Vision & Mission Statement
The OPC strives to be recognized as the mariner's
weather lifeline through exceptional products and customer
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.
Areal extent: Region of coverage is the over
marine areas of the Northern Hemisphere S of 67N to 15 degrees S
(except Indian Ocean).
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.
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.
Product suite: Support for transoceanic,
fishing, and recreational marine users, coastal communities, marine
navigation, and other marine interests.
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
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.
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
North Pacific Weather east of 140W at 1800
UTC October 11 1995
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
Low 39N 127W moving ENE 25 knots. Winds to 30 knots seas to 14 feet
within 480 nautical miles south semicircle.
End Of Message.
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.
These manually produced charts depict surface
features and forecast positions, and define present and future wind
and wave conditions.
These are depictions of the computer model analyses
and forecasts of ridges and troughs for the 500 mb constant
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