Boaters beware: Strong winds ahead - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Boaters beware: Strong winds ahead

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WSIL-- Boaters looking to get on the water might want to keep an eye on the forecast. Two days of strong winds are ahead for southern Illinois. 

WSIL TV3 Chief Meteorologist Jim Rasor says winds are going to pick up on Wednesday. "Likely deal with strong winds with gusts topping 30 miles per hour throughout the day and through the night." 

Rasor says sunny skies and a calm morning on Thursday could be deceiving for boaters. Mid-day Thursday, wind gusts could hit 50 miles per hour.

"My concern is Thursday," he explains. "Folks are going to get up and see that it's not that windy and head out early and then get caught." 

Kris Taylor, District Sergeant with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), says 30 miles per hour winds are dangerous for those with boats smaller than 14 feet, or for large boats that are weighed down with heavy gear and equipment. The winds can create waves of 3 to 5 feet and potentially scary situations.

"The boats can get pushed around pretty easy, especially if they lose power or something. We have had boats that have swamped in the past," Taylor explains. 

Fred Mooney is out on the water almost every day as a crappie fishing guide. "We provide all the equipment. Everything that they need, everything but snacks," the Belle Rive local jokes. 

Mooney says when winds are too strong, going fishing is not worth the risk. "Unfortunately, sometimes people drive a long ways away to come here and go fishing with us, and we just can't take them because it's not safe." 

For those who do go out, Taylor recommends having both a life jacket and cell phone and navigating waves the right way. "Try to not go broad side of the wave. Try to go into the waves and try to make it to the shoreline," he says. 

Taylor also recommends staying as close to the shore as possible, and if boaters go out alone, to let someone know what water they will be on and what time they expect to be back. That way if something does happens, IDNR will know where to send help. 

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