Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Gearing Up For Gulf Shores: Everything You Need to Know to Prepare for the Weather

Gulf Shores, Alabama is a renowned destination in the beach volleyball scene, hosting major tournaments like the Gulf Coast Beach Fest Beach National Qualifier and NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships. If you’re planning to play in Gulf Shores this summer, it’s essential to be well-prepared for the weather conditions. To help you get ready, we’ve gathered insights from Brandon Black, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama.

Gulf Coast Humidity

Humidity plays a significant role in Gulf Shores’ climate. The level of humidity is determined by the dew point temperature, which indicates the amount of moisture in the air. Higher dew points make the air feel stickier and more uncomfortable.

Athlete Advice

Before arriving in Gulf Shores, it’s essential to check the dew point temperatures. Additionally, maintaining good hydration habits is crucial, especially in high humidity environments.

“It’s important to bring water and stay hydrated,” advises Black. “Humidity can take a lot out of you, especially if you’re from drier areas.”

Best Time to Visit Gulf Shores

According to Black, early May is considered the ideal time to visit Gulf Shores. During this period, the weather is relatively dry, with mild temperatures in the 80s and lower dew points. As the month progresses, the weather pattern shifts, and by early June, temperatures start to rise. However, it is still less humid compared to the peak summer months of July through September.

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Sea Breeze and Wind Patterns

Gulf Shores experiences a unique weather phenomenon called a sea breeze. This onshore wind occurs due to temperature differences between the land and the adjacent bodies of water. In the summer, land heats up faster than the water, creating an area of low pressure over the land and higher pressure over the water. As a result, winds blow from the water towards the land, bringing in cooler air.

Athlete Advice

Gulf Shores’ coastline is east-west oriented, meaning that the sea breeze usually comes from the south. Understanding the timing when the sea breeze starts is crucial for beach volleyball players. Flags on the lifeguard towers can provide visual cues for when the wind picks up. Typically, the sea breeze intensifies around 1-2 p.m. and lasts until 4-5 p.m.

“The big thing is to figure out WHEN the sea breeze starts. That is when you can look at the flags on the lifeguard towers for visual cues,” states Black.

Thunderstorms and Safety Precautions

Unlike spring storms that taper off in May, thunderstorms in June through August are often triggered by the sea breeze. These storms are relatively predictable as they occur in the afternoon. Being aware of the weather conditions is essential to ensure safety on the beach.

“When you’re on the beach looking inland, you may start to see white, puffy, cotton-ball clouds. That’s the front of the sea breeze,” explains Black. “When those clouds start to grow and look like large pillars, that’s a developing thunderstorm. You have about 45 minutes to an hour from that point before the rain starts.”

Important Notes for Gulf Shores Visitors

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If you are planning to visit Gulf Shores, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

Bring Sunscreen

Due to the high angle of the sun in Gulf Shores, it’s crucial to bring sunscreen and wear a hat to protect yourself from sunburn.

Use Sand Socks or Footwear

In the late summer, the sand can become extremely hot and cause burns on your feet. Consider wearing sand socks or suitable footwear to avoid discomfort.

Stay Informed About Water Conditions

If you’re planning to swim after a match, be aware of water conditions and any potential risks. Check the lifeguard flags for information on surf and currents. The colors of the flags indicate the current conditions:

  • Yellow: Moderate surf or currents
  • Red: Dangerous surf or currents
  • Two Red Flags: Water is closed
  • Purple: Dangerous marine life is present

Tropical Storms or Hurricanes

While tropical storms or hurricanes can impact the summer weather pattern, they are relatively rare. Should there be any approaching storms, there is usually sufficient advance notice to take appropriate measures.

In summary, with proper preparation and attention to local weather conditions, you can make the most of your time in Gulf Shores. Stay hydrated, stay sun-safe, and enjoy your beach volleyball experience! For more information, visit