NOAA weather

See a lot of talk about vhf radios being needed for weather reports. I have 1 handheld; and 2 base models on my sailboat in New London Ct… Once again this weekend NOAA’s report was quite wrong. The “perfect storm” movie came about because of NOAA screwing up. Their marine reports in the Ct., R.I., N.Y. area are generally quite wrong. How are their forecasts in your area? I find reading the clouds and wind patterns, radar if available, a heck of a lot more accurate.

Well, they were way off for Western NY
more precisely the Niagara Frontier region…

But then again the steller weather teams on local abc/cbs/nbc (aka curly larry and moe)were even farther off.

This is a sorespot for many inshore boaters, in NJ. Check the weather, but keep your eyes open.

The offshore guys pay for sattelite services, and read the weather themselves and make their own interpretations. Lots of $$ wasted, if you have to turn back.

generally quite wrong … ?
To become a certified weather forecaster for the NWS one needs to be correct 90% of the time.

Are you suggesting that once a weatherman gets certified they stop caring or trying and they are wrong more often than not?

I fail to see how they can be “generally wrong” when the agency’s minimum goal is to be correct at least 90% of the time (on the East Coast as it’s only 50% west of the continental divide due to the lack of hard data from the west).

no, they’re not wrong
People don’t understand the forecast. NOAA is not Al Roker, with smiley faces and remotes from strwberry festival.

The Closer To Day Of Question
the more accurate the forecast. I always check before heading out and find it generally on. What makes it more “on” is knowing how weather patterns interact with the local features of where one’s at. No forecaster is going to get that specific. The individual user has to add on his/her own knowledge of local features and how they interact with the forecasted weather pattern.


add on his/her own knowledge of local…
We use NOAA everyday while on the coast of Maine and find it VERY useful.

As sing notes it is most accurate closest to the time and when combined with our ‘local knowledge’ and watching the skies we find it very accurate.

We also use NOAA when paddling on Champlain.

Isn’t NOAA the source of all data …
… that the local talking head weather folks use to then make their own versions of the local forecast?

NOAA verbiage does seem to have an automated feel to it … and it can change frequently … my impression is that there’s not a lot of human touch to it. And a good\skilled local TV weather guy\gal can make some interpretations to come up with a smoother forecast for a 24 - 48 hour period.

But overall I trust NOAA more than The Weather Channel local forecast, and if you check it frequently (when outdoor activity requires accuracy), it’s more usefull & accurate than the TV weather. I’m in Eastern Mass…

We have a baby boy
due at the end of August. The frontrunner name? Noah, spelled “Noaa”. :^)

“Frequently changing reports” is a good thing: it reflects changes in the conditions. Of course it sounds automated–it is! That’s just the reporter, though. I’m guessing the report itself is fed in by a human. I’m not old enough to remember the day when it was read by an actual person, but I bet it was a real drag.

VHF & NOAA are particularly good for establishing trends. Then you have to open your eyes & look at the sky the night before and that day. In my experience in the NW & Midwest, it’s usually dead on.

wrong in what way?
What is their common error? Wind speed? Wave height? Wind direction? Broad scale forecasts don’t account for local conditions. Topography will affect local wind. Bathymetry and currents will affect waves.

I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay with a nearly religious connection the the NOAA button on our VHF. Only once did they completely blow it with a forecast of SW at 10-15 when it blew due north at 15-20 all day. Even with reports coming from the south island of the CBBT of NE 15-20, the automated forecast was calling for SW at 10-15. It was a rare mid-July “backdoor” cold front that totally fooled the models. That was an ugly day on the Bay in an 18’ boat but we did get a 78lb cobia that day.

Most of the time the forecast on the day of or day before was accurate enough with the wind direction and within 5kts on speed. The only regular blunder was under-estimating the magnitude of the seabreeze in the late spring when the water was really cold relative to the land on a hot day. A little local knowledge takes care of that. One does need to know how to interpret how the broader forecast will manifest locally. SW at 10-15 on the Gulf Stream is a nice day. NE at 10-15 on the Gulf Stream is a rough day with the wind opposing the current. Wave height forecast will be similar for both days but an experienced captain will know what to expect out there.

Biggest complaint I heard (still hear, back home and here in FL) on the regular basis was boaters claiming that NOAA had undercalled the wind and waves. I had the same complaint for a long time. NOAA called for 1-2’ and I would swear that it was really 2-3’. Then I learned that in reality I and everybody else was chronically overestimating the wind speed and sea state. Small boats will do that too you.

