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NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System®

Lower Mississippi River PORTS®

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National Water Level Observation Network

Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services


Real-Time Water, Weather Conditions Now Available for Lower Mississippi

Deep diving submersible Pisces V

PORTS® water and weather data are free and easily accessible online. Users may recieve the latest updates from 20 different locations around the U.S. online or over the telephone. PORTS® improves the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce; supports more effective marine oil spill response; and assists with tsunami and storm surge forecasting. 

A new ocean observing system on the lower Mississippi River serves up free real-time water and weather conditions for mariners ranging from ship captains to pleasure boaters.

The Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®), developed and operated by NOAA, reduces the risk of vessel groundings in the region and will help ensure cargo moves efficiently and safely in and out of the Port of New Orleans.

PORTS® measures, combines, and disseminates observations of water levels, currents, salinity, wind, and bridge clearance. While designed to be of service to the marine transportation community, anyone may access PORTS® information online or by telephone.

NOAA PORTS® information users include port authorities, vessel pilots, shipping companies, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, recreational boaters, fishermen, coastal managers, environmental organizations and academia.

A Canadian tanker passes through Soo Locks early in the shipping season.

Ship draft (the amount of a ship that's below the water) continues to grow, making navigation through narrow channels a challenging task for many navigators. Added to this, traffic at ports around the country continues to increase. PORTS® improves the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic on today's busy waterways by providing integrated real-time environmental observations, forecasts, and other critical information.

The latest system brings to 20 the number of PORTS® in operation around the nation. Just like the communities that they support, PORTS systems come in a variety of sizes and configurations, each designed to meet the needs of the local port.

Studies have shown more than a 50 percent decrease in vessel groundings following the installation of PORTS® in other areas. Estimates of economic benefits directly attributed to PORTS® range from $7 million per year for Tampa Bay to $16 million per year for Houston-Galveston.

The Port of New Orleans is tied to about $8 billion in yearly earnings and 160,000 jobs. Approximately 15,000 ships and 700,000 passengers pass through the area each year. The lower Mississippi hosts approximately 500 million tons of cargo annually.