The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

Update on Proposed East Pacific Offshore Waters Forecasts

Hugh D. Cobb, III

January 16th, 2015

The Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) of the National Hurricane Center understands that the northeast Pacific basin is a highly traversed area for cruise ships and recreational vessels. Major cruise lines embark at a number of ports-of-call along the coast of Central America, Mexico, and Baja California. Baja California and the surrounding waters (northeast Pacific and the Gulf of California) is host to a vast array of recreational boaters such as yourselves. Thanks to your efforts in contacting us, we are fully cognizant of the vast number of marine interests in the region, and the resulting need for more detailed maritime forecasts.

TAFB is committed to the eventual production of an offshore waters forecast for the East Pacific basin. Our previous correspondence with Mr. Mark Schneider and some of you described in great detail the plans for our offshore waters forecasts.  TAFB operationally implemented gridded marine forecasts on April 3, 2012 for the Atlantic and East Pacific basin. For the Atlantic basin, the existing offshore waters zones were subdivided into 32 zones to allow text formatters to provide detailed forecasts for the southwest North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. In is anticipated that the use of the text formatters will also be applied to the gridded database in the East Pacific to provide detailed zone forecasts for Baja California, Mexico and Central America.

There are a number of hurdles internally we must overcome before we can deliver the enhanced service to you. Two of the key hurdles are the acquisition of addition numerical model data sets in our Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) Gridded Forecast Editor (GFE) and redistribution of the existing workflow on our East Pacific forecast desk to allow for the production of the offshore waters forecast for the basin.  The proposed area for the new offshore waters forecast falls within METAREA XII of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Marine Broadcast System for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

Although the United States is recognized as the issuing service for METAREA XII, agreements may be required between the   U.S., Mexico and Central American countries. The plan is to follow up with the NWS Office of International Affairs (IA) to determine the most efficient method of accomplishing this without incurring significant hurdles.  Going forward, the plan is to acquire the necessary data sets in AWIPS/GFE and review the existing workflow by the end of March 2015 and determine the feasibility of providing an experimental offshore waters forecast by the summer of 2015. It is anticipated the transition of the experimental product to an operational status would be achieved through efficiencies in the production of existing products and services.  I sincerely thank you for your overwhelming enthusiasm for enhanced forecast services for the East pacific basin. Let me assure you, NHC/TAFB is committed to providing the best service to our marine customers and look forward to providing the enhanced services the offshore waters forecast will provide. On behalf of the staff here, I would like to extend best wishes for a Happy Holiday season.


Hugh Cobb, Chief NHC/TAFB


National Hurricane Center



  1. jean baillargeon says:

    this piece reads like an internal memo of somekind. Can we get a translation;)

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