NOAA’s New Marine Forecast Product Improves Weather Forecasts and Safety at Sea

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GOES-16 satellite image captures the rapidly-deepening storm off the East coast of the United States on Jan. 4, 2018, at 16:22 UTC. Image credit: NASA

By Tom Cuff, Director, NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center

NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) rolled out a new forecast product suite this week to provide mariners with comprehensive weather forecasts every 24 hours out to day four. Our goal is to deliver the very best impact-based decision support services and products possible to our users. These 72 hour surface weather and wind/wave forecast charts, and model generated 500 mb charts, will allow mariners to better prepare for severe weather at sea.

Complementing OPC’s 24, 48, and 96 hour products, the new 72 hour forecast charts fill a gap to ensure an even more robust forecast timeline, while identifying areas of maritime weather hazards. Elements include:

  • Winds and waves
  • Surface fronts and isobars
  • High and low pressure systems
  • 500 millibar heights
  • Wave period and direction

In order to implement these new charts, OPC reviewed existing products and services to ensure quality, consistency, and user needs given the ever-changing landscape of models and other forecast tools. Following a public comment period, minor changes were made to legacy products to allow our team to deliver this critically important new forecast tool to improve safety of life and property at sea. We began socializing this new approach with the maritime community in November 2016, and since then have received support from users across the industry.

These products do not lessen the quality of other legacy products disseminated via HFFAX. We are working hard to take the best possible advantage of 21st century forecasting skill and make it available to our users.

As the maritime weather enterprise continues to evolve, it is our goal to continually deliver the very best products, so we must be nimble enough to evolve too. We take seriously our mission to provide the world’s best marine weather forecasts, while preventing loss of life and property at sea.

Visit NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center website for additional forecasts and information.