Oh contrair, my Bohemian friend.
It was only a 2 years ago that I stopped broadcasting the marine weather on VHF. I loved it! Even today, that is how I teach the new kids. I have them read a marine weather broadcast and read it as if someone is on the other end of the radio writing it down word for word.

As far as NOAA/NWS, their work is pretty cool and so are they. I spent several years in Alaska co-located with them and got to see how they gather information, take measurements, etc. Calling people up and down the remote Alaskan coast on the radio to get their local conditions was a blast. Got to work with a lot of good folks.

In N.IL…NOAA is usually about
15-30 min behind the actual weather. They seem to be getting a little better. I watch the sky and other weather signs, look at the radar and discussion, listen to the forecast and then move everything up about a 1/2 hour during major storms. I’m also a trained spotter, so this helps.

We can see 30 miles to the horizon from our farm and our ‘weather eye’ combined with storm speed and direction and barometric info from NOAA gives us what we need. I would miss them, but don’t rely solely on them.

my friend tena
she’s a weather hound. she looks at maps for patterns and computer models from and to do her own forecasts. she’s good! our weather can be very local because of sea breezes. we can be facing 10-12 kn from the ocean while the sailing club 3 miles away has 3-5 kn. the local forecast said 5-10kn. so they were right, on average…

yes to most of the above. Yesterday was winds out of the west 10-15, it was west at solid 20, gusts to 25. The good side was the thunderstorms and 1-3 mi. vis.forecast,actual was bright blue sky and Block Island, 13 miles off the coast, was very visible. Generally they are polar opposites re: wind speed. They forecast local areas for marine conditions, and long island sound generates the most, nearly 100% imho, error.

Why is the forecast wrong?
I have been forecasting marine weather for Atlantic Canada for the past 22 years. After so many years you develop a thick skin for criticism. But the fact is that most of the criticisms are unfounded. I have had lots of time to think about this and there are several reasons why the forecasts are perceived to be “always wrong” such as…

  1. You remember the bust forecasts. Most of the criticism I receive is from individuals who do not keep any verification on forecasts. Industries who rely on forecasts day to day such as airlines, forestry, agriculture, and fishermen usually rave about the value of service provided.

  2. The forecast is misinterpreted. Marine wind forecasts are for open water. The kayaker who rarely strays more than a kilometer from shore deals with coastal effects. It is not practical to include the coastal effects in the forecast, and I would advise any small boater to learn how the coast can effect winds (and other weather elements). I have done one-day workshops for a local Power and Sail Squadron on this subject.

  3. The forecast is not heard correctly. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone talk about rain expected for Halifax only to figure out later that they were listening to the forecast for another part of the province. Their attention was grabbed by the word “rain” and that was all.

    I could continue but I just want to make a point.

Remember the “old days”?
When I was growing up in Pgh PA in the '50s, each night the Esso Weather Forcast was shown on KDKA TV.

All these years later I remember that the forecast was often wrong for the following day. Not a very good record. I do believe the accuracy has improved to the point that the 3-day forecasts are better than the 1-day forecasts of 50 years ago. Not 100% accurate, but these are FORECASTS!

All in all, I think that NOAA is doing an admirable job.


I think NOAA weather reporting is outstanding. That’s been my experience in Alaska, BC, and PNW as a paddler and captain. You’re talking to sea kayakers here…

in Watch Hill, the forecast called for rain in the a.m(chance), then (chance) thunderstorms in the afternoon. The way the boats bailed out in the morning, I’m sure a lot were monitoring the radio. Tide and wind were both against me, so I went body surfing while waiting for the tide to change. Everyone left except for the 9 of us on a beach that had about 4000 the day before. Sun came out, clouds disappeared, and it was a beautiful day. NOAA still was advising “1-3 mi. vis, fog, thunderstorms.” Quite often they forecast “small-craft advisories” when its blowing 5-10 knots, and I am in their area at the time they’re forecasting. Or they’ll give 10-15 and there’s no wind. I think Long Island Sound area must be tricky for noaa.

Noaa works for me! and agree with

– Last Updated: Aug-21-06 3:16 PM EST –

Sing and Wilson. the most recent forecast and the Noaa forecast for Boston and a bit of local knowledge (usually from my buds) and I have never been greatly surprised. Maine is more of a challenge and the local knowledge is crucial there.

Also why do you claim that Noaa messed up the "perfect storm" prediction? Seems to be quite the opposite.

Some areas are trickier than others
got THAT right!