How can I receive NDBC observations via RSS?

Don't have high bandwidth at sea, but you can access the Internet at slower speeds? You can obtain the latest observations in a condensed format via RSS! NDBC's RSS feeds are also useful to high bandwidth users of popular map services.

What is RSS?

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a family of web formats used to publish frequently updated digital content. It has commonly been used to update news articles and other content that changes quickly, making it useful for monitoring station observation changes.

How do I use RSS to get buoy observations?

Programs called feed 'readers' or 'aggregators' collect RSS XML formatted content and present it in a user friendly format. Newer versions of web browsers and email programs offer built in support for RSS feeds. The user 'subscribes' to a feed by entering the link of the RSS feed into their RSS feed reader; the RSS feed reader then checks the subscribed feeds to see if any have new content since the last time it checked, and if so, retrieves the new content and presents it to the user.

To set it up, you'll need the URL to provide to the service when you subscribe. Go to your favorite station page, such as 42040, and look for the RSS icons. There are two pre-formatted RSS links: 1. the single station or 2. a search for stations within 100 nautical miles (our preset radius) of that station.

  1. Single Station - Look for and click on the RSS icon Image indicating link to RSS feed to the right of the station name/location. If your browser supports RSS, you will get another view of the data. If your browser includes an RSS subscription service, you will probably have a choice to subscribe to the link. Otherwise, copy the URL.
  2. Stations within 100 nautical miles - Look for the RSS icon Image indicating link to RSS feed to the right of the "Meteorological Observations from Nearby Stations" item. Again, copy the URL.
  3. Manually construct the URL - You can copy the following URL and change it to use your location (latitude and longitude) and search radius (nautical miles): Warning! Using a large search radius may return a very large dataset - more than 500 KB.

Paste the copied link into your favorite RSS reader or map service! Some services will give you an option to remember or subscribe to the URL.

All stations shown on the NDBC web site can be obtained, except for drifting buoys.

What measurements can I obtain from the RSS feeds?

Here is a list of measurements you can obtain from the RSS feeds when available in the station:
Wind direction, wind speed, wind gust, wave height, dominant wave period, average period, mean wave direction, atmospheric pressure, pressure tendency, air temperature, water temperature, dew point, visibility and tide.
You can also have access to these measurements in the latest obs file. This file is re-created every five minutes when parsing our realtime feeds: latest obs file.

Where can I learn more about RSS?

Go to NOAA's NWS RSS Library for other National Weather Service (NWS) products via RSS, and for more detailed information about the service.