Can You Scuba Dive When It’s Raining?

Can You Scuba Dive When It’s Raining

Some may find a question about whether you can scuba dive when it’s raining strange or even funny, as surely you’re going to get wet in any event. But it’s actually a valid question, as often times when it rains, the rain is part of a weather system or a storm. Which is why it’s important to know whether you can scuba diving when it’s raining and what else to know about the type of whether that accompanies the rain.

You can scuba dive when it’s raining if the rain isn’t part of a storm with strong winds that’s causing the sea state to be dangerous to dive and if the visibility hasn’t been badly affected above or below the water. If the rain is part of a storm and the winds are too much for diving you can’t dive.

How does the rain affect the diving?

Rain affects scuba diving in a number of ways, as follows:

  1. Choppier waters from stronger winds.
  2. Poor visibility above the water.
  3. Less light penetration and colours underwater from an overcast sky.
  4. Reduced underwater visibility from rain run-off.
  5. Reduced underwater visibility due to turbulence from rain storms.
  6. Keeping warm between dives as it’s colder when it rains.
Choppier waters from stronger winds that accompany the rain can affect diving

1. Choppier waters from stronger winds that accompany the rain can affect diving

It’s not the rain that necessarily affects scuba diving, but the other weather that comes with it. Often times rain is part of a storm system and it’s the storm and wind that’s the enemy of scuba divers. Wind will create choppy seas, and if the sea swells are too severe, this will stop you from diving safely. In windy conditions it becomes too dangerous to get into, and more importantly, out of the water and on to the dive boat.

If the sea state isn’t too rough to stop the dive, but the seas are choppier than normal, this can affect some divers who don’t have good sea legs. If you suffer from sea sickness, you may want to take some sea sickness medication with you on the dive boat when it’s raining.

Rain systems can cause poor visibility making it dangerous to scuba dive

2. Rain systems can cause poor visibility above the water making it dangerous to scuba dive

Poor visibility caused by heavy rain, low cloud and fog not only creates a hazard for the dive boat, but it will make it more difficult to spot divers when they surface. The last thing any dive boat skipper wants to happen is lose divers out at sea. Which means that if the rain is heavy and combined with poor visibility above the water, it’s likely to prevent the dives.

Poor visibility above the water can also affect shore diving too. If you surface out at sea in bad visibility due to heavy rain, you may not be able to see the land.

When I was sailing a hobby cat in Barbados from my hotel a heavy rain cloud passed over. When it did so, I literally couldn’t see more than a few metres from the boat. I couldn’t see land or anything other than the small bit of water around the boat. It gets very disorientating. When I returned, my wife was very concerned, as for a while she couldn’t see me either. Of course I was also being battered by the strong winds that accompanied this rain cloud too.

Pro diver tip. Before you set off on your shore dive, take a compass bearing so you know which way it is back to the shore.

Scuba diving is affected by an overcast sky as light penetration and colours underwater are less

3. Scuba diving is affected by an overcast sky as light penetration and colours underwater are less

Rain clouds will obscure the sunlight and reduce the amount of light on a dive, but this shouldn’t prevent you from continuing with the dive even if it is raining. An overcast sky will affect the amount of light that penetrates underwater. A lack of sunlight will affect the colours too. But on the other hand, a dull or cloudy day can sometimes encourage certain fish species out during the day too.

Underwater visibility from run-off caused by rain will affect scuba diving

4. Underwater visibility from run-off caused by rain will affect scuba diving

Most scuba diving is done within a short distance from land, especially if it is a shore dive or diving from a day-boat. Which means if there are any nearby rivers flowing into the diving area, this may affect the underwater visibility. Low visibility diving isn’t much fun, as you can’t see much and is when you can end up losing your dive buddy in the gloom.

But if you’re diving from a liveaboard, you are often further away from the mainland and are less likely to be affected by run-off caused by rain.

Pro diver tip. If you decide to dive in poor visibility, make sure you take extra safety precautions. You and your dive buddy should have done the necessary training for low visibility diving and one of you should really have experience of this type of diving for your own safety.

Underwater visibility due to turbulence from rain storms will be affected

5. Underwater visibility due to turbulence from rain storms will be affected

Water turbulence and wave action resulting from a rain storm will usually stir up the bottom. This is especially true at shallower depths.

Swells and water turbulence will often reduce the visibility on a dive, and this reduced visibility can last for several days even after the rain storm has passed through. So whilst you can scuba dive when it’s raining, or when it has been raining, it might not be much fun if you can’t see anything due to poor underwater visibility.

6. Keeping warm between dives is affected by the rain

It gets notably cooler when it rains. This isn’t a problem when you’re diving somewhere warm like the Maldives, but if it’s somewhere like the UK rain can make it quite a lot cooler.

This is where choosing the right exposure suit is very important. Especially if you’re on a day boat and doing two dives. If the boat doesn’t have a very good cabin and you’re out in the rain in a wetsuit during your surface interval, you can get quite cold in between dives. This is especially if it’s raining, and even more so if its windy too.

Make sure to take this into account and take some extra exposure protection, like a waterproof jacket to wear during your surface interval. Also, take a banana to eat, as this is great for extra energy.

Pro diver tip and scuba diving story. I will recount a story of diving in the rain. It was from Portland Harbour in the UK. I was diving in a semi-dry suit with an army unit. There were six of us in a squidgy, which is a small inflatable dingy with a small outboard motor. The rain was coming down in stair-rods and didn’t let up the whole time. We all did the dive and I remember coming to the surface to face yet more rain and a long boat ride back.

When we got to the shore I had the onset of hypothermia. It took a long time for me to get warm again! The moral of the story is to choose what weather you dive in carefully, but more importantly, choose your exposure suite wisely. I should have dived in a drysuit, if I have, I wouldn’t have got as cold, which is what my dive buddies were diving with. Also take into account what you should wear after scuba diving too to stay warm.

Final thoughts on can you scuba diving in the rain

Deciding on whether you scuba dive when it’s raining is not always as easy as you might think. You need to consider three main factors when deciding on whether to scuba dive when it’s raining:

  • Is it safe to dive? Above all else, you need to make sure that you and your dive buddy are going to be safe when you are scuba diving. Before deciding on diving in the rain, consider whether the conditions might get worse. You don’t want to find yourself out in stormy seas in the boat that’s not designed for the conditions. Or you don’t want to be shore diving, only to return the beach with high waves crashing into the shore that you will somehow have to navigate.
  • Will you get cold? It’s no fun getting cold and if you get hypothermia that can be dangerous. Make sure you choose the correct exposure suit for the conditions if you decide to dive when it’s raining.
  • The fun factor. Finally, scuba diving is supposed to be fun. It shouldn’t be a chore and if the rain and weather is so bad, give the dive a miss.

I hope you enjoyed this article about can you scuba dive when it’s raining

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof go-pro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about can you scuba dive when it’s raining), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkeling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

Can You Scuba Dive When It’s Raining?

Article written by Russell Bowyer who has been a scuba diver since diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1989. After his first dive he trained as a BSAC diver in the UK. He attained his Diver Leader certification with BSAC. He then went on to become a scuba diving instructor, teaching others how to dive and was voted as Diving Officer and Treasurer for the Saffron Walden BSAC club too. Russell has dived all over the world, including the UK, on liveaboards in the Red Sea, the Caribbean, South Africa and the USA. Russell is experienced in all dive types, including drift diving, deep dives that involved decompression stops and recreational dives too.

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