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Local angler has inside info on the weather

He just wanted to know when the surf was in, and it led to a career.

National Weather Service senior meteorologist Rick Davis, a 41-year-old Bradenton resident, began surfing at Boca High in Boca Raton.

He began studying the weather to find out when the big waves would be in, and has been a meteorologist at the NWS for 11 years.

He plays a big part in what goes into the information that’s on www.nationalweatherservice.com.

The Web site provides a marine forecast for five days, and includes a point-and-click forecast, where one can click on a point to that specific area’s forecast. For example, nearshore is considered 0-20 miles offshore and offshore is considered 20-60 miles offshore. Anglers can even get forecasts for the Middlegrounds some 100 miles offshore.

When Davis started surfing some 20 years ago, there were two computer models for weather forecasting. Now there are dozens. But the life of a meteorologist isn’t always easy. Despite the accuracy of the forecasts, it seems that people tend to only remember that day in which the prediction was a bit off.

“You can get the prediction right 10 days in a row within a couple degrees,” Davis said with a chuckle, “and on day 11 you miss the forecast and that’s what they remember.”

The National Weather Service is a government agency that is the only official United States’ government forecast. The Web site is especially beneficial for snowbirds, who can get weather reports from Tampa Bay to Michigan.

The Web site offers tide charts, wind speeds, basically everything an angler needs to prepare for a fishing trip.

Knowing the weather is critical in fishing, and not just to avoid thunderstorms around Tampa Bay, known as the lightning capital of the world.

Anglers can become students of weather through various forms of research, and thus become incredibly effective at predicting hot areas to fish, as well as avoiding any unwanted weather.

For example, anglers know that if the wind is blowing into a tide that the tide will actually move slower. This, of course, may mean fishing less for tide-dependent snook.

Or that the formation of clouds over the horizon on a clear-sky day means that the air pressure is dropping, because the land is heating up and the air from the land is overcoming the air from above.

Likewise, a sea breeze takes place when the temperature over the shoreline heats and rises, and is replaced by air from the sea. The sea breeze on the Gulf coast can make a high tide higher, and push more fish into mangroves. Conversely, an easterly wind can make a low tide dramatically lower, pushing fish such as trout into deeper water. From there, an angler may want to consider that trout may remain in deeper water throughout the afternoon.

Davis, of course, is quite the avid angler and doesn’t exactly need to consult any weather channel. He may choose from the weather-predicting equipment in his office, or maybe just gaze at the horizon.

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