Science News

Map Update Improves Online Coastal Observations and Forecasts

NOAA has upgraded nowCOAST, a GIS-based online map service providing more frequently updated ocean observations along with coastal and marine weather forecasts. The new version, which went live on September 21, also offers a visual point-and-click access to 60 NOAA data products and services. Users can reach the site at nowcoast.noaa.gov.

 

“NOAA’s nowCOAST gives the public a one-stop-shop look at coastal conditions — real-time and forecast — before they do or plan anything on the water,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “Are you sailing? Look at the winds and currents. Are you a commercial shipper? Get your high seas marine weather forecast, on the same animated map where you can check the tides before you approach your port.”

The original version of nowCOAST, available since 2003, has provided the public with information on the latest observed and predicted coastal weather, marine weather, and oceanographic and river conditions. The updated map viewer allows users to animate observations for the past four hours and forecasts for the next seven days.

The new version also adds significant data from NOAA’s National Ocean Service and National Weather Service, including watches, warnings and advisories for hazardous marine weather conditions, even far offshore. It also provides near-real-time lightning strike density data for land and over water, and hydrologic conditions and predictions from ocean forecast models.

“The new time-enabled map services go beyond traditional navigation uses,” said Luis Cano, director of the NWS dissemination office. “For instance, during coastal storms, emergency managers are now able to overlay National Weather Service watches, warnings, and forecast products on top of critical infrastructure and evacuation maps, for better response.”

NowCOAST is an ArcGIS-based web mapping application developed by the Office of Coast Survey’s Coast Survey Development Laboratory, with technical assistance and IT support from National Weather Service’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

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