Positive signals from the German Weather Service: Despite Corona: SeaHelp prepares for the 2020 water sports season

Even though everybody is currently talking about the corona crisis - at SeaHelp, preparations for the coming water sports season are in full swing. To this end, the rescue boats have to be transferred to Punat, where SeaHelp employees and technicians are carrying out necessary repairs. A SeaHelp spokesperson: "At the moment we are assuming in Croatia that the start of the water sports season will simply be postponed for a few weeks. That's why we need to be well prepared - also for safety reasons - when the season starts".

Due to the hard work last season, man and material were put to a hard test. Here it is important to replace the neuralgic parts in good time, because safety is the top priority, also for the SeaHelp fleet.

New engines

The work that is currently being carried out is both costly and time-consuming. SeaHelp has invested in two new Yamaha outboards with 300 hp each in the rescue boat stationed in Zadar, and the rescue boat in Istria is being fitted with a completely new hose. All other rescue boats will be thoroughly serviced, including engines, technology and, of course, the extensive equipment on board.

Just in time for the start of the water sports season, which is expected to start a little later this year, the SeaHelp rescue boats will also be ready for the summer. Most boat owners probably hope that the water sports season will not literally fall into the water, even if with a delay. Courage might probably be inspired by a press release of the German weather service DWD), which promises careful all-clear signal especially for the warmer regions of Europe.

Yamaha 300 HP outboard motor
Shortly before the “wedding”: The 300 HP Yamaha motor is brought to the boat with a winch.

German weather service gives hope

It literally says: “Not only is the Coronavirus omnipresent in the media these days, but influenza (the “real flu”) has also made the headlines frequently in recent days: One could read of a “flu wave in Germany”, of “80,000 sick and 130 dead”. But how is it that so many people are infected with the influenza virus (i.e. the “real flu”), especially in winter?

One reason for this is the humidity: The more humid the air is, the lower the risk of infection. A few years ago, scientists discovered that a relative humidity of over 40 percent drastically reduces the infectivity of influenza viruses. In their study, the researchers wanted to simulate conditions as close to reality as possible and set up two dummies at a distance of two metres: As if coughing, one of the dummies expelled air containing influenza viruses. At the same time, the other dummy breathed in. The researchers then tested the infectiousness of the air-virus mixture at a relative humidity in the room of between 7 and 73%.

At a humidity of up to 23%, three quarters of the virus particles were still contagious after one hour. At about 43% humidity, however, the proportion of infectious particles shrank to only about one fifth.

But absolute humidity (amount of water vapour in the air) also has an influence. Since warmer air can absorb considerably more water vapour than cold air, the absolute humidity in the winter months is much lower than in summer anyway.
It seems to be undisputed that during drought in winter the influenza viruses are more stable and therefore the spread is more efficient. What is unknown, however, is the mechanism behind it, i.e. why exactly the influenza viruses feel so comfortable in winter conditions. An interdisciplinary Swiss research team will now investigate this question over the next four years.

Conclusion

Please note: The German Weather Service (DWD) is a higher federal authority based in Offenbach am Main, Hesse. It performs its function in the form of a public law institution within the area of responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and should therefore be considered neutral, i.e. free of any interests.

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