A sea breeze can be very difficult for forecast models to pick up on. Forecast models focus on high and low pressure systems to determine projected wind. There are other variables they consider, but they often times do not pick up a sea breeze in Tampa Bay.
Understanding how a sea breeze forms will help you better read the forecast. The key factors for a sea breeze in Tampa Bay are: 1. dry conditions 2. moderate NE wind in the morning and 3. sunny skies and warming trend. These three things mean it’s a good sign for a possible afternoon breeze, even if it is not in the forecast.
This article will break down which forecast model has been most accurate for predicting an afternoon sea breeze. We’ll also explain how we watch to see if a sea breeze is building.
Recent Sea Breezes
The past couple of days have had some great sea breezes that were not forecasted anywhere. Here is one where the forecast called for 8 kts but wind conditions were 15 kts.
Best Forecast Models
We continue to adapt and experiment with different forecast models to find the one or two that is most accurate. We have found that for a sea breeze in Tampa Bay, the 2km model and Quicklook Plus model found on iKitesurf are the most accurate. The unfortunate part of these two models is that they do not go more than one or two days out. Variables are constantly changing so by two days out they gather more information than just high and low pressure systems.
Watching For Sea Breezes
There are two predominant wind directions for a sea breeze in Tampa Bay, NW and SW. We’ve noticed some signs for each wind direction. One common sign for both directions are sunny skies with puffy cumulus clouds in the distance.
If you’re in St Petersburg hoping to get a session at Skyway Bridge or Fort Desoto, here are some signs we look at. We watch the Clearwater Pier sensor that is free to look at on iKitesurf. If the Clearwater Pier sensor starts showing 13/14 kts out of the NW or NNW, a good sea breeze is coming to St. Petersburg. It may take an hour or two hours for the sea breeze to make it from Clearwater to St. Petersburg.
To see if a SW sea breeze is forming, we look at the Anna Marie Island sensor that is also free on iKitesurf. If this sensor starts showing 14/15 kts then a few hours later and Skyway Bridge should be windy.
Ideally you want to have access to the yellow sensors on iKitesurf. We have scored so many more sessions on the water because we saw the wind trending up.
Sometimes you have to take chances and go out to the beach if the variables line up for a sea breeze. You learn by studying the signs and reading the wind patterns. Tampa Bay has some wind patterns that take time to learn. Once you learn some of these patterns you’ll be able to get many more days on the water!