WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

My brother and I are wanting to take a fishing trip out to the Gulf Stream. We were wanting to know if the ocean is calmest when there is a high pressure or a low pressure?

Posted July 8, 2007

MIKE MOSS SAYS:      Bobby,     In most cases, waters will be calmer near the center of a high pressure system than near the center of a low pressure system, but there are numerous exceptions and caveats to that general rule. In most cases, waves will be highest where winds are strongest, and that is usually the case where there is a strong gradient between a high pressure center and a low. On a weather map, this would be characterized by a large number of isobars (lines of equal  pressure) between the two, or in many cases in concentric circles around a low. Also, there is a dependence on how long the winds blow at a higher speed over a particular area. If the area you're traveling to is near the center of a sizable high pressure system for some time, it is likely that the waters there will be reasonably calm, at least in terms of wind waves. There is still the possibility of large swells that may be traveling through the area that originated some distance away, and it is also possible that you could encounter moderate waves associated with seabreeze winds near shore. Both of those effects would not necessarily be obvious just looking at a weather map that shows a large highcenter or ridge in place. So, be sure to check all the appropriate coastal and offshore waters forecasts for the area you'd like to visit before heading out. A good place to look those up, along with some buoy and tower observations that can give you a sense of seas and winds, is



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