Storm Imogen battered the south coast of England in February, causing strong winds and rain in addition to the usual travel chaos. For surfers, however, it brought exciting opportunities to ride mammoth waves of epic proportions, but just how safe is it to head out for a surf during a storm?
If you are not an experienced swimmer or surfer, it pays to stay well clear of the water during a storm. Even the experienced surfer should assess the situation carefully before heading out, checking tide times and local conditions to make sure they are not putting themselves in danger. If visibility worsens, always leave the water. Rescue attempts are much harder during adverse weather conditions, so don’t put yourself at risk of getting into trouble on the waters.
If there is a warning on the beach, either for swimmers or vessels entering the water, take heed. Only surf on beaches that are protected or sheltered and that you are used to.
In addition to researching tide times, check the weather forecast. If a storm is accompanied by thunder and lightning, you should leave surfing until another time. Surfers can be an easy target for lightning strikes, so wait until electrical storms have passed.
While many surfers are happy to hop on their long board when it rains, how safe is this in reality? If you live near a built up area, the quality of the water may be affected during and after rainy weather, with many experts suggesting that you should not take to the water for about three days following a heavy rainstorm. Increased water pollution from storm pipes may raise the risk of catching bugs and infections while out at sea, with ear infections and tummy upsets being particularly common.