New NOAA site offers real-time forecasts

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NowCOAST is billed as ‘one-stop shopping’ for weather and oceanographic information

NowCOAST is billed as ‘one-stop shopping’ for weather and oceanographic information

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched a Web portal offering online, real-time weather and water observations and NOAA forecasts for major U.S. estuaries and seaports, coastal regions and the Great Lakes.

NowCOAST (nowcoast.noaa.gov) provides links to information from meteorological, oceanographic, river and water-quality observing networks operated by federal and state agencies and educational institutions. National Weather Service forecast models, and weather and marine forecasts also are available.

The portal was designed by NOAA’s National Ocean Service Coast Survey Development Laboratory as an easy-to-access source for online weather information. Federal officials say it allows users to access numerous Web pages from one site — “one-stop shopping to current conditions and forecasts in the coastal states.”

In addition to improving maritime safety, officials say nowCOAST could be used for coastal monitoring and hazard assessment. “NowCOAST is a valuable tool for safety and commerce, providing easily accessible and up-to-date information for everyone,” says Richard Spinrad, National Ocean Service assistant administrator, in a statement.

NowCOAST is custom designed to allow users to choose observations or forecasts for their areas, and allows users to see as much or as little of the data as they choose. Four pull-down menus allow users to specify location, type of observation and variable. Users also can zoom in and out to change map scale, pan to specific locations, and overlay different data sets for comparison purposes.

Future plans call for graphical weather forecasts. The Continuous Operational Real-Time Monitoring System of the National Ocean Service’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services will monitor the portal to ensure that Web links are current and that the system is operational.