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Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 224
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, February 05, 2017 - 04:17 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Saw this article in Ocean Navigator regarding a new type of Hi Def GEOS satellite NOAA is launching - check out the photo gallery in the link the end - spectacular!

http://www.oceannavigator.com/Web-Exclusives-2017/Weather-satellites-go-high-def /
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 223
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, February 05, 2017 - 01:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Saw this article in Ocean Navigator regarding a new type of Hi Def GEOS satellite NOAA is launching - check out the photo gallery in the link the end - spectacular!

http://www.oceannavigator.com/Web-Exclusives-2017/Weather-satellites-go-high-def /
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 218
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Friday, March 06, 2015 - 12:35 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Folks, ran across an updated copy of the NWS Observing Handbook #1 and thought it would be valuable to share some valuable information from Ch.4 relating to the value and practice of ship-board weather observations. Chapter 4 is excerpted here:

application/pdfNWS Observation Handbook Ch4
ObservingHandbook Ch 4.pdf (92.3 k)


The full handbook is available for download at:
http://www.vos.noaa.gov/ObsHB-508/ObservingHandbook1_2010_508_compliant.pdf
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 196
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Monday, April 09, 2012 - 10:03 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

From the Seven Seas Cruising Association:

The Ocean Prediction Center recently made a change to their 24, 48, and 96 hr forecast surface charts to remove the 24 hr previous track position for pressure centers. There are a number of reasons why this decision should be reversed. Your input is needed by May 1.

Go to http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/feedback_tracks.shtml and follow the instructions given, or

Email Tony Siebers at anthony.siebers@noaa.gov

For more information or to join the discussion on the SSCA Forum, go to http://forum.ssca.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=13261
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 150
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 12:49 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, Seven Seas Cruising Association (www.ssca.org) is presenting a pair of online weather seminars over two nights starting 1/24/11 (sorry for the late notice). Cost is $60 for both nights ($80 for non-SSCA members). Further info at http://www.sevenseasu.com/7seasu/


Duration: 1.5 Hours
Date: Monday, January 24 at 20:00 Eastern (GMT 01:00)
Instructor: Chris Parker

Course Fee: $35 - SSCA Members / $45 - Non Members

Every time I present this seminar, I'm amazed how many people tell me that, for the first time, they now really understand something about Marine Weather. And the course is not just for beginners - we explore atmospheric lift/convection, which many advanced courses gloss-over, and devote lots of time to convergence and convection and TROFs.

I take a practical approach, keep the discussion relevant to Marine weather, and use real-world examples, so you'll remember what you learn long after the Webinar.

Prerequisites: None. This is an excellent foundation weather course. Once you understand "Weather 101", you'll be better prepared to get the most out of other weather courses and weather books.

Prepared Webinar runs about 60 minutes, followed by a question & answer session of up-to-30 minutes, during which Chris will field questions on any weather-related or Cruising-related topic. Total seminar time may run 90 minutes.

Further Study: In Weather 102, we'll review "Weather 101" topics, and handle the surface influences of upper-air weather (again keeping the discussion tightly-focused on the Marine environment).
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 137
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2010 - 02:42 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, found a great resource on the Pangolin web site (the NZ folks that host the Yotreps vessel tracking service that I talked about) for using and analyzing satellite imagery, particularly useful in areas off the beaten path that don't generate a lot of ship reports:

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/jetsam/view_article.php?idx=22
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 136
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 - 06:04 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, my friend Lee Chesnau, formerly of the NWS now has his own web site dedicated to weather for the mariner. Definitely worth a look...

http://www.marineweatherbylee.com/

PS He also periodically does seminars for the Seven Seas Cruising Association, in fact one is just wrapping up...
 

David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 326
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Thursday, November 05, 2009 - 12:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks, The weather event Ted references will be conducted on Nov 22 as well. On November 8 I expect to be entering Ensenada mid-day. (Oh My God I'm actually going sailing!!)

My boat has been down six months with an engine issue. I'm helping a customer on the first leg of his cruise.

Ocean Navigator has an excellent weather article I'm still digesting Nov/Dec 09, p 38 by David Burch.
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 132
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Thursday, November 05, 2009 - 07:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, my friend Lee Chesnau (formerly senior forecaster at the NWS Marine Prediction Center) is doing a short 1 hour webinar for Seven Seas Cruising Association on updates to weather forecasting tools available to the sailor. From their web site:

There have been many changes to marine weather analysis and forecasts since the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) was first established in the mid 1990s. It is vitally important for mariners to stay current to the latest changes to not only be relevant to your weather information needs but especially as it pertains to your safety. This seminar will provide the information necessary for your own marine weather analyses and "you alone are responsible for." Chart symbols and diagnoses of what it means to mariners of any level (from top line professional, the serious racer, to the leisurely coastal and offshore cruiser) becomes critical in voyage planning and enroute diversions from the original PIM (Planned Intended Movement). This can only be accomplished by developing a strong sense of confidence in today's modern forecasts especially from 72-120 hour time frame--as well as a thorough understanding of what is conveyed on the charts. There can be no excuses since the complete suite of marine weather charts are so readily available to mariners at sea, thanks to today's vastly improved at-sea communications. It is further imperative that mariners have a sense of the suite of product availabilities from surface pressure, upper 500 Mb, and Wind and Waves charts. From a pure safety point of view alone, as well as determining your comfort levels and strategic planning, all mariners should not miss this seminar! Taught by senior marine meteorologist Lee Chesneau.

Cost is $50 ($30 for SSCA members). Lee is a great resource and if you have an interest in being confident in your abilities to predict what the weather will be in the next few days, suggest you tune in.

Further Info at: http://sevenseasu.com/7seasu/index.php?option=com_rsevents&view=events&layout=sh ow&cid=9&Itemid=20
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 126
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, April 05, 2009 - 05:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, a great new treatment of the 500mb chart from the folks at NOAA at:

http://vos.noaa.gov/MWL/dec_08/milibar_chart.shtml
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 124
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 - 08:16 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, from Ocean Navigator's electronic newsletter

http://www.oceannavigator.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Public ations%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=2&did=6A696A42EB82 40AE97EEB9E7EEB7CC51&dtxt=Jan%2FFeb+2009


Weather

Don't forget to read the labels
by Ken McKinley

I am old enough to remember public service announcements on television exhorting us to pay attention to “Larry the Label.” These announcements were designed to raise the awareness of important safety information on labels for consumer products, in particularly products like pesticides that could be very harmful if not used properly.

In the world of marine weather, the labels on forecast charts play the very important role of informing the user where the chart came from, and what it is meant to depict. In particular, lets focus on the dates and times shown on the labels. Forecast charts from the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC), the portion of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service which produces forecasts for the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the mid and high latitudes, carry labels which, among other things, currently show two dates and times: one labeled FROM and one labeled VALID. Forecast charts produced by the Tropical Prediction Center, the portion of NOAA’s National Weather Service which produces forecasts for the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans in the tropical latitudes show dates and times labeled ISSUED and VALID. Forecast charts from the British Meteorological Office carry only a date and time labeled VALID.

All of the dates and times shown on marine weather charts are given in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), also known as Universal Time Coordinated (UTC), or Zulu time (Z). This is the time along the prime meridian, which is 5 hours later than Eastern Standard Time (4 hours later than Eastern Daylight Time) and 8 hours later than Pacific Standard Time (7 hours later than Pacific Daylight Time).

To understand what the times on the labels mean, it is important to understand how the forecasts and charts are generated. There are two forecast cycles each day, one which starts at 0000 GMT and one which starts at 1200 GMT. It is at these times that weather balloons are launched to measure several parameters through the upper atmosphere, and data from land based stations, buoys, and ships at sea are collected. All of this data gives meteorologists a comprehensive picture of the state of the atmosphere at that time. Several types of analysis then occur to organize the data into the best formats for presentation and also for input into several computer models. Usually about an hour after the data collection, the data is ready for the computer models, and they are run. Output from the models is then organized into a useable format as it becomes available through the next couple of hours. The final step in the process occurs when the meteorologist uses the current data, the computer model output, other available tools (satellite and radar input, etc.) along with his or her knowledge of the physics of the atmosphere to generate a forecast product (one example is the marine forecast charts), which is then disseminated to a group of users.

Here is how the times shown on the chart labels relate to this process:

“FROM” This is the initialization time of the forecast cycle. In other words, it is the time of the balloon launches and the gathering of surface observations. It will be either 0000 GMT, or 1200 GMT on any given day.

“ISSUED” This is the date and time that a given chart is completed by the meteorologist doing the work. Depending on the chart, it will be anywhere from an hour to several hours after the initialization of the forecast cycle. In general, shorter range forecast charts will be available earlier than longer range forecast charts. Some types of products take a bit longer to produce than others.

“VALID” This is the date and time (in the future) when the meteorologist expects the conditions will match what is shown on the forecast chart.

The length of the forecast (24 hours, 48 hours, 96 hours, etc.) is keyed off the start of the forecast cycle (e.g. the FROM time). Because of the time it takes to analyze data, run computer models, and generate a forecast, by the time the chart is available to the mariner (the ISSUED time), the forecast chart will be showing conditions for a shorter time (by a couple of hours) into the future than the title might suggest (the VALID time). A common misconception among some users when both a FROM time and a VALID time appear on a forecast chart is that the conditions shown on the chart will apply for the entire period between these two times. This is not correct, the chart shows the conditions expected only at one time, the VALID time.

For forecast charts which show only a VALID time, it is necessary to deduce the forecast cycle from which they came by subtracting the length of the forecast. For example, a 48 hour forecast chart which shows a VALID time of 1200 GMT 5-Jan-09 was produced from the forecast cycle which began at 1200 GMT 3-Jan-09. For forecast charts which show an ISSUED time, but not a FROM time, the forecast cycle initialization will typically be several hours earlier at either 0000 GMT or 1200 GMT. It is important to try, when possible, to evaluate forecast charts produced by the same forecast cycle together. Don’t just key on the VALID time without ascertaining when the charts were produced. Comparing charts from different forecast cycles can be confusing or misleading since the charts from the most recent forecast cycle will have the benefit of more recent actual data.

One of the reasons for the topic of this newsletter is that the OPC will likely soon be changing their labels to include an ISSUED time and perhaps to eliminate the FROM time. Even with this change, though, the process of generating the charts will not change, and mariners should be aware that the chart products themselves will not change either. By understanding how the forecast cycles proceed each day, mariners will be able to use the labels on the charts to determine when the forecast cycle began and when the conditions shown on the chart are expected to occur. And, just like Larry the Label told us decades ago, reading the label will help keep you safe.

About the Author:
Ken McKinley earned a bachelor's degree in atmospheric science from Cornell University in 1980, and attended graduate school in meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After working as a meteorologist for nearly 10 years for a large private consulting firm in Massachusetts, he founded his own meteorological consulting firm, Locus Weather, in Camden, Maine in 1991. A large portion of his business at Locus Weather involves providing custom weather forecast services for oceangoing yachts, both racers and cruisers. Ken serves as an instructor for the Ocean Navigator School of Seamanship, and also as an adjunct instructor at the STAR Centers for Professional Maritime Officers in Dania, Fla., and Toledo, Ohio, and for MITAGS in Baltimore, Md. He has also taught meteorology at Maine Maritime Academy. He resides in Rockport, Maine with his wife and two sons.

Questions for Ken? editors@oceannavigator.com or www.locusweather.com
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 70
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2008 - 02:28 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, I'm pleased to report that the USCG will continue to provide Radiofax weather broadcasts via HF. Links to their press release and analysis are at:

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/high_frequency/HF-WX_notice.htm

Thanks to those who took the time to comment!
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 64
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2008 - 12:31 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

And from the same site, a great explanation of satellite imagery:

http://www.madmariner.com/seamanship/weather/story/READING_A_SATELLITE_WEATHER_I MAGE_020708_SW
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 63
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2008 - 12:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, for those wishing to brush up on their forecasting using 500mb charts, a great link:

http://www.madmariner.com/seamanship/weather/story/READING_500_MILLIBAR_WEATHER_ CHARTS_WEATHER_PREDICTION_042908_SW
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 51
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 04:56 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings Folks, From NOAA regarding weather resources for the central CA coast:

New Marine Zones Effective Tuesday October 2 2007

Effective Tuesday October 2 2007 at 0900 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) the Marine Forecasts from WFO Monterey will be reconfigured to account for differences in weather and climatology for the Central California Coast. This will affect the inner water zones (0-20 nautical miles) from Point Arena to Point Piedras Blancas. This change involves the following two improvements:

* Marine Zone (PZZ550) currently extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point out to 20 nautical miles. This Marine Zone will be split into two zones…Point Arena to Point Reyes out to 20 nautical miles (PZZ540) and Point Reyes to Pigeon Point out to 20 nautical miles (PZZ545).
* Marine Zone (PZZ555) currently extends from Pigeon Point to Point Piedras Blancas out to 20 nautical miles. This Marine Zone will be split into two zones…Pigeon Point to Point Pinos out to 20 nautical miles (PZZ560) and Point Pinos to Point Piedras Blancas out to 20 nautical miles (PZZ565).

Authoritative link: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mtr/marine.php
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 50
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 - 10:55 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, a recent article in a newsletter by Ocean Navigator magazine regarding sources of weather data.

By Ken McKinley
Last time I talked about the availability of weather data on the Internet in a general way. I finished that newsletter by promising to talk about some specific Web sites that are quite useful. So this time I will talk about three U.S. government Web sites with which all mariners should be familiar. These are the Ocean Prediction Center Web site, the Tropical Prediction Center Web site, and the National Data Buoy Center Web site.

The Ocean Prediction Center (www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov) is the branch of NOAA's National Weather Service that is charged with providing forecasts and warnings for the high seas of both the North Atlantic and the North Pacific. There is a treasure trove of information on this Web site, along with links to many other marine-related Web sites. All of the information that is available on the old-fashioned radio weatherfax service is also available here, and is often able to be accessed significantly earlier than its transmission time on the radiofax. Surface and upper air charts as well as sea state charts are available. To best use this information, it is important to understand some basic information about the forecast process.

There are two forecast cycles each day, one starting at 0000 GMT (same as UTC, or Zulu time) and the other starting at 1200 GMT. The forecast cycle begins with the collection of data, including weather balloon data, surface weather observations, land-based stations, buoys and ships. Once this data is gathered, it is analyzed by meteorologists and several analysis charts are prepared. Therefore, anytime a chart has the word "analysis" in its header that means the chart is based on real, observed data. The gathered, analyzed data is then input into several computer models that produce a simulation of how the atmosphere will look in the future. Meteorologists use this computer output along with other data and their knowledge and expertise to generate forecasts, some of which are issued as text products, and others that are presented in graphic form. These are called "forecast" charts, and they will be so labeled in their header. The header will contain two date/time lines: the "from" date and time indicates the date and time of the start of the forecast cycle, and the "valid" date and time is the time in the future when the data shown on the chart is expected to occur. Keep in mind that forecast products will not be available until a couple of hours after the start of the forecast cycle. This corresponds to the time it takes to gather and analyze the data, run the computer models, and to have the meteorologist come up with his or her forecast.

