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

NOAA color satellite image

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


The following post was published on March 8, 2018 on

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.

72 hr forecast

NOAA OPC New 72 hour Surface Forecast Chart

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. 

See also:
URGENT “Notice to Mariners” – Changes to NOAA marine products effective March 7th, 2018


About Fred Pickhardt

I am a marine meteorologist and sailed briefly with American Export Lines in the Far East trade after graduating from State University of New York Maritime College. I have extensive experience in weather analysis, weather forecasting, optimum ship routing, vessel performance evaluations and forensic weather event reconstructions. I founded Ocean Weather Services and as Owner and Chief Consultant currently provide optimum ship routing services and forensic marine weather reports to the maritime industry.
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One Response to NOAA’s New Marine Forecast Product Improves Weather Forecasts and Safety at Sea

  1. Lee Chesneau says:

    The posting by OPC Director Tom Cuff (Captain, USN Retired) is likely in response to my Ocean Weather posting last week (also picked up by gCaptain), where I challenged the changes made to OPC products and services for a variety of compelling reasons.

    First and foremost, the NWS of which the OPC is a major national center , is not supposed to change its products unless it is equal to or better than what it is being replaced with. OPC has downgraded major products (500 mb and surface pressure charts) without proper notification, vetting, feedback, and consensus solutions.

    Secondly, notification of OPC’s major changes to its products has not been done through more universal communications portals, such as “Notice to Mariners” advised ahead of time, and those that knew about it, legitimate feedback was ignored. The stakeholders are left to react and those not cognizant enough of the products (such as STCW Basic Advanced Meteorology course) are not going to be in a position to comments as well as those who have. More comments will be forthcoming in a rebuttal blog to the NOAA response on Friday, March 9th to my original blog post on March 7th.

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