What Is The National Weather Service Looking For?


Marine Observation Platforms on the Great Lakes continue to expand on a daily basis, not only from the National Weather Service, but many of our Partners as well.  However, Lake Erie covers an area of nearly 10,000 square miles with a shoreline of nearly 900 miles. Lake Ontario covers nearly 8,000 square miles with a shoreline nearly 800 miles long.  It is obvious that no observation network could completely monitor the conditions over such large areas.

As all mariners know, conditions on these massive inland seas can change in an instant. That is why our marine spotters are such a valuable source for weather information.

If conditions in your area do not match the latest forecast, it's time to give us a call.  That information will be used to update forecasts if necessary and may even be relayed on our NOAA Weather Radio as an hourly update from our spotter network.

All we ask is that you do not tie up the telephone lines with information that may not be of any value. If we have Small Craft Advisories out for 25 knot winds and 6 foot seas and you are getting knocked around in those conditions, we do not need a call.  Our goal is to improve our services to the marine community, so your call must also provide information to improve those services.  The next paragraph will detail what we are looking for:    

Location Reckoning is easiest:  eg. I am 6 miles offshore of Dunkirk
Lat/Lon:  eg. I am at  42.74 N 79.35 W  near Pt. Colborne
Weather If we don't have it covered in the forecast, call it in. 
eg. heavy rain now, forecast only had cloudy conditions.
Visibility Fog is a real problem on the lakes, especially when warm air moves over the cool water.  It can be very localized and can occur in between our observation sites. It should always be reported.  Try to use units of fractions of a mile or yards. 
Wind Direction Usually not too critical except for the sailing community.  Local winds on the lakes are very difficult to predict.  Therefore, it is valuable for us to know if  lake breezes may have "kicked in" during hot summer days. However, we cannot cover all of the conditions that occur locally.   
Wind Speed This is critical information and if the forecast does not adequately cover wind conditions, we must know. 
Wave Heights Another critical piece of information.  Human observations often overestimate wave height, so if you have a chance, go to the link from the main page to learn more about the term "Significant Wave Height".

National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office Buffalo
587 Aero Drive
Buffalo, N.Y. 14225-1405
(716) 565-0204 or (716) 565-0802

Page last modified: June 13, 2006 at 1:25:00 AM
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