Now we can look at some of the products found on the Ocean Prediction Center Web site. There are many links to products on the front page, but I prefer to access the products by using the links on the left hand side. For example, by clicking on the "High Seas" link under the "OPC Atlantic Products" header, tables can be found with all of the products arranged by forecast cycle. These tables group the charts by type (surface, upper air, sea state) and by valid time (analysis, 48-hour and 96-hour forecasts). The time of the latest update can be seen so it will be easy to tell if the current day's chart is available.

If your interest is not the high seas, but the nearshore waters, then click on the "Offshore/NAVTEX" link right above the high seas link. And if your interest is even more local, then near coastal text forecasts can be obtained for local areas by scrolling down to the "Multi-national Atlantic & Pacific Text Products" header and clicking on the "Coastal/Offshore/High Seas Forecast" link. From here, you can find the same forecasts that are heard on local NOAA weather radio stations.

These suggestions only scratch the surface of what is available on this Web site. Explanations of the various products are embedded throughout the site, and there are many links to other useful Web sites.

The Tropical Prediction Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov) is the branch of NOAA's National Weather Service charged with providing warnings and forecasts for the tropical regions of the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and also with tracking tropical cyclones (tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes). The front page of this Web site has links to the latest tropical storm advisories when active systems are present. But even when there are not active tropical storms or hurricanes, there are analysis and forecast products similar to those on the Ocean Prediction Center Web site available for the tropical latitudes of the Atlantic and the Pacific. To access them, click on the "Forecasts and Analyses" link in the second line below the large type header for the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific regions. This line begins with the abbreviation "TAFB". This will take you to an easy-to-understand page where surface charts and sea state charts can be found.

The links on the left hand side of the Tropical Prediction Center Web site offer much information about hurricanes, including the history of previous seasons, naming conventions, and safety rules and precautions. There are also links to other tropical weather resources around the world, including, among others, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in the Pacific.

The National Data Buoy Center (www.ndbc.noaa.gov) is where data from weather buoys around the world can be found. By using the map interface, one can zoom into a particular area, and then look at current and past data from individual buoys. Many buoys record wind speed and direction along with temperature and detailed sea state information, but some have more limited information. There are links to many university-sponsored networks of research buoys, and in these regions the networks provide rather dense coverage. Because buoys are mostly in near coastal areas, this information is most useful for coastal sailors. It is a great resource to use to check on actual conditions before heading out for an afternoon of sailing.

Some yachting organizations have set up their own weather Web pages. An example that was emailed to me is www.clubcruceros.org/WeatherPages.htm. This page uses many of the resources that are found on the Web pages above, but has organized the links to be most useful for their user base.

The key with any of these Web pages is to be well aware of what is available, to be able to access it fairly quickly, and to understand what you are looking at. For those who are winding up their sailing season in the northern hemisphere, the coming colder months are a great opportunity to spend some time exploring and becoming familiar with these Web sites and all that they offer. Just a little bit of time every day will pay great dividends for next summer's sailing season.

In a future newsletter I will spend some time looking in detail at some of the specific products on these Web sites. Feel free to email me at locuswx@midcoast.com with questions about any of the products that you would like to have answered.
 

David Sheriff
Board Administrator
Username: admin

Post Number: 113
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - 08:01 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Ted, thanks for posting this. Most of our readership probably limits itself to VHF range, but their dream may well be to take off voyaging. If so, respond to the CG here. The comprehensive responses suggested by the author will put many off. Hey, tell your own story your way, even if its only in a few sentences. A larger, more varied number of replies does not hurt.

I'm not sure what's going to happen to Loran, another service that has been mostly supplanted by GPS satellite. The CG is proposing to kill that too. As sailors, we have learned that backup systems can be invaluable. The tendency of society, however, is to embrace only the latest solution. Massive failures of complex systems (electrical power distribution, air traffic control) are not contemplated until they occur.
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 48
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 09:58 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, the USCG is facing some significant funding requirements with respect to updating the equipment it uses to transmit weather information via HF radio va voice, radiofax, SITOR and NAVTEX, and is asking our help to justify the budget to keep HF weather services running. The last two are probably not used by many of you, but anyone outside of NOAA Radio's VHF range (25 miles or so from the transmitter) should be making use of the voice and facsimile charts for safety purposes.

This article by Jim Corenman comes from the current Seven Seas Cruising Association (www.ssca.org) bulletin (6/07). I hope all of you will take the time to read this and respond appropriately.

