NOAA 2006-R263
Contact: Pat Slattery
NOAA News Releases 2006
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More than a dozen new weather observation platforms deployed in the Great Lakes region by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are providing valuable information directly to recreational and commercial boaters and to National Weather Service meteorologists issuing marine weather forecasts and life-saving warnings.

“Implementation of the Great Lakes weather observation platforms enhances NOAA’s ability to improve weather forecasts and is a concrete example of NOAA’s continuing efforts to enhance the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

NOAA’s National Weather Service, National Ocean Service and Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory joined forces to deploy 13 new coastal weather observation sites throughout the Great Lakes.

“Experienced seafarers know the more information you have, the better off you are on any body of water,” said Richard B. Wagenmaker, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service forecast office in Detroit and member of the joint team that created and coordinated the platform project. “These observation platforms now provide critical information on wind speed and direction, temperature and atmospheric pressure that are updated and broadcast every hour on the Internet for public consumption. Boaters can use the information to avoid perilous situations on the water and our forecasters will incorporate the data with other factors to improve weather and marine forecasts.”

Platform locations were chosen following a study by NOAA and National Weather Service personnel to determine gaps in the Great Lakes coastal weather observing network. “Observations are key to our understanding, analysis and prediction of the Earth’s environment,” said Lynn P. Maximuk, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service Central Region. “Information from these platforms is expected to help improve wind and wave forecasts, assist in the response to coastal hazards, strengthen coastal resource management and improve the safety of marine commerce and recreation in the Great Lakes.”

Maximuk noted the expanded information will enhance the National Weather Service’s mission to protect lives and livelihoods. “Mariners on the Great Lakes are very weather dependent, not only for their own safety, but also for protecting their commercial investments,” said Maximuk. Each year, nearly 200 million tons of cargo, mostly iron ore, limestone and coal, are shipped over the Great Lakes’ sometimes treacherous waters, which are also home to large recreational and commercial fisheries.

The Lake Erie platform was installed at Toledo Harbor Light #2. Lake Huron platforms are at Gravelly Shoal Light in Saginaw Bay and Fort Gratiot, Mich., and Lake Michigan platforms are at Alpena, Big Sable Point, Grand Traverse Light and Menominee, Mich.; Kewaunee and Port Washington, Wis.; and Waukegan Harbor, Ill. Platforms in Lake Superior are located at Portage Canal, Mich., Silver Bay, Minn., and Saxon Harbor, Wis. Some of the collection platforms are on navigation structures just offshore while others are affixed to towers adjacent to lake waters.

In coming years, NOAA plans to install up to 32 additional weather data collection platforms in the Great Lakes to create a denser network of observing stations.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and more than 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

On the Web:


Western Great Lakes Platform Data:

Eastern Great Lakes Platform Data:

NOAA’s National Weather Service:

NOAA’s National Ocean Service:

NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory: