Radio weatherfax broadcasts from station NOJ in Kodiak are of particular value in our daily voyage planning. These same charts can be downloaded from the NOAA website. We receive these HF SSB radio broadcasts most clearly on 8459 MHz depending on the time of day and radio propagation conditions.
There are several software packages to decode weatherfax images — ours is the version that comes with Airmail, the program we use to access the Winlink messaging system. We program our computer to store only the images we use, since not all charts apply to travelers in southeast Alaska’s inside passage.
What we watch:
Specifically, we like to start with the latest surface analysis–the picture of what’s happening now.
Then we look at the 24-hour, 48-hour, and 96 hour surface forecast charts to see how systems are likely to advance, strengthen or weaken, and what kinds of winds we may see.
Finally, we check the 500 MB charts–these are the winds aloft, about 30,000 feet, and help us determine the depth of the lows, and the location of the jetstream and winds aloft that tend to move the surface weather along.
Then, when we read or listen to the marine forecast, we have in mind the bigger picture, and can get a better “feel” for what the next couple of days might hold.
The charts shown at the right are today’s images from NOAA’s Anchorage forecast office–click on each image to view the enlarged chart.
Broadcast stations and schedules:
Click HERE to view the complete NOJ weatherfax schedule. Note that all times are Universal Coordinated Time (“UTC” or “ZULU” time). To change the times to Alaska Daylight time, subtract 8 hours.
For locations farther south along the BC Coast, NOJ signals begin to get weaker. For those areas, Point Reyes, CA (NMJ) or Honolulu, HI (KVM70) will have stronger signals. (Other station data is listed HERE.)
Although NOAA has other new and useful products such as grib charts and digital animations, we still favor the standard weather map.
A good resource to keep on board is NOAA’s radiofacsimile user’s guide, which