How the Weather can Affect Your Paddling Experience

Table of contents

1.How the weather affects your paddling experience.
2.Other things to pay attention to.
3.Water Temperature.
4.Other factors that might affect your SUP session.
5.How to deal with sudden changes in weather.


It’s suggested that you check the weather forecast prior to departure because different weather can affect your paddling experience greatly. Check out the content below to see how weather can affect your SUP experience. 

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How The Weather Affects Your SUP Paddling Experience

Wind - Having the wind on your back can save you a lot of energy when you paddle. If you know the speed and direction of the wind, you can plan the direction you paddle off in accordingly.

And wind can be dangerous for your SUP session as well. You should also check if the wind will change direction during the day to make sure your trip won’t be affected as much. You don’t want to be tired out because the wind direction changed suddenly and you have to paddle against the wind.

In certain areas like the sea or large, exposed areas of inland water, the wind can create chop and waves which will affect your paddling experince and cause issues for launching and landing.

Wider boards will provide you with better stability, so if it's going to be a windy day, try using a wide all-around inflatable paddle board to make balancing easier for you.

Rain - If you wear the right clothing for your SUP session, a little bit of rain probably won’t be an issue. But if there’s a chance you might get caught in a downpour, be sure to bring a change of clothes in a dry bag or in your car which would allow you to change when needed.

Another thing to pay attention to is the river levels which will rise quickly in heavy rain, so check them before you head out and be mindful of how they may change while you are paddling as well.

Also, it’s recommended you have your phone with you in a waterproof case. That way you’ll have a means of communication to call for help when needed.

Sun - It’s nice to be able to paddle on a sunny day. But there might be harmful rays and you need to wear proper sunblock and cover up to protect yourself from them. Also, bring a bottle of water if it’s a hot day, you can easily dehydrate in weather like this.

Other Things To Pay Attention To

Look to the past - when checking the weather forecast, you will probably only be looking at today’s weather, there’s nothing wrong with it, but looking back will help too. There might have been rainfall or downpour recently and it could rise the water levels of a waterway.

At low levels obstacles can become exposed and it can make getting on and off the water trickier than usual. The the water level rises, it could make it harder and more dangerous to paddle on. The water will be moving faster and rapids could become trickier. If they have been up but then come back down there would be debris. Also pay attention to obstacles like fallen trees which could block your way and cause danger of injury. 

Going to the extremes - You don’t want to be caught out on the water during a storm. If the weather forecast has predicted the stormy weather, you might want to reconsider before going out that day. And if you actually get caught in a storm when you are paddling out, you need to know what to do to get yourself out safely.

All at sea - If you want to paddle on the sea, we would also suggest that you check the tides and currents for your location before you go. In the UK, there are two high and two low tides each day. You might want to avoid paddling against the tide as this will waste your energy, the right thing to do is to go with the tide. Plan your paddle around when the tide is going out and coming back in. You should also consider if a high tide will make launching and landing difficult than usual or if a low tide will mean a long walk.

If you want to use your SUP board for downwinding, you might want to check the weather conditions before you set off to see if you can get a decent wind behind you. 

Water Temperature

Different people have different preferences, so it’s hard to come up with a standard water temperature that everyone will like. But being on the water on a sunny day can make the water feel warmer, and similarly, if you go out on a windy day, the water might feel cooler than it actually is.

Here are a few suggestions about the temperature of the water.

85 degrees plus. This is the most ideal water for beginners. As a beginner, you will probably fall into the water - a lot, so it’s nicer to fall into warmer water. If the water is cold and you know you are going to fall in, it might make you nervous about falling in and that’s not good for learning how to balance. 

80 degree range. These temperatures are popular with intermediate paddlers, as they don’t fall off very often. And if you are out on the water on a hot day, you might actually find it more comfortable being in the water than standing on your board.

70 to low 80 degrees. Advanced paddlers like a nice, comfortable temperature to be on and in the water. This range is not too cold if you fall in, and not too hot to be out on the water.

60 to low 70 degrees. This is preferred by expert paddlers. The more experienced you are, the more aggressively you paddle. So you will generate a fair bit of body head as you go. If the water temperature is too high, that might make you feel too warm when you fall in.

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Other Factors That Might Affect Your SUP Session

Tides and currents: If you mostly go to the same place for paddle boarding, you will soon be familiar these. But as beginner, it’s still worth doing some research before you go out for your first SUP session or if you are going somewhere new.

You might not be able to see what’s underneath the water from the surface, so it’s important to know the currents in order to avoid any potential danger. Tides go in and out, and it will affect the depth of the water, this is also something you should know and pay attention to when out on the water.

Fog: Thick fog might make you lose sight of the way you are going and can make you feel uncomfortable. But some people do love this kind of challenge. If you are going on a long distance tour, you might not be able to avoid this. Note that fog will not only make it hard for you to see through but also other people on the water. So carry a light with you if you knew there’s going to be fog on the way.

How To Deal With Sudden Changes In Weather

In certain countries and regions of the world, the weather can change very quickly. And changes can catch you off guard. That’s why it’s strongly recommended you learn how to be prepared for situations like this. You should wear suitable clothing, take extra supplies, bring your phone with you and put it in a waterproof case.

Things to pay attention to with sudden weather changes might be: has the wind suddenly changed direction and become stronger? Think about how sensible it is to keep paddling away from the start if this is the case.

Can you hear rumblings of thunder in the distance? Again, assess the situation, is it still sensible to paddle? Constantly being aware of your surroundings is important in any outdoor pursuits. Make sure when you’re paddling you’re constantly weighing up any risk vs reward should these situations crop up.

What to do if you find yourself caught in a thunder or lightning storm?
If you find yourself caught in a lightning storm, follow the advice of the National Weather Service: “When thunder roars, get indoors!”

Your best bet is to seek shelter as quickly and safely as possible. Review your chart before you set off to pinpoint optional safety destinations in the area you will be paddling, in the case of an impending storm. If at all possible, get out of the water and take shelter in a building. If you’ve done your research before going out and chosen safe locations in the area, you should be able to make it there quickly.

According to Boating Magazine: Lightning always seeks the highest spot, and it’s basically you when you are on the paddleboard. If you are on open water and can’t get to land, Boating Magazine suggest putting on your life jacket and finding a protected area out of the wind.

Remove all metal jewelry, stay away from metal objects, electrical outlets and any appliances. Get as low as possible in the center of your inflatable paddle board and stay out of the water. A storm will generally dissipate in 20 to 30 minutes. If you want to go out on the water again after the storm, rule of thumb is to wait 30 minutes after the last round of thunder.

It's important to check the weather before you go out and pay attention to any changes in weather conditions when you are out on the water. You can never be too careful. Do your research before you go out and be prepared for any sudden changes in weather and dangerous situations when you are out on the water.

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