The USCG has recently asked for comments regarding the future needs for HF-radio broadcast weather services (voice, fax and SITOR). This has raised some alarm (“They are trying to shut down weatherfax again!”) but in reality the Coast Guard is simply asking for our help. Nothing lasts forever and they need to replace the transmitters used to send the weather broadcasts. It’s a big item (maybe $20 million), and the folks who control the money want confirmation that, in fact, this stuff is important and that it gets used.

Why are weather broadcasts important when there are other sources? The answer is that every other source available to offshore sailors depends on the Internet, and NWS (National Weather Service) itself does not officially support Internet distribution of weather.

We’ll explain in more detail below, but this is not a case where a simple protest will carry much weight. The Coast Guard needs to justify a large expenditure and needs our help doing that. So, folks, if we believe that weather information is important, then let’s take the time to do this right. And broadcast weather IS important, no matter how you are currently getting your weather forecasts.

A copy of the notice and request for comments may be found at http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/p101/466958.pdf . (Scroll down to “High Frequency [HF] Radio Broadcasts...” bottom of the right-hand column). A text version, suitable for downloading via low speed connections and formatted to “fit your screen”, is on the Saildocs server at www.saildocs.com/uscgrequest, or get a copy via email by sending a (blank) email to uscgrequest@saildocs.com. And a copy of this article (with any updates) is at www.saildocs.com/uscgcomments or via email to uscgcomments@saildocs.com.

Note that the notice contains a series of specific questions. This is a test: to be effective, a submission needs to answer the questions. This serves two purposes: to qualify the person making the comments and to make sure that USCG gets all of the information that they need. So as tempting as it is to simply write, “OF COURSE THIS IS IMPORTANT, YOU IDIOTS”; take the time to also answer the questions. The particular format is not important but making specific reference to each question is important—either quote the question followed by your answer, or at a minimum, number your paragraphs to match the question numbers and then incorporate the question into your answer. (e.g., “My position in the maritime community is that of a full-time sailor, my wife and I live aboard and travel extensively aboard yatta, yatta”). Remember that you are speaking to bureaucrats who are familiar with maritime weather but not the peculiarities of your lifestyle.

Some important points: They don’t want duplicate comments, so take the time to write one careful, complete response. And whatever else you write, DO answer the questions because that will make your comments much more meaningful. Explain who you are, how you make use of weather, and why broadcast weather is important. Simply saying “I use this service and do not wish to see it eliminated” is frankly not very compelling. You get one chance to comment, so maximize its effectiveness. (If you already submitted an incomplete comment, then submit an additional comment but make specific reference to your previous comment. Start with something like “I would like to add to my comment of May XX, 2007”.

So why should we care about broadcast weather if we get Grib files via Sailmail or Winlink? Even if you do not routinely use broadcast weather (voice, Weather Fax or SITOR broadcasts), you need it.

Why? Because every other source depends on the Internet to get data from NWS, and the Internet is not part the NWS operational data system. It is sort of a Catch-22: the weather service tells us that HF broadcast weather is the only “official” and reliable way that we can get weather offshore, and then USCG tells us that we need to justify it.

OK, we can do that. Here is what NWS has to say about the Internet: “The Internet is not part of the National Weather Service’s operational data stream and should never be relied upon as a means to obtain the latest forecast and warning data. Become familiar with and use other means such as NOAA Weather Radio to obtain the latest forecasts and warnings”.

Why is that? Simply that NWS has no control over the Internet. If the Internet connections go down, then the data will not be available, and NWS has no way to fix it. Nor do they have any control over whatever network you might use to access that data. It is a complex network, and complex networks have a habit of breaking when you need them most.

The importance of broadcast weather is that it is the simplest possible link to get weather data to you from the weather service. NWS sends it direct to USCG who broadcasts it, and all you need to get a weather chart is a fax receiver, or a computer with a sound-card connection to the radio, no fancy modem. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, and simplicity = reliability.

Even if you routinely get charts and computer-model Grib’s via radio-email or a Sat phone, HF broadcast weather is every bit as important to you as it is to the folks who use nothing else. Broadcast weather is the only operational source of US weather that is available to offshore sailors, and weather information is an important component of maritime safety. Therefore, if you are an offshore sailor (i.e., out of range of the NOAA VHF Weather Radio), then it is a very important component of YOUR maritime safety no matter what else you might have available.

So don’t hesitate to say that. Even though you don’t routinely use SITOR (radio teletype) text broadcasts to get the warnings and forecasts, it is critically important because what you are using (e.g., weather via email by Sat phone) depends on the Internet, which is not an operational system of the NWS. The only operational systems available to you for getting warnings and forecasts are the USCG HF-radio broadcasts. Similarly with fax charts, you can get those as graphics-image files via Sat phone or Winlink (dollars or time permitting), but again those depend on Internet and are not considered operational by NWS.

When it comes to charts there is also a rather large issue of efficiency. Each weather chart sent via radio-fax takes 10 minutes to send to many thousands of users. If each chart were delivered via radio-email, then it would require 5-20 minutes per chart, PER USER. And realistically, to get a proper look at the weather requires half a dozen charts a day: analysis; 24, 48, 96-hour progs; 500mb prog; wind/wave charts; 00 and 12Z upJune 2007 Page 28 Seven Seas Cruising Association dates, etc. Do the math! There aren’t enough stations, or enough bandwidth, or enough hours in the day to do make that work for very many users. In theory, it can be done via Satphone for a few bucks a day, but again the math doesn’t work if everyone needs a half dozen charts every day. (Had any problems getting a Sat phone connection lately?)

So here are some suggestions:
• Answer the questions, it will establish your credibility and provide context for your comments.

• Point out that while there are other means of getting weather information, those are Internet-based, require more complex equipment, and are not considered operational by NWS. Consider mentioning that for those outside the range of the NOAA VHF radio network, the USCG broadcasts are currently the ONLY operational means of getting weather information.

• It may also be worth mentioning that, operational status aside, alternative means of getting information (e.g., radio email, satellite phones) involve much more complex systems at both ends and have many more points of failure.

• Also point out the inherent efficiency of “broadcasting” the same information to large numbers of users simultaneously.

Comments can be submitted online, mailed, sent by fax, or delivered in person. Whatever you do, write up your comments offline using MS Word or some other word-processing software. Do not attempt to compose your comments online.

To comments that have already been submitted online, go to http://dms.dot.gov and click on “Simple Search.” Enter the docket# 27656 and click “Search.” You will see a list of submitted comments. The first one is a copy of the official notice from the USCG (same as the link above). The other comments are mostly an exercise of how NOT to respond: most do not answer the questions, do not explain the submitter’s role in the maritime community, and do not explain why the broadcast services are important. There are a few good examples, e.g., #22, but most are useless.

Folks, we can do better and we must do better if we want to continue to get weather.

To file online, do the following:
1. Write your submission in MS Word or your favorite word processing software, with no fancy formatting, this is plain-text.

2. Go to the http://dms.dot.gov/ website, click on “Comment/Submissions,” click “Continue” and fill in the details. (Be complete and tell the truth, it is only your government—perfectly harmless). Docket# is 27656 and “Operating Administration” is USCG. The title of the docket is “High Frequency (HF) Radio Broadcasts of Marine Weather Forecasts and Warnings.”

3. Click “Continue”, and you will see the comments box.

4. Go back to your word-processing software, select all of the text, copy it to the clipboard and paste it into the comments box.

5. Review your comment, fix anything needed, and click “Submit”. There is an option to attach a file with your comment, but my suggestion is to keep the formatting simple and stick to plain text.

Good sailing, JIM CORENMAN (KE6RK)
Ed. Note: Jim Corenman is a cofounder of the Sailmail Association, creator of the Saildocs weather server and author of the Airmail software used to access Sailmail and Winlink. He and his wife Sue have been members of SSCA since 1992.
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 33
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 11:40 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

For your weather geeks out there, a link to the National Weather Service Weather Observation Handbook, used aboard vessels that are part of the NWS Voluntary Observing Ship system supplying the NWS with weather data on the high seas (those funny numbers you see in the ocean on the synoptics charts are reporting vessels).

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/handbk1.pdf
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 32
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 11:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Interesting online introduction to west coast fog:

http://meted.ucar.edu/fogstrat/ic31/ic313/index.htm
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 15
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 10:27 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, the NWS has added color downloads to its GEOS (Geostationary) satellite imagery site, greatly increasing the amount of information presented. I've added a link to this information in the list of weather links in my earlier post.

Basically the color shows different cloud heights. The higher the clouds, the more convective activity present. I used to have to bring the images into OCENS SeaStation 2000 to reveal this info, but the NWS is doing it for us. Highly recommended!
 

Ted Lavino
Moderator
Username: tlavino

Post Number: 14
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 09:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, a site that aggregates bouy data on one page, making it easier to spot trends, etc.:

http://www.pdfamily.com/weather/buoy/SWbuoy.php
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 435
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 - 11:36 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings Weather fans, I have found two interesting resources that may be of interest:

1. For those of you who use the Surface Analysis charts from the NWS, have you noticed the wind flags out in the middle of the ocean, each with its own identifiying number? Did you ever wonder how the NWS gets data from the open ocean to create their forecasts?

These numbers are actually ships that participate in the The Worldwide Voluntary Observing Ship Scheme whereby a combination of hardware and software aboard oceangoing vessels regularly transmit weather related information to a central location, which is then rebroadcast to various countries' meteorological offices, allowing them to create products such as the Surface Analysis charts covering the open ocean. More info at the NWS web site at http://www.vos.noaa.gov/vos_scheme.shtml

They also have a great handbook for weather observers at http://www.vos.noaa.gov/ObsHB-508/ObservingHandbook1_2004_508_compliant.pdf Its a very approachable guide to weather observation and weather related topics in general.

2. For those that can't get enough information about weather related topics, the NWS publishes a newsletter called The Mariner's Weather Log that has an amazing amount of informaition about weather, collection of information about it and forecasting it. You can view current and past versions at
http://www.vos.noaa.gov/mwl.shtml.
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 425
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Friday, May 26, 2006 - 12:20 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings Folks, Lee is doing a local version of his two day weather seminar in Marina Del Rey next weekend. Details at: http://ssca.org/eventind.htm

TWO-DAY MARINE WEATHER WORKSHOP
Sponsored by Seven Seas
Cruising Association & West Marine
Why? Before you buy into the world of GRIB . . . learn to make informed weather decisions for safer, self-reliant offshore voyaging:

• Understanding cause & effects of marine weather

• Basics of surface weather and patterns

• Interpretation of OPC surface charts

• Basics of ocean wave formation, propagation & decay

• OPC wind & wave chart interpretation

• Tropical cyclone basics & avoidance

• Introduction to understanding 500 Millibar charts

• Local weather effects and gap winds

Who? Conducted by NWS Senior Meteorologist Lee Chesnau

When? Saturday & Sunday, June 3 & 4, 2006

Where? Del Rey Yacht Club, Marina del Rey, CA – Pacific Room

How? Registration form online at ww.ssca.org/eventind.htm,
e-mail office@ssca.org or call 954-771-5660

$250 fee ($300 non-members) includes workbook, Continental breakfast and lunch. Limited enrollment

Register early to guarantee a space.
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 416
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Saturday, May 06, 2006 - 05:53 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, a new weather site that I found very interesting:

http://www.buoyweather.com/
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 362
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 08:54 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, you might be interested in my post regarding YOTREPS in the Communications area...
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 292
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 08:57 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, thought some might be interested. I've known Lee for quite some time and his seminars filled with practical knowledge that empowers the mariner to make decisions based on what is and will be happening weather-wise. The Strictly Sail Pacific show in Oakland is usually in the middle of April, and is certainly worth the trip...

MarineWeather Forecasting Workshops

The Seven Seas Cruising Association
(SSCA) has teamed up with West Marine to sponsor a series of Marine Weather Forecasting workshops at the Seattle Boat Show in January and the Strictly Sail Boat Shows in Chicago, Miami and Oakland. The two-day workshops will train attendees to plan safe offshore passages that take best advantage of the weather. Topics will include causes and effects of marine weather; surface weather patterns; ocean wave formation, propagation and decay; tropical cyclone basics and avoidance; Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) wind and weather charts; OPC surface charts and 500-millibar charts. Lee Chesneau, OPC senior marine meteorologist and regular Safety-at-Sea and SSCA marine weather instructor, will conduct the workshops. The workshop fee is $250 for SSCA members and $300 for all others. Cost includes a 250-page workbook; class size is limited to 24. For more information or to register visit the Events & Calendar page on the SSCA website, www.ssca.org, call 954-771-5660 or e-mail office@ssca.org.
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 287
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 09:18 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings folks, thought this might be of interest to those weather geeks out there (and you know who you are :-) )

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/marob.htm
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 202
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - 08:25 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings All, From Linda and Steve Dashew's setsail.com site. Discussion of what weather sources the authors use. This one is from George Backhus.

October 11, 2004
Weather Sources

The first and most important source of weather information to me is my calendar. The southern tropical cyclone season is officially from the beginning of November to the end of April. The northern tropical hurricane season is the flip-side of the year. Simply put, if you are in areas prone to cyclones/hurricanes, it's best to avoid the high-risk times of the year. Look at the calendar and head north or south as the case may be, to avoid that hurricane, or in the case of the Caribbean this year, those THREE hurricanes!

That said, even when we are cruising on the right side of the calendar, it always important to be aware of weather systems that may affect our travel plans, comfort and safety.

Over the years, I've found that in a given cruising area, there are usually numerous good sources of weather information, although they tend to vary from area to area.

On the west coast of Mexico, for example, when I was cruising there in the late '90's, our best and most reliable source of weather was a Ham broadcast called the Chubasco Net. A guy named Tom gathered weather information from various sources each day and then talked to the cruisers on a ham rig from his car while commuting to work in Southern California. He was usually spot-on in an area that was often devoid of good weather information.

The Internet has made a large body of weather information available to sailors almost anywhere on the planet. The equipment necessary to download GRIB files, buoy reports and weather fax has come into reach of most cruisers. This information is invaluable for passage planning and severe weather avoidance. All this, combined with local and regional broadcasts (when available) can give the sailor a pretty good picture of the situation.

Wx Sources While Planning

Generally speaking, when I'm planning a passage I do the following:

1. Consult pilot charts and Jimmy Cornell's "World Cruising Routes" to determine the best time of the year to make the desired passage.

2. Turn on the weather fax a couple of weeks in advance to gain an understanding of the timing and movement of the local weather patterns. I tune into local fax broadcasts as well as ones well west of the area I'm in. In the South Pacific, for example, I look at maps from both Wellington, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia to see what's coming across the Tasman Sea from Oz.

3. Turn on the Sky Eye and compare the satellite photos to the weather faxes. Faxes are just educated guesses of weather systems, but the camera doesn't lie.

4. I talk to local sailors to learn from their experiences. In New Zealand, for example, I learned to leave just after a frontal passage on a southwesterly change. This strategy can usually get you up to the trade wind belt before the next system hits.

5. If possible, I use the services of a local weather router, like New Zealand Met Service's Bob McDavitt for the South Pacific region. I find this is usually money (NZ$60) well spent, and there's usually a group of cruisers willing to share the cost.

6. I download GRIB files for the passage area to see what the predicted winds will be along our course line and adjust my route accordingly to take advantage of the yacht's best point of sail and wind shifts.

7. I listen in to the local VHF/SSB/Ham/AM/FM radio weather broadcasts.

8. Personal observation: sky, wind direction/speed and barometer.

9. When I'm on passage, I update the information as often as possible from all available sources and adjust the route plan accordingly. In the South Pacific, I usually check in daily with Des on Russell Radio to get his read on the weather along my route and to listen to what other passage makers in the vicinity are experiencing.

Wx Sources While Cruising

Once I've reached my destined cruising ground, I do the following:

1. Check the cruising guides for the best local sources of weather information. There are usually some combination of local VHF, SSB/Ham, AM/FM, TV broadcasts available. Here in Australia, the local Coast Guard stations broadcast good weather information to mariners regularly on VHF and SSB.

2. Ask the locals for the best sources of weather information.

3. Tune in to the local cruiser's nets and listen to any weather information offered.

4. Evaluate all the sources to see who gets it right most often.

5. Keep the weather fax on and watch the weather patterns.

6. Keep an eye on the sky, wind direction/speed and barometer.

7. Move with the favorable weather patterns.
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 185
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Friday, June 18, 2004 - 12:28 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Great article on NOAA weather data bouys from Ocean Magazine:

http://www.oceannavigator.com/site/csrv/content.asp?id=7484

 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 169
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 08:59 am:   Edit Post Print Post

NOAA has moved the Radio Facsimile User's Guide again. The current location is:

http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/UsersGuide/UG.pdf
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 130
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 06, 2004 - 11:38 am:   Edit Post Print Post

An interesting online weather course:

http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/home.rxml
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 78
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 02:49 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings All, one item that didn't make it into the resources post (its orginal location had moved and I had to find the new one) that is particularly valuable is the NOAA's Marine Radiofacsimile User's Guide, which describes the function and use of the various synoptic charts available via internet or HF Radiofacsimile.

http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/UGbegin.html
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 77
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 02:38 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings All, NOAA's Offshore and High Seas Marine Weather Services Guide. A great introduction to marine weather topics.
application/pdfOffshore and High Seas Marine Weather Services Guide
Offshore and High Seas Marine Weather Services Guide.pdf (77.8 k)
 

Ted Lavino
Senior Member
Username: Tlavino

Post Number: 58
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 10:46 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greetings All, a post that was originally in the 214 Skipper's section. Enjoy!

Greetings All, the following are some excellent resources to assist you in your weather planning:

NOAA Marine Weather Portal:
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm

NOAA Marine Services Program Portal
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/marine.shtml

NOAA Marine Text Forecasts:
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/forecast.htm

NOAA Marine Text Forecasts (graphic interface)
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/zone/usamz.htm

NOAA Radio Facsimile Charts
http://weather.noaa.gov/fax/marine.shtml

NOAA Satellite Imagery
http://www.goes.noaa.gov/

NOAA Satellite Imagery-West Coast Portal
http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/west/weus.html

NOAA Satellite Imagery (Color)
http://www.goes.noaa.gov/enhanced.html

Coastal Weather Resources:

NOAA Bouy Reports
http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/

NOAA Tides and Currents Online
http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/

NOAA Weather Radio Information
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/wxradio.htm

NOAA Weather Information via Internet Portal
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/internet.htm

NOAA Marine Weather Services Charts:
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/pub.htm

NOAA Weather Coastal Forecasts and Storm Warnings via Voice through the USCG on VHF
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/vhfvoice.htm

NOAA Weather Forecasts via recorded telephone:
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/noaatel.htm

High Seas Weather Resources:

Information re: receiving weather info via HF radio:
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/radiofax.htm

NOAA Weather Highseas Forecasts and Storm warnings via Voice on HF
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfvoice.htm

NWS Hourly Voice Broadcasts of Current High Seas Storm Warnings for the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico Via NIST Time Service on HF (WWV, etc.)
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/wwv.htm
http://www.bldrdoc.gov/timefreq/index.html

NOAA Weather Highseas Forecasts and Storm warnings via SITOR on HF
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/hfsitor.htm

NOAA Weather High Seas Forecasts and Storm Warnings via NAVTEX on HF
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/navtex.htm

Amateur Service HF Weather Nets
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/ham.htm

Worldwide Marine Weather Radiofacimile Broadcast Schedules:
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/rfax.pdf

Of the bunch I find the facsimile charts and bouy reports to be most useful. Don't forget to keep a copy of the applicable Marine Weather Services Chart onboard for reference...

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