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NOAA Adds Wave, Visibility Data to PORTS® Navigational Data System

tanker in very rough seas

New observations will assist mariners to transit safely, even in the most adverse conditions.

NOAA recently announced two significant additions—waves and visibility—to its suite of observations available through the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) program. These new data are available at five of the nation’s twenty heavy-traffic regions where PORTS is available.

two scientists working on wave buoy

NOAA is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to integrate data from their wave buoys into PORTS.

Accurate, real-time oceanographic and meteorological data made available by PORTS is essential for moving goods, services, and people throughout the 25,000 miles (40,233 km) of waterways, ports, and other navigable waters of the U.S. marine transportation system.

New wave and visibility data will enhance the existing suite of PORTS parameters, which includes real-time observations of water levels, currents, salinity, wind, atmospheric pressure, air and water temperatures, and air gap (bridge clearance).

Wave information is being delivered through four PORTS regions in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and real-time data observations from buoys operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  The new stations with wave data available are San Francisco Bar, Calif.  (San Francisco Bay PORTS), San Pedro, Calif. (Los Angeles/Long Beach PORTS), Clatsop Spit, Ore. (Lower Columbia River PORTS), and Cape Henry, Va. (Chesapeake Bay South PORTS). Cooperative relationships fostered by NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System program provided the underpinning for this project. 

Fog is also a major concern for maritime traffic. Mobile Bay, Ala., is susceptible to heavy fog throughout fall and winter months, leading NOAA and the Alabama State Port Authority to select Pinto Island and Middle Bay Port as sites for two operational visibility stations. In addition to visibility sensors giving mariners the ability to see clearly, these two stations also contain air temperature and relative humidity sensors to supplement visibility measurements.  The visibility sensor has been extensively tested, evaluated, and selected in a collaborative effort between NOAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, USACE, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Additional visibility installations are planned for other PORTS including Narragansett and Chesapeake Bays.

For more information:

NOAA's Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) | NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services | MyPORTS