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Operational Forecast System


Operational Forecast System Description


The primary objective of the National Operational Coastal Modeling Program (NOCMP) is to develop and operate a national network of Operational Nowcast and Forecast Hydrodynamic Model Systems (called OFS) to support NOAA's mission goals and priorities. An OFS consists of the automated integration of observing system data streams, hydrodynamic model predictions, product dissemination and continuous quality-control monitoring. State-of-the-art numerical hydrodynamic models driven by real-time data and meteorological, oceanographic, and/or river flow rate forecasts will form the core of these end-to-end systems. The OFS will perform nowcast and short-term (0 hr. - 48 hr.) forecast predictions of pertinent parameters (e.g., water levels, currents, salinity, temperature, waves) and disseminate them to users.

Nowcasts and forecasts are scientific predictions about the present and future states of water levels (and possibly currents and other relevant oceanographic variables, such as salinity and temperature) in a coastal area. These predictions rely on either observed data or forecasts from a numerical model. A nowcast incorporates recent (and often near real-time) observed meteorological, oceanographic, and/or river flow rate data. A nowcast covers the period of time from the recent past (e.g., the past few days) to the present, and it can make predictions for locations where observational data are not available. A forecast incorporates meteorological, oceanographic, and/or river flow rate forecasts and makes predictions for times where observational data will not be available. A forecast is usually initiated by the results of a nowcast.

OFS are being implemented in critical ports, harbors, estuaries, Great Lakes and coastal waters of the United States, and will join the National Ocean Service's operational oceanographic capabilities to form a national backbone of real-time data, tidal predictions, data management and operational modeling.

The National Ocean Service's Operational Data Acquisition and Archiving System (ODAAS) acquires, subsets and archives real-time observations and the National Weather Service's (NWS) forecast model guidance in support the suite of real-time nowcast/forecast systems listed below. Below, click on each OFS region to display or close a list of OFS.

Operational Forecast System Regions: Atlantic


  • Chesapeake Bay Operational Forecast System

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) has upgraded its Chesapeake Bay Operational Forecast System (CBOFS). The new higher resolution CBOFS is now based on a three-dimensional ROMS model that runs on NOAA's High Performance Computers (HPC). In addition to providing water level nowcast and forecast guidance, the new CBOFS now also provides currents, water temperature and salinity as well as interpolated winds from National Weather Service products. CBOFS runs four times per day and generates 6-hour nowcasts and 48-hour forecast guidance. CBOFS products include time series graphics at station locations and aerial animations of the whole Chesapeake Bay for all five parameters (wind, water level, currents, temperature and salinity).

  • Delaware Bay Operational Forecast System

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) has developed a Delaware Bay Operational Forecast System (DBOFS). DBOFS is based on a three-dimensional ROMS model that runs on NOAA's High Performance Computers (HPC). DBOFS provides water level, currents, water temperature and salinity nowcast and forecast guidance as well as interpolated winds from National Weather Service products. DBOFS runs four times per day and generates 6-hour nowcasts and 48-hour forecast guidance. DBOFS products include time series graphics at station locations and aerial animations of the whole Delaware Bay for all five parameters (wind, water level, currents, temperature and salinity).

  • New York and New Jersey Operational Forecast System

NOS created the Port of New York and New Jersey Operational Forecast System (NYOFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in the Port of New York and New Jersey. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance.

  • St. John's River Operational Forecast System

NOS created the St. John's River Operational Forecast System (SJROFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in St. John's River. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance.

Operational Forecast System Regions: Gulf of Mexico


  • Galveston Bay Operational Forecast System

NOS created the Galveston Bay Operational Forecast System (GBOFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in Galveston Bay. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance.

  • Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) has developed the Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System (NGOFS) including two nested Northeast and Northwest Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast Systems (NEGOFS/NWGOFS). NGOFS is based on a three-dimensional FVCOM model that runs on NOAA's High Performance Computing System (HPC). NGOFS provides water levels, currents, water temperature and salinity nowcast and forecast guidance as well as interpolated winds from National Weather Service products for the northern Gulf of Mexico including seven ports at Matagorda Bay, Galveston Bay, Sabine Neches, Calcasieu/Lake Charles, Gulfport, Pascagoula Bay and Mobile Bay, six of which are CO-OPS PORTS® partners. NGOFS runs four times per day and generates 6-hour nowcasts and 48-hour forecast guidance. NGOFS products include time series graphics at station locations and aerial animations for all five parameters (winds, water levels, currents, temperature and salinity).

  • Tampa Bay Operational Forecast System

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) has developed a Tampa Bay Operational Forecast System (TBOFS). TBOFS is based on a three-dimensional ROMS model that runs on NOAA's High Performance Computers (HPC). TBOFS provides water level, currents, water temperature and salinity nowcast and forecast guidance as well as interpolated winds from National Weather Service products. TBOFS runs four times per day and generates 6-hour nowcasts and 48-hour forecast guidance. TBOFS products include time series graphics at station locations and aerial animations of the whole Tampa Bay for all five parameters (wind, water level, currents, temperature and salinity).

Operational Forecast System Regions: Great Lakes


  • Lake Erie Operational Forecast System

NOS created the Lake Erie Operational Forecast System (LEOFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in the Lake Erie. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance. More information about the Great Lakes OFS, go to the GLOFS web page.

  • Lake Huron Operational Forecast System

NOS created the Lake Huron Operational Forecast System (LHOFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in the Lake Huron. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance. More information about the Great Lakes OFS, go to the GLOFS web page.

  • Lake Michigan Operational Forecast System

NOS created the Lake Michigan Operational Forecast System (LMOFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in the Lake Michigan. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance. More information about the Great Lakes OFS, go to the GLOFS web page.

  • Lake Ontario Operational Forecast System

NOS created the Lake Ontario Operational Forecast System (LHOFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in the Lake Ontario. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance. More information about the Great Lakes OFS, go to the GLOFS web page.

  • Lake Superior Operational Forecast System

NOS created the Lake Superior Operational Forecast System (LSOFS) to provide the maritime community with improved short-term predictions of water levels and currents in the Lake Superior. Be advised that these predictions are based on a hydrodynamic model and, as such, should be considered as computer-generated forecast guidance. More information about the Great Lakes OFS, go to the GLOFS web page.

Operational Forecast System Regions: Pacific


  • Columbia River Estuary Operational Forecast System

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) has developed a Columbia River Estuary Operational Forecast System (CREOFS). CREOFS is based on a three-dimensional SELFE model that runs on NOAA's High Performance Computers (HPC). CREOFS provides water level, currents, water temperature and salinity nowcast and forecast guidance as well as interpolated winds from National Weather Service products for five separate subdomains: Upper Columbia River subdomain, Middle Columbia River subdomain, Lower Columbia River subdomain, Columbia River Bar Entrance subdomain, and the mouth and offshore subdomain of the Columbia River. CREOFS runs four times per day and generates 6-hour nowcasts and 48-hour forecast guidance. CREOFS products include time series graphics at station locations and aerial animations of the Columbia River Estuary for all five parameters (wind, water level, currents, temperature and salinity).

  • San Francisco Bay Operational Forecast System

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) has developed a San Francisco Bay Operational Forecast System (SFBOFS). SFBOFS is based on a three-dimensional FVCOM model that runs on NOAA's High Performance Computing System (HPCS). SFBOFS provides water levels, currents, water temperature and salinity nowcast and forecast guidance as well as interpolated winds from National Weather Service products for two subdomains: the San Francisco Bay and the San Francisco Bay Entrance. SFBOFS runs four times per day and generates 6-hour nowcasts and 48-hour forecast guidance. SFBOFS products include time series graphics at station locations and aerial animations of the San Francisco Bay for all five parameters (winds, water levels, currents, temperature and salinity).


Revised: 10/15/2013
NOAA / National Ocean Service
Web site owner: Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services