Weather Conditions at Sea

Weather Conditions at Sea

If you’re interested in the weather on land, you’re probably also interested in the weather conditions at sea.

Anyone familiar with the Fylde Coast will know that there are usually rigs offshore in the Irish Sea that can be seen lit up at night. Sometimes you can see the flare on them, burning off gas.

Monitoring Weather Conditions at Sea

But did you know that the rigs we can see, along with other gadgets far offshore, report on weather conditions at sea?

Here are a few of them. As we discover others we’ll add them here.

Real Time Wave Data – offshore at Cleveleys

Lots of interesting information about waves is available from the Channel Coastal Observatory website, recorded from a buoy off Cleveleys.

See the wave data here as it monitors weather conditions out at sea.

The table below is from Sunday 9 September into the morning of Monday 10th. From this table you can see that the wave height reached about 3.5m out at sea, just after 2pm.

Wave height, from the buoy off Cleveleys which is measuring weather conditions at sea
Wave height, from the buoy off Cleveleys which is measuring weather conditions at sea

The table tells us that at 9am the wave height at sea was just under 3m (or 9′). Compare that information to the photo below which was taken onland at 9am. You can see that most of the energy of the waves has dissipated as the sea reaches shore.

Monitoring weather conditions at sea
Wave height onshore at Cleveleys at 9am on 9.9.18

This buoy, and the Channel Coastal Observatory website, is owned and operated by the National Network of Regional Coastal Monitoring Programmes of England.

The Network comprises 6 Regional Programmes. Each of which collect data from their own coastal areas which is used in coastal engineering and management.

Tide Gauge at Heysham

Did you know that there’s a tide gauge at Heysham, which compares the predicted tide heights against actual measurements?

If you’re interested in the coastal environment, you ‘ll know that the sea move through a regular annual cycle of low and high tides. It’s important to be able to predict how the tide might be affected by prevailing weather, especially in storm conditions.

The red line in the table below shows the predicted tide height, and the blue dots are actual recordings.

Recording weather conditions at sea
Tidal gauge measurements at Heysham

The tide gauge at Heysham is part of the UK National Tide Gauge Network. It’s owned and operated by the Environment Agency and records tidal elevations at 44 locations around the UK coast.

National Data Buoy Centre

One of the international systems for collecting offshore information is the National Data Buoy Centre (NDBC).

It’s based in Mississippi and its mission is “to provide marine meteorological, oceanographic and geophysical observations accurately and in real-time to assist warning centres, marine forecasters, the military, ocean platform operators and the public“.

Find out more about the National Data Buoy Centre

Their website opens with a world map (below) showing where the weather stations are sited. There are 1377 stations (as of 7.9.18). In the previous 8 hours to updating this article 1024, of them had reported information.

National Data Buoy Centre records Weather conditions at sea
National Data Buoy Centre records Weather conditions at sea

You can zoom in on the map to look at individual monitoring stations around the UK, or anywhere else in the world that tickles your fancy. Fortunately, there aren’t any tsunami stations in UK waters!

National Data Buoys in waters around the UK, all recording weather conditions at sea
National Data Buoys in waters around the UK, all recording weather conditions at sea (screenshot 7.9.18)

Nearby Data Buoys reporting Weather Conditions at Sea

Observations from data buoys measuring weather conditions at sea include wind direction and speed. But interestingly, to us here on land with a birds eye view of the water, they also include wave height.

In April 2012 when this article was originally written, the wave height at 62301 peaked at 4.3’ with a lowest recording of 2.6’. It would be interesting to see what the measurements are during a strong wind and heavy storm!

The rig which could be seen off the Fylde Coast/Blackpool was home to station number 62125. It’s not transmitting now but follow its link to get data from nearby stations and ships currently recording weather conditions at sea.

Are you interested in Coast Watchers?

Coast Watchers is a new project between us here at Visit Fylde Coast, Wyre Council’s engineering team, and Michael Lusty, a Masters student at Lancaster University.

Coast Watchers, recording weather conditions at sea
Coast Watchers

We’re using your real-life observations (including photos) along with information from different sources, like these data buoys. The purpose is to properly understand (and share) what’s happening on our section of shoreline.

Interested in the weather, photography, computers, beaches and sea defences? Why don’t you get involved?

You can join in with an initial trial period while we all work out how to make it work. Then you can all be Citizen Scientists and upload your own photos and help with the recording.

Find out More

Have a look at the Visit Fylde Coast website homepage for more of the latest updates.

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