NOAA 2004-R215
Contact: Ron Trumbla
NOAA News Releases 2004
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Mariners in Tampa Bay and the waters off the west central coast of Florida may now receive NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) transmissions dedicated to marine watches and warnings. Co-sponsored by NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the new transmitter is located in Largo (Pinellas County) and is linked directly to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office in Ruskin. NOAA is an agency of the U.S Department of Commerce.

Operating at a frequency of 162.450 Megahertz (MHz), the transmitter is equipped with a directional antenna to spread the signal over water instead of land. The weather forecast office (WFO) will provide 24-hour forecasts and warnings for the Tampa Bay area and coastal waters out to 60 nautical miles.

“That represents an important extension of the normal broadcast range for a NOAA Weather Radio,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Since the signal reaches further into the often turbulent Gulf of Mexico, it significantly increases our ability to reach mariners directly with the warnings. This is great news for the area’s commercial fishermen, recreational boaters and people aboard the ships coming in and out of this major port.”

The Port of Tampa is Florida’s largest seaport handling nearly half of all the seaborne cargo that passes through the state. That is more than the combined tonnage for Florida’s other 13 deepwater seaports. It is also ranked as the twelfth largest cargo port in the nation and is a major port for the rapidly expanding cruise industry. Nearly 125,000 recreational and commercial fishing boats are registered in the three counties (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee) surrounding Tampa Bay.

“Not only does the new marine-based NOAA Weather Radio have a longer range, but its programming cycle will be shorter allowing us to broadcast forecasts more frequently,” said Ira Brenner, meteorologist-in charge of WFO Ruskin. “Whether they are on the water for commercial or recreational purposes, this vital service will help mariners make safer choices.”

In addition to the weather forecasts, watches and warnings, the new transmitter will be used by NOAA Fisheries to broadcast fishery closures; marine public service announcements; and, information on fishery management, meetings and regulations.

Roy Crabtree, NOAA administrator of NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Region, believes the new station represents a new generation of broadcasting for NOAA Fisheries and the NWS.

“The goal of the station is to broadcast timely information on both marine weather and marine resources and fisheries,” said Crabtree. “We want our broadcasts to help assure a safe, enjoyable boating experience for our listeners. We also want to help our listeners play their important role as stewards in protecting and preserving our marine resources, especially our endangered sea turtles and mammals. The concerned listener will now have timely information empowering them with the knowledge necessary to comply with our marine regulations, report violators to federal or state enforcement agencies and contribute to ongoing management programs by attending public meetings and providing input on proposed regulatory changes. In other words, the concerned listener will become a partner in our grand enterprise to protect and preserve our nation's living marine resources.”

The NOAA Weather Radio network has more than 800 stations, covering all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. Pacific Territories. Weather radios come in many sizes, with a variety of functions and costs. Some receivers automatically sound an alarm and turn themselves on if a severe weather warning is broadcast and can be programmed to warn for weather and civil emergencies in only your county.

Most NOAA Weather Radio receivers are either battery-operated portables or AC-powered desktop models with battery backup. Some scanners, HAM radios, CB radios, short wave receivers and AM/FM radios also are capable of receiving NOAA Weather Radio transmissions. Weather radios can be purchased at many electronics stores.

NOAA’s National 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.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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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