NOAA 2001-R287
Contact: Pat Slattery


The National Data Buoy Center, part of the National Weather Service, deployed its latest automatic weather station last week atop the Lake St. Clair Lighthouse near Detroit, Mich. This is the 57th station in the Coastal-Marine Automated Network (C-MAN), operated by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency for the weather service and NDBC.

Operating in waters across the nation, C-MAN stations are situated on fixed locations, such as beaches and piers, or offshore platforms. Each is designed to give forecasters hourly reports about wind speed, wind direction, temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure. Some also measure water temperature and tides. The newest station adds a permanent point for gathering information at Lake St. Clair, and gives forecasters a more complete picture of the weather at any given moment.

"Though there are weather-reporting data buoys in the lake, they are retrieved by the middle of November and not re-deployed until April," said Greg Mann of NOAA's National Weather Service Forecast Office in Detroit. "We produce marine forecasts year-round for Lake St. Clair, and the worst storms usually occur in late fall or early spring."

The University of Michigan and the Meteorological Service of Canada operate separate weather-gathering stations in Lake St. Clair, but important differences exist between the floating buoys and the fixed lighthouse station. The Lake St. Clair lighthouse is located in the middle of Lake St. Clair, about 6 miles east-southeast of St. Clair Shores, Mich. Because of its location and elevation, the new C-MAN station provides an aspect of weather reporting and forecasting in the area that had been missing – data that can better inform navigators of existing conditions.

"Mariners will notice that wind speeds reported by the new C-MAN station are higher than the nearby buoys, because the position of the anemometer is 65 feet high, compared to the anemometer heights of 10 to 15 feet on the buoys in the lake," said Dave Gilhousen, a meteorologist at the NDBC. "These winds are representative of what bigger ships experience."

The C-MAN station is funded through the Michigan Department of Environment Quality with support from the U.S. Geological Survey, which conducts the computer modeling; and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which funded the DEQ and will be the principal beneficiary of the study.

"Boaters and fishermen should find the observations valuable in planning outings. Everyone will find the more-accurate reports useful. Winds over the water are often considerably different than those over land," Mann said.

The station's real-time measurements are posted under the Recent Marine Data section of the NDBC's Web site, The station is identified as LSCM4. The latest observations are also read over NOAA Weather Radio at the 162.55 frequency. When Internet access is not available, the public can obtain observations from the Dial-A-Buoy computer-generated voice system. Dial-A-Buoy's phone number is
(228) 688-1948, and operating instructions can be found at

The NDBC, located at Stennis Space Center, Miss., first began deploying weather buoys on the Great Lakes in 1979, in response to the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and now has a network of eight buoys on the Great Lakes. The Meteorological Service of Canada operates nine similar buoys on the Great Lakes. C-MAN stations were added in 1984 and there are now nine stations on lighthouses, islands, and jetties. The NDBC Web site, which posts all of these reports, receives more than 4 million hits each month.

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