The Bureau of Meteorology will be working around the clock during the much-anticipated Sydney to Hobart yacht race, with meteorologists keeping watch on a weather system that could influence the start of the race.
Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Gabrielle Woodhouse said the Bureau played a crucial role in providing weather information to ensure the safety and success of each yacht leaving Sydney Harbour.
Ms Woodhouse will give a series of marine safety and weather briefings to crews in the lead-up to the race, including on Boxing Day morning.
"Before the race, we brief navigators and captains on what to watch out for on the water, what the forecast is and how to interpret the forecast, giving them all the information they need to be able to make fast, informed decisions," she said.
"Throughout the race, we provide warnings and forecasts to crews, which include wind speed, direction, wave heights, swell, ocean currents, and temperatures so they can plan their course and adapt to any changes in conditions.
"This year, the race start will be determined by the timing of a weather system known as a trough. We're expecting that to have already passed Sydney in the early morning, and that the fleet will encounter southerly winds, generally cloudy conditions and the chance of a shower or two.
"With the trough near Sydney at race start, there is the potential for thunderstorms offshore over the warm waters of the East Australia Current, a surface current driven by winds over the South Pacific.
"Captains and crews will all be kept across this information via regular radio updates, as well as information that is continuously updated on the Bureau's online channels."
Ms Woodhouse said the remainder of the race was expected to see settled conditions with a ridge of high pressure across Tasmania. This may pose a challenge to crews sailing with easterly winds or light/variable winds over the Bass Strait and northern Tasmania.
"The Bureau continues to monitor weather and ocean conditions well after the winning yacht crosses the finish line. We also monitor conditions that impact retiring and returning yachts," she said.
"Wetter-than-average conditions along the east coast of Australia may mean additional risks to yachts, including an increased risk of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms can bring lightning, strong and gusty winds, heavy rain, hail, low visibility and even waterspouts, all of which are dangerous on the water.
"Returning crews bringing the yachts back up to Sydney also rely on our forecasts and marine weather warnings to get home safely.
"The Bureau has a proud association with the Sydney to Hobart, and it is a privilege to work closely with crews and organisers to help ensure a safe and successful race."
Know your weather, know your risk. Stay up to date with the Bureau's forecasts and warnings via the Bureau's website, BOM Weather app or social media.
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