VOS Ship Resource Page
Instructions for sending weather observations using Standard C and Code 41 (no charge to
JRC (Japan Radio Company) Software
Thrane and Thrane Software
Observations Via Email
Frequently Asked Questions
Click a question to view the answer.
I have a 20’ fishing boat, can I join the VOS program?
The VOS program is designed for large ocean and Great Lake going vessels, but do not lose heart, there is a way you can participate. NOAA also has a program targeted at ships that generally operate in the U.S. coastal zones, called the MAROB
program. Click on the word MAROB
to learn more about this program.
I am a tugboat operator and frequently travel from Seattle to Los Angeles. Do you want observations from my vessel?
Yes we do! Tugs can provide a wealth of information that is vital to coastal zone forecasters. Not only is the data important in developing a forecast, it is also vital in the quality assurance and accuracy of forecasts that have been issued. If you are interested in joining the VOS program please contact your nearest U.S. Port Meteorological Officers (PMO)
, or the VOS Management Team
. Even if you are not in the VOS program and are experiencing conditions different than those forecast, you should attempt to contact the generating forecasting center
and give them feedback. They will glean lots of value from your feedback!
I heard that if I join the VOS program I won’t have to send the AMVER
update anymore. Is this true?
Yes, and No. The requirement for a Sail Plan, Deviation Report and Arrival Notice is unaffected, however if your vessel takes weather observations consistently (at least once a day @ 12Z) you are not required to submit the AMVER Update (the AMVER update is a position report to be accomplished a minimum of once every 48 hrs). The VOS program and AMVER have reached an agreement in which the ships position is pulled by the observation database computers and forwarded to the USCG AMVER section. If you take the weather observations every 6 hours (as requested) the USCG will have a far greater detail of your location than by the update alone. It is a win-win for all of us. One less report for the ship to complete, more weather observations (= better forecasts), and more accurate location information for the USCG.
Is INMARSAT “C” the only way we can transmit weather observations?
No, in addition to the Code 41, ships can opt to send observations via e-mail. The procedures can be found at the bottom of this page. If you chose to use this method you will be responsible for the costs incurred.
How much does it cost to join? How much does it cost per observation?
It costs the participant nothing to join the program, and (once a ship has proven to be a consistent performer) weather equipment loans are often made. The PMO will provide participants with supplies and equipment calibration/repair as needed. The only instance in which a participant may be asked to pay anything would be when they chose to transmit their observations via e-mail or loaned equipment is lost or damaged.
Who has access to my observations? How are they used?
At this time shipboard weather observations are accessible to the public. Efforts are underway to limit access at the request of many shipping companies in the interest of security of the vessels.
The information contained in the observation is feed to the supercomputers at NOAA. These computers create an analysis of current weather conditions at 00Z and 12Z. This information is crucial to an accurate forecast. If you do not have a good idea of what is happening today, how can you expect to make an accurate forecast of what is to come 48 to 96 hours from now?
Learn More About:
Features a PPS slideshow that discusses a variety of information about tropical cyclones, including their structure, formation, phases of development (TD, TS, HURR etc), seasons, computer forecasting aids/models, and underway avoidance practices.
High Latitude Ship Operations
A PPS slideshow related to the unique circumstances of operating in Polar Regions. Discusses such topics as Ice cover/Ice zones, Sea Ice formation and growth, types of sea ice (pictorial), Icebergs, including types, distribution, and dangers. Also discusses other phenomena including flaws and leads, ice blink, wind effects, fog, precipitation etc. In depth discussion about ice accretion causes, dangers and ways to avoid or mitigate the effects
Get an introduction to the VOS program and weather basics. Learn why ship observations remain an important source of oceanic weather data, and about other oceanic weather data sources, their strengths and weaknesses. Contains a thorough lesson in observation encoding, including tons of tips and tricks to make observing easier.
The North Wall
Understand the mystery of large, steep waves often encountered in the Gulf Stream in winter. The principles discussed can be applied to the Agulhus and Kuroshio currents as well.
Marine Weather Charts
Learn the basics of weather chart interpretation. Understand the significance and importance of the 500 MB, Surface, and Sea Height analysis and forecast charts (with plenty of example products). Also features examples of satellite imagery, ice charts, regional products and surface chart symbols.
Tools and Links for the Mariner:
Marine Radiofax Charts
FTPmail for fax charts: Get NOAA fax charts through the e-mail. Send an e-mail request and receive the charts as a reply to your request (no additional cost).
Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) automated e-mail updates: Sign up with one e-mail and automatically receive the latest warnings and advisories via e-mail (no cost).
Dial-a-buoy: Use a cell phone or sat phone to get information from any of hundreds of weather buoys. See what conditions look like ahead of you, before you get there.
Fax schedules: NOAA fax schedules
JMH fax schedule
- Atlantic - Boston
- Gulf of Mexico - New Orleans
- Eastern Pacific - Pt. Reyes
- Central Pacific - Hawaii
PORTS webpage: a program of the National Ocean Service that supports safe and cost-efficient navigation by providing ship masters and pilots with accurate real-time information required to avoid groundings and collisions.
CHANGES TO NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BROADCAST SCHEDULES: Broadcasts of National Weather Service marine forecasts from the following U.S. Coast Guard and military facilities will be modified on June 15, 2005 at 1400 UTC (1733 UTC for KVM70) to accommodate a greater range of products and reduce mutual interference between stations:
International Ice Patrol Charts
U.S. Coast Guard Communications Center: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/
U.S. Coast Guard Storm Center: http://www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/
AMVER Program Homepage