The National Weather Service's Marine, Tropical, and Tsunami Services Branch (W/AFS26) is responsible
for oversight of the Marine, Tropical, and Tsunami Services Programs. The programs provide current, accurate
information relating to the U.S. coast, coastal and offshore waters, the Great
Lakes, and the open oceans. This information aims to:
- Ensure the safety of life and protection of property
- Promote international and interstate commerce by improving
the efficiency of marine operations
- Mitigate environmental impacts
- Enhance the quality of life for the United States
Transport by water is generally the most economical
and efficient means to move goods. Helping marine traffic avoid
hazardous weather benefits Americans by keeping costs down, thus
making products more affordable. More than 90 percent of the goods
imported into the United States arrive via the oceans. Maritime
commerce results in a contribution of $78.6 billion annually and
generates nearly 16 million jobs. One out of six jobs in the U.S.
is marine related. Further, over 77 million Americans enjoy recreational
boating, an industry that generates nearly $18 billion annually
in sales of boats and related materials.*
Death from rip currents, hurricanes and associated flooding represent a major share of U.S. weather-related fatalities. According to the CDC, severe weather conditions contributed to 148 (61%) of the fatal disasters aboard fishing vessels for the period 2000-2010.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the coastline of the United States and its territories extends for 19,924 km (10,758 nautical miles, 12,380 statute miles)
Coastal areas in the U.S. are home to a wealth of natural and economic
resources and include some of the most developed areas in the nation.
The narrow coastal fringe that makes up 17 percent of the nation's contiguous land area is home to more than half of its population. In 2010, 123.3 million people, or 39 percent of the nation’s population lived in Coastal Shoreline Counties.**
Using the weather analyses and forecast guidance provided
by NCEP, along with radar, satellite, and in-situ observational
data, NWS marine weather forecasters issue wind, sea state, and
significant weather warnings, forecasts, and weather statements.
These are essential to the conduct of safe and efficient maritime
operations and for the protection of the marine public.
The collection of weather observations is vital to
accurate weather forecasting, and especially so over the waters
where weather stations are few and far between. Thousands of vessels
worldwide are Volunteer
Observing Ships (VOS), sending observations every few hours
which are used by marine forecasters and computer modelers to improve
the accuracy of the forecasts. The National
Data Buoy Center (NDBC) maintains 103 buoys and 47 fixed C-MAN stations in the
oceans and the Great Lakes.
Marine forecasts are also issued as needed to aid
in search and rescue operations, the containment and cleanup of
oil spills or support to other disasters such as plane crash recovery
The NWS operates two Tsunami Warning Centers that are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help protect life and property from tsunamis.
These centers monitor for tsunamis and the earthquakes that cause them, forecast tsunami impacts, and prepare and issue tsunami messages. The National Tsunami Warning Center in Alaska provides tsunami messages for the continental United States, Alaska and Canada. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii provides tsunami messages for the Hawaiian Islands, the U.S. Pacific and Caribbean territories, and the British Virgin Islands and provides forecast information to international partners in the Pacific and Caribbean and adjacent regions to help them understand the threat to their coasts so they can decide whether or not to issue alerts. NDBC also maintains and provides data from the U.S. network of Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami systems
and provides data from the National Ocean Service’s tsunami-capable coastal water-level stations.
The National Weather Service also hosts and staffs the International Tsunami Information Center, operates the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program, and administers the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.
Year of the Ocean Discussion Papers, Office of the Chief
Scientist, NOAA, 1998.
**Source: National Coastal Population Report
National NWS Marine Forecasts Page:
- Marine Forecasts
Forecasts, warnings, observations, maps, pubs, broadcast info, contacts, etc.
High Seas Forecasts and Warnings:
Offshore Forecasts and Warnings:
Coastal and Great Lakes Forecasts and Warnings:
Model Guidance and Products
Hurricane Forecasts and Warnings:
Tsunami Warnings and Information:
Warning and Forecast Area Maps:
Explanation of Codes Used in Various Marine Text Forecasts and Weather Broadcasts:
This and That: