NOAA 2002-R236
Contact: Delores Clark
NOAA News Releases 2002
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New Standardized Surf Zone Forecast and Improved Web Page Planned

Weather and ocean experts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offices in Hawaii today announced plans to cooperate on an improved, standardized Surf Zone Forecast and Web page. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

The experts from NOAA National Weather Service’s (NOAA Weather Service) Honolulu Forecast Office and the NOAA National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC) are collaborating on the design and content of the forecast based on customer feedback and the guidance of a newly formed technical advisory group. Additional user friendly graphics and hot button links are being added to the Web page.

“In Hawaii, surf is the number one weather-related killer, “ said Jim Weyman, meteorologist in charge of the Honolulu Forecast Office. “More lives are lost to surf-related accidents every year in Hawaii than another weather event. Between 1993 to 1997, 238 ocean drownings occurred and 473 people were hospitalized for ocean-related spine injuries, with 77 directly caused by breaking waves. This is a serious safety problem. We want to better serve the citizens of Hawaii and visitors to the Islands who may not be familiar with ocean conditions.”

“I look forward to working with NOAA Weather Service on this effort to provide additional information and promote public safety,” said Patrick Caldwell, Pacific/Hawaii liaison officer with NOAA’s NCDDC, and a surfer. “The new surf forecast and Web page will incorporate educational tools and forecast explanations aimed at all levels of ocean users.”

Initial members of the technical advisory group include: Doug Aton, Oahu Civil Defense Agency administrator; Robert Burke, NOAA Weather Service forecaster and avid surfer; Patrick Caldwell, NCDDC; Chip Fletcher, U.H. professor, Geology and Geophysics; Rick Grigg, U.H. researcher and member, Governor’s Task Force on Beach Safety; Tom Heffner, NOAA Weather Service Warning Coordination meteorologist; Jonathan Hoag, NOAA Weather Service forecaster and avid surfer; Roger Lukas, U.H. professor of Oceanography; Mark Merrifield, associate professor, Oceanography and director of the U.H. Sea Level Network; Hans Rosendal, NOAA Weather Service lead forecaster; Tom Schroeder, chairperson and associate professor of U.H. Meteorology Department and director of the University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research.

“We want to add a private sector representative, hopefully from the local surfing community,” said Weyman.

The Surf Zone Forecast and Web page is expected to be up and running by November 15. The site is located at:

“We see this as an evolving product that ultimately will serve the best interests of all of our ocean users, including swimmers, surfers, fishermen and recreational boaters, kayak businesses, and anyone who goes to the beach,” Weyman said.

Caldwell agreed and added that both patience and feedback from the public are requested.

The Surf Zone product and Web page change was spurred by the termination of an NCDDC site which provided forecast information that conflicted with NOAA Weather Service. One of the products objected to was a high surf forecast using the local surfer style of measuring wave heights from the back of the wave. NOAA Weather Service, the only official source for weather forecasts and warnings, uses the international standard face value methodology, measuring waves from the front, trough to crest just before they break. Officials were concerned that more than one forecast was confusing to the public and posed a safety risk. The revised Honolulu Forecast Office Web page will incorporate some of the tables, graphics, and discussion from the terminated site, including swell direction, swell period, and shoaling factor.

Suggestions from the many e-mails and phone calls received after the Web site was terminated will be considered in the formulation of the redesigned NOAA Weather Service Web page.

NOAA National Weather Service (NOAA Weather Service) is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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