9. Shipping Forecasts and Other Weather Information

Work at sea is always weather-dependent. Even motor vessels are limited in their activities by wind speed and direction and these are the most important parameters. It is therefore essential to be in possession of up-to-date information on the weather for planning and carrying out work at sea. Some sources of information are listed below.

BBC Radio 4:

Frequencies: Longwave 198 kHz, VHF 92.4-94.6 MHz, (also MW 720 kHz in N. Ireland and London, 603 kHz Tyneside, 756 kHz Redruth, 774 kHz Plymouth and Enniskillen, 1449 kHz Aberdeen, 1485 kHz Carlisle).

At 00:48, 05:36, 12:01(LW only), and 17:54 (LW only Mon-Fri) Local Time (i.e. GMT in winter, BST in summer) there is the forecast for the offshore sea areas. At 00:48 and 05:36 there are also forecasts for inshore waters and reports from coastal stations.

These details can change and it is wise to check with the latest edition of the "Radio Times".

Other Radio Services:

Other countries also broadcast shipping forecasts; for example on RTE 1 (MW 567 kHz) at 06:02, 12:53, 18:23 (Sat, Sun and Public Holidays), 18:24 (Mon-Fri) and 23:55 LT for the waters around Ireland and on North German Radio (MW 972 kHz) at 07:30 and 23:05 GMT/BST for the North Sea and the Baltic.

H.M. Coastguard broadcasts forecasts every 4 hours on VHF and MF, but these are not receivable with ordinary domestic radio receivers. (Ship-shore communications use about 100 VHF channels in the frequency range 156.0-162.5 MHz and also MF/HF frequencies in the range 1600-2300 kHz).

Away from land there are broadcasts on HF radio including radio-fax and radio-telex transmissions of weather maps, observations and verbal forecasts, which require special receiving equipment. For example, weather-fax frequencies are: Bracknell 2618.5, 4610, 8040, 14436, 18261 kHz; Northwood 3652, 4307, 6452.5, 8331.5 kHz; and Offenbach 3855, 7880, 13882.5 kHz.

There are also messages on the NAVTEX system (518 kHz).

During a research cruise it is the responsibility of the ship's officers to procure meteorological information. Details of meteorological services worldwide are published in the Admiralty List of Radio Signals Volume 3.

Telephone Services

The Meteorological Office provides a commercial service of telephone announcements and telephone-fax messages. These are premium rate telephone numbers, for which there are enhanced charges, see the business section of the telephone book for details under "weather", or "Weather Services" in the Yellow Pages.

On the World Wide Web

The Meteorological Office web site http://www.meto.gov.uk contains the shipping forecasts, satellite images and other information generally available in the radio or newspaper. However this site does not contain any proper weather charts.

The BBC has pages at http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/, including the shipping forecast.

Weather charts are also available from the University of York under "http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~mdc1/weathy.html".

Another excellent website with many good links is Jack Harrison's http://www.itadvice.co.uk/weatherjack/wx.htm.

The "Wetterzentrale" in Karlsruhe has a page with much information and useful links, including weather charts and the American 3 and 9 day forecasts for Europe at "http://www.wetterzentrale.de/"

The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts has surface pressure and upper air charts for 3 to 6 days ahead at "http://www.ecmwf.int/".

The European Meteorological Satellite Organisation, EUMETSAT, has Meteosat images and other meteorological products at "http://www.eumetsat.de/".

Satellite pictures are available from the University of Dundee under "http://www.sat.dundee.ac.uk/auth.html".

The German Weather Service (DWD) has various information at "http://www.dwd.de/".


This document is available on the web at http://www.liv.ac.uk/~leach/wx.html.

H.Leach, Liverpool.