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Important Notice to Mariners


The National Weather Service is soliciting the cooperation of the marine community to safeguard offshore automated weather buoys that provide critical information, including wind speed and direction, wave height, pressure changes, and other key data about marine conditions and developing storms along the coast. The data buoys are an integral part of the comprehensive observation system that allows local forecast offices to issue weather warnings and forecasts for the protection of life and property.

Specific steps that mariners can take to safeguard the systems include:

  • neither boarding nor tying-up to a data buoy;
  • giving the buoy a wide berth to avoid entangling the buoy's mooring or other equipment suspended from the buoy — 500 yards for vessels which are trailing gear, and at least 20 yards for all others;
  • reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard any damage you observe to a data buoy;
  • reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard any observation of people on or vessels attached to a weather buoy.

The NDBC operates a network of offshore automated weather buoys and Coastal-Marine Automated Network stations that provide hourly reports of marine weather to NWS and other agencies. The buoys, off the U.S. coasts and the Great Lakes, may be nearby or several hundred miles at sea. These stations provide hourly data to NWS forecast offices that are important to the preparation of forecasts and warnings. These data are also broadcast to the public over NOAA Weather Radio, and are posted on the Internet at

NDBC buoys have either circular or boat-shaped hulls ranging from three meters to 10 meters across, with superstructures extending five meters to 10 meters above the water. All are painted bright colors and imprinted with "NOAA" and the station number, show a yellow, group-flashing-4 (20 seconds) light characteristic, and are identified on applicable navigation charts by the five-digit station number, or as "ODAS."