A Visit to the NOAA NWS Wakefield Office
The NOAA NWS Wakefield Office, the office responsible for our marine forecasts, reached out to some users of their products to get input on there products. We had our first meeting on Saturday, 17 Mar 12. We had reps from recreational anglers, sail boaters, USCG, and Virginia Pilots. Lanie and I attended as the recreational angler reps. Here is a summary of the notes I took.
1. Offshore segments: There are huge offshore gaps in coverage such as the 40-60 mile segments. The Baltimore to Hatteras segment is simply too large to make any accurate predictions. Need to break that segment up into more manageable chunks. Also most forecasts talk about the north and south segments with Virginia being in the middle it is difficult to tell how the forecast applies to us the middle Virginia segment such as the Norfolk Canyon. 5-15 knots is a terrible forecast providing little information on whether to go or not go. I know the Wakefield office is not responsible for these segments but NOAA agreed to pass them along.
2. Marine Warnings. Per our discussions, give as much warning time as possible. It sometimes takes over an hour to get off the water while fishing the lower bay and we are traveling directly into the ongoing storms. Acknowledge sometimes the storm falls apart before reaching water but with the warning tone over the VHF, it makes us small boaters become more aware of the weather and start making plans to take action.
3. 10-15 forecast. If there is a way to segment this into 10-13 and 13-15 that would be helpful. This forecast is on the edge of our go, no go decision. The low side of 10-15 is go while the high side is often no go.
4. The click map forecasts are great. Keep that up.
5. Hazardous Weather Outlook. I agree with others, we often do not go to this and may be missing important information. If there is a way to integrate the important aspects of the HWO this into the 3 hour coastal water forecast, it would be read and paid attention too more.
6. Fog warnings. Would be useful to know when heavy fog conditions exist, particularly when there is little or no fog on land but is heavy on the water.
7. Hourly Weather Forecast Table. Great information. Is there a way to increase the number of days? I know forecast accuracy drops the farther out you go but when planning trips, any information 3-5 days out would be appreciated.
8. New Segments. Kudos for your upcoming new segments for the James, York, and Rappahannoc.
It was gratifying to see our forecasters reaching out to the users to get feedback. I know there are days we curse them when we have a bad day on the water when the forecast is wrong and I can see they are very sensitive to that and are trying to find better ways so we can make our own decisions to prior to launching based on our boat size and where we will be fishing. NOAA will continue these meetings about every 6 months or so.
Be safe on the water and pay attention to the weather.
thanks for the information and attending the meeting
Originally Posted by ehherman
Thank you very much for reporting back from the public meeting, it sounds like it was very positive and productive!
Just a few thoughts regarding point #3. I have a small motorboat so like many others that 10-15 wind speed prediction is a key in trip planning for me. It can be really frustrating to have more wind than predicted and sometimes the wind is less than predicted. A lot of small boat fishermen deal with this and many of us curse NOAA when the forecast "blows" the wind prediction and our trips get blown out.
I suspect that the science of weather prediction may not be at the point where the forecasters can have much improvement on that part of the forecast, especially over large geographic areas like the Ches Bay and coastal and offshore areas--in weather forecasting terms that range of wind speed may be too fine a scale to be predicted with better probabilities than what we see first hand on the water.
I would not want the NOAA prediction to automatically err toward the higher wind speed predictions just to provide a safety buffer for small boaters--I would much rather have the best estimate and realize it may be wrong but its the best information available at the time.
Thanks again for attending the meeting and for reporting back.
Thx. Mike, is there a point of contact there we can ask questions to ? If so do you have a phone number or email ? Thx. again.....
Originally Posted by LECTRICFISHRMAN
Mike Montefusco is leading this group. See this link for contact info.
Thx. Mike, once again you have the answer . Good luck when you go .........
Thanks mike. I x2 what SteveL said.
And by the way ,did you get a chance to view any of their instruments and if so did it appear that maybe they were installed backwards? It could explain a lot of their Saturday/Sunday forecast.
Clarence, That is funny but I did ask in a joking manner if they put the senior forecasters on the Mon-Fri shift and the newbies with less experience get the weekend shifts. They said this is not true but still makes you go hmmmmm.
Originally Posted by ccx2