Ship Reports in Plain Language

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Weather and ocean observations taken at sea by the diligent crews of Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS) around the world are of great value to both weather forecasters and mariners.  These observations help to accurately initialize weather and ocean prediction models, and they are used directly by marine weather forecasters in their analyses of marine weather both along the coast and across the high seas.  The VOS observations also are of interest to people in maritime communities along the coast, especially where few fixed or buoy observations are available.  Such is the case in the Florida Keys, where no buoys exist for measuring wind and waves, and only a handful of automated lighthouse weather stations exist that measure winds near the coast. The shipping lanes in the Straits of Florida are among the busiest in the world, and the NOAA/Florida Keys National Weather Service has developed a means by which to share VOS reports from the Straits with the local maritime community via a “Plain Language Ship Report”.  The report is shared both online and via broadcasts from NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio transmitters at Sugarloaf Key (VHF 2), Tea Table Key (VHF 5), and Princeton (VHF 4).  Many people in the Florida Keys fishing, diving, boating, and cruising communities have found the VOS reports from the “big ships” offshore to be an important source of “sea truth”, and helpful to smaller craft heading out where no weather data buoys exist. The VOS observations thus are valuable to a wide variety of users, including hurricane specialists, national and local marine weather forecasters, and professional and recreational boaters, anglers, and divers in the Florida Keys. The VOS observations from Florida Keys coastal waters are available online at http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&product=PLS&issuedby=KEY Also, you may find information pertaining to the United States Voluntary Observing Ship Program online at http://www.vos.noaa.gov/. Remember to check the weather (and ocean) before heading out on the water, and as always, be weather-ready, and stay safe!


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