Users accessing NowCOAST's web tools, pictured in this screenshot, can select locations, map layers (type of imagery, forecasts, etc.), and different variables depending on the type of information requested.
To safely transit marine highways that get busier with each passing year, mariners need the most accurate and up-to-date information they can find. Increasingly, they are finding that information on the nowCOAST Web site. nowCOAST, a map-based online gateway to ocean and weather observations and forecasts, is freely available to mariners, coastal planners, and the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
We depend on our waterways to transport goods, services, and people—more than 98 percent of cargo shipped to and from the U.S. goes by water. The oceans are seeing growing pressures from non-trade uses as well: offshore engineering, alternative energy, naval operations, commercial fisheries, and recreational boating are some of the uses that are sharing increasingly crowded space on America’s coast.
Weather and sea conditions are a major concern to marine navigators and others, particularly since conditions vary significantly from place to place and can change quickly and dramatically. Designed as a marine spatial planning aid for recreational and commercial mariners, coastal managers, and HAZMAT responders, the nowCOAST Web portal provides real-time information for specific locations.
Updated at regular intervals throughout the day, nowCOAST displays near real-time weather and ocean surface observations directly on an interactive map. The site allows “one-stop” access to current conditions, including information such as air and water temperature, wind speed, visibility, precipitation, and wave height. The site displays the National Weather Service’s National Digital Forecast Database gridded forecasts of wind speed, significant wave height, relative humidity, precipitation, and air temperatures. Site visitors can view Doppler weather radar, cloud imagery, and weather warnings. Users can also link to ocean, river, water quality, and weather data collected by other organizations.
NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which develops and manages the site, is regularly expanding the capabilities and flexibilities of nowCOAST. They most recently released a new version that displays the latest forecasts for all active tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and eastern Pacific Ocean.
In July, nowCOAST received a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award at the 2009 ESRI International User Conference.
According to ESRI, the National Ocean Service received the honor “for its vision, leadership, and innovative use of ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) technology.”
The agency was selected from more than 300,000 organizations worldwide and recognized “for making extraordinary contributions to our global society.”