Preparing Your Chicago-Mac Forecast: A Workshop for Sailors

Preparing Your Chicago-Mac Forecast: A Workshop for Sailors

Long-distance sailing and weather forecasting are inseparable. Experienced Chicago-Mac sailors understand that developing a detailed weather forecast and monitoring its evolution on the racecourse is an important strategic and safety aspect of participating in this summer classic. Misjudging the wind forecast can quickly send you to the back of your fleet, while failing to properly assess the risk for severe weather can unnecessarily jeopardize the safety of the crew.

The workshop is designed for Chicago-Mac and other long-distance sailors interested in improving their marine weather forecasting and management skills.

You will develop the following skills at the workshop:

  • How to decode the confusing symbols and meteorological shorthand on forecast graphics.
  • How to predict the development and movement of low pressure systems and their accompanying frontal boundaries.
  • Why the wind behaves the way it does and how to prepare a detailed wind forecast.
  • How to prepare a detailed wave height forecast.
  • How to forecast the potential and nature of severe weather.
  • The terminology used by the National Weather Service during hazardous and severe weather events.
  • How to use Doppler weather radar to help you avoid a hair-raising encounter with thunderstorms.
  • Where to find forecast graphics and a strategy for preparing a multi-day marine forecast.
  • The advantages and challenges of using a weather routing program.

The workshop combines classroom instruction, case studies, and hands-on forecasting exercises to create an engaging learning experience.

  • Download the outline describing the workshop.

Chicago-Mac Weather Articles
I have written several articles summarizing interesting and sometimes dramatic weather events during previous Chicago-Macs:

  • Severe thunderstorms during the 2011 Chicago-Mac ravaged the fleet near the Fox Islands and led to the capsize of Wing Nuts, a Kiwi 35. Click here to read more.
  • Light winds and thunderstorms combined to create a challenging start to the 2016 race. Click here to read more.
  • A rare thunderstorm event called a heat burst occurred during the 2017 race. Click here to read more.
  • To add insult to injury, a strong cold front swept down Lake Michigan on Sunday during the 2017 race. Strong winds and high waves led to nearly 30% of the fleet withdrawing from the race. Click here to read more.

About The Presenter

Mark Thornton has been sailing for more than 25 years and currently owns Osprey, a C&C 35. His interest in weather forecasting grew from his experiences cruising and racing on the Great Lakes. Mark is a 2006 graduate of the Penn State University Certificate of Achievement in Weather Forecasting, a two-year program that develops skills in general, tropical, and severe weather forecasting.

He is the president of LakeErieWX LLC, a company dedicated to providing marine weather education and forecasting resources for recreational boaters ( Mark publishes a marine weather blog and teaches basic forecasting seminars to recreational boaters during the off-season. He has served as the Race Meteorologist for the Bell’s Beer Bayview Race to Mackinac since 2014. Mark is also employed as a Teaching Assistant in the Certificate of Achievement in Weather Forecasting Program at Penn State University.

As both a sailor and a meteorologist, I am uniquely qualified to improve the weather-related skills of your members. Please contact me by email or call 440-250-9179 to learn how a weather forecasting seminar can help address your organization's educational, safety, and membership goals.

Click here to view my meteorological resume or here to read about my marine weather forecasting seminars and workshops.

Interested in reading and learning more about marine weather? A few times each year, I publish an article on an interesting marine weather event. Click here to subscribe to my 'no spam' email distribution list.

Phone: 440.250.9179

Upcoming Seminars & Presentations

Now scheduling for 2018/2019

December 18, 2018
Weather Forecasting Apps
Great Lakes Cruising Club School
Online Webinar

Click here for more information.

January 11, 2019
Chicago Boat, Sail & RV Show

  • Thunderstorms: A Primer for Coastal & Inland Sailors -- 2:15 to 3:15 pm
  • Doppler Weather Radar: A Sailor's Best Friend -- 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Click here for more information.

January 12, 2019
Chicago Boat, Sail & RV Show

  • Weather Apps -- 1:00 to 2:00 pm
  • Demystifying The Wind -- 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Click here for more information.

January 13, 2019
Creating Your Chicago-Mac Forecast: A Workshop For Sailors
Chicago Boat, Sail & RV Show
McCormick Place
Chicago, IL

Click here for more information.

January 15 & 17, 2019
Basic Marine Weather Forecasting
S.T.E.M. For High School Students
The Foundry
Cleveland, OH

Click here for more information.

February 26, March 5, 12, & 19, 2019
Great Lakes Cruising Club Weather Savvy Mariner Webinar Series
Online Webinars

Click here for more information.

March 6, 13 , & 20, 2019
Weather Savvy Wednesdays
Edgewater Yacht Club
Cleveland, OH

Click here for more information.

March 9, 2019
Great Lakes Basic Marine Weather Forecasting
Columbia Yacht Club
Chicago, IL

Click here for more information.

April 27 & 28, 2019
Marine Weather Forecasting - Two Day Masters Class
Cruisers University-Annapolis Boat Shows
Annapolis, Maryland
Click here to register at Cruisers University.
Click here for additional information on the seminar.

Seminar Reviews
"You have a passion for meteorology that is contagious and a gift for communicating a complex subject." -- Steve H.

Click here for more testimonials.