastward and into the coast, winds continue to veer NW-N- NE and ease to force 4-6. While winds may be somewhat lower than what cold fronts associated with gales/storms. It is not uncommon within stronger storms in the heart of the winter to produce force 10-11. Easing in what will generally be westerly winds will occur as areas of high pressure build into the region, in between the passage of gales and storms, though any easing will tend to be brief, lasting no more than 24-30 hours at a time. On the north sides of systems, we will find more NE-E winds, generally confined to the northernmost waters, and to an extent, winds will tend lighter here, speeds generally no more than force 5-6, tending highest in areas of localized channeling of winds found between islands off of Mainland Alaska. Wintertime gales and storms often produce exceptionally large seas, especially where there is a large fetch involved, namely in more offshore (open) waters, away from protected channels and passages. Prolonged strong westerly winds can often produce swells near and in excess of 20ft in these areas, with 25-30ft+ possible within strong gales/storms. The highest of these seas tend to propagate eastward into the Alaskan Panhandle, British Colombia and Pacific Northwest coastal areas, with lower seas more likely in the more northern areas of the Alaskan coast, which are less exposed to the large LARGE, STRONG GALES and storms are quite common within the Gulf of Alaska during the wintertime months, occurring every 2-3 days, often moving along or north of 40N from near the Dateline NE0'ward into the Gulf where they will often slow and slowly weaken as they turn northward into Mainland Alaska or continue ne'ward into the Alaska/British Colombia coasts. Occasionally, secondary lows will form along trailing fronts which then intensify into gales themselves as they move northeast to eastward into British Colombia or the Pacific Northwest (Washington/Oregon). Within the Gulf of Alaska itself, low pressure is almost always found, especially at this time of year as maturing gales will often stall and slowly dissipate. Following these gales/fronts will be transitory ridges of high pressure which are usually extensions of a larger semi-permanent high farther south, which occasionally bring brief periods of lighter weather as they move eastward along 40-45N. Typical winds in and near the Gulf of Alaska along and south of these gales at this time of year are SW, very frequently reaching gale force (force 8-9), followed by veering winds from W-NW of similar speeds following the passage of Northern Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska By: Brian Whitley - Meteorologist Weather Routing Inc. The weather here is not without its volatility, though there are quiet times to be had weather wise, more so farther south, away from the North Pacific gale track. Gale tracks tend to be right across or just south of the Gulf of Alaska pending the time of year and typically only the sturdiest of vessels should be up here in the first place (barring simply remaining in protected waters).
2008 - 2009
2013 - 2014