From thick, dense fog to wind and rain, our ferry system is the largest in the nation. It sails through the elements every day with 450 daily departures, carrying 22 million riders a year.
"In the winter on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, it can get pretty frightening out there," said Bob Lawrence, passenger. "It's a small boat, so you get tossed around."
Many passengers have similar stories, like Charlie Faddis, who actually enjoys riding in turbulent weather.
"We like it when it's really stormy and the boat is tilting and the coffee cups are sliding around on the table," said Faddis.
And it's not just our wild weather, but even killer whales can rock the boat.
"There was a pod of orcas and everybody ran to one side of the ferry and it started to list," said Bonnie Kregear, Passenger. "The Captain went on the loud speaker and said, 'Everybody center of the ferry!' Haha!"
Captains use everything from the radar, an automated identification system or AIS and GPS to navigate these ferry boats in extreme weather.
"We use a combination of all those sensors to track vessels," said Meridena Kauffman, Chief of Waterways & Management U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound.
At the Coast Guard base, the Vessel Traffic Service tracks the weather and issues advisories when weather conditions shift. They monitor the entire Puget Sound, tracking every single boat that enters our waterways.
"We see them on our monitors, and we let them know if they don't know or they tell us we're going to this location and we keep them advised," said Kauffman.
From the Coast Guard Command Center to the captains and crew members inside those ferry boats, several sets of eyes are watching out for you, so your ride goes smoothly even in stormy weather
"I've seen snowstorms, hailstorms and lots of rain," said Michael Knutson, Passenger. "But the best are these Fall days where all the colors are out and it's not too cold. You bundle up and have a good time."
You can track weather buoy data across the Puget Sound with these National Weather Service website links: