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NOAA>NWS>NCEP>OPC>About Us>Mission Statement

Vision & Mission Statement

The OPC strives to be recognized as the mariner's weather lifeline through exceptional products and customer service.

The Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) is an integral component of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) located at the NOAA Science Center in Camp Springs, MD. The primary responsibility is the issuance of marine warnings, forecasts, and guidance in text and graphical format for maritime users. Also, the OPC quality controls marine observations globally from ship, buoy, and automated marine observations for gross errors prior to being assimilated into computer model guidance. The Ocean Prediction Center also provides forecast points in coordination with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) for Tropical Cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean E of 60W and N of 20N.

OPC originates and issues marine warnings and forecasts, continually monitors and analyzes maritime data, and provides guidance of marine atmospheric variables for purposes of protection of life and property, safety at sea, and enhancement of economic opportunity. These products fulfill U.S. responsibilities with the World Meteorological Organization and Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) [International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960 and 1974].

In emergency situations OPC acts as a backup to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Honolulu National Weather Service Office taking over the marine functions. The Offices also act as backups to the OPC marine functions.

  1. Areal extent: Region of coverage is the over marine areas of the Northern Hemisphere S of 67N to 15 degrees S (except Indian Ocean).

  2. Temporal extent: Guidance and forecasts are issued for time periods where useful skill exists out to 96 hours for seas and 120 hours for weather systems.

  3. Application activities: Conducted to support the civilian maritime community and other government agencies in support of safety of life at sea , ie. U.S. Coast Guard.

  4. Product suite: Support for transoceanic, fishing, and recreational marine users, coastal communities, marine navigation, and other marine interests.

  5. Product distribution: Direct support for all national and international marine users. MPC produces principal guidance for National Weather Forecast Offices with offshore and coastal responsibilities, and other marine related programs.

Both graphical and text products are disseminated covering these geographical regions: synoptic scale coverage over the entire North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, and mesoscale coverage for the coastal and offshore portions of the eastern and western United States.

Radiofacsimile Schedule

In addition to being available online through the Ocean Prediction Center homepage, the graphical products described below are transmitted directly to vessels at sea and the public along coastal areas via High Frequency (HF) short-wave radiofacsimile through transmitters of the U.S. Coast Guard at Marshfield, MA, and Point Reyes, CA. The Coast Guard transmits these products at scheduled times throughout the day.

Short wave Radio Broadcast

Also, a brief version of the High Seas Forecast (HSF), which covers the North Pacific Ocean E of 140W and North Atlantic W of 35W is broadcast via High Frequency (HF) short-wave radio station, WWV in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Atlantic forecast is broadcast in two parts at HH+08 and HH+09 minutes. The Pacific forecast is broadcast at HH+10 minutes. These warnings and forecasts are updated every six hours at 0500 UTC, 1100 UTC, 1700 UTC, and 2300 UTC. WWV transmits on 2.5 MHz, 5.0 MHz, 10.0 MHz, 15.0 MHz, and 20.0 MHz continuously 24 hours a day. In addition WWV marine broadcasts can be heard at these times at (303) 499-7111.

A typical warning text format is as follows:

North Pacific Weather east of 140W at 1800 UTC October 11 1995

...Warning forecasts....
By 24 hours Gale 56N 138W moving NE 25 knots with winds to 40 knots seas to 24 feet within 900 nautical miles south and southeast quadrants.

...Other forecasts....
Low 39N 127W moving ENE 25 knots. Winds to 30 knots seas to 14 feet within 480 nautical miles south semicircle.
End Of Message.

Graphical Products

Two types of graphical products are disseminated. The analysis and forecasts of upper level large synoptic scale flow are based on a computer objective scheme. The surface analysis and forecast charts are produced from a blend of objective and subjective means as determined by a marine forecaster. Times indicated on the charts are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). There are two major categories of charts broadcast.

  1. Surface

    These manually produced charts depict surface features and forecast positions, and define present and future wind and wave conditions.

  2. Upper Air

    These are depictions of the computer model analyses and forecasts of ridges and troughs for the 500 mb constant pressure surfaces.

Text Products

The High Seas Forecast (HSF), which covers the North Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific Oceans is issued four times per day. The text describes initial synoptic scale conditions. The forecast describes conditions of winds/seas associated with significant weather features of concern to Mariners out to 36 hours. It can include areas of dense fog and structural icing.

Also, two Offshore forecast products are issued which describe current and forecast features for the offshore waters of the Western and Eastern US coasts.  The Marine Weather Discussion (MWD) based on the current weather conditions and forecast model guidance are issued four times a day, and describe latest weather conditions forecast reasoning for the offshore forecast waters and adjacent areas for the next  5 days.


NOAA/ National Weather Service
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction (NCWCP)
Ocean Prediction Center
Mr. Darin Figurskey
Chief, Ocean Forecast Branch
5830 University Research Court
College Park, Maryland 20740-3818

Phone: 301-683-1520
Fax: 301-683-1501 (SDM), 301-683-1545 (back office-administrative)

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Page last modified:  Friday, October 21, 2016 17:36:00 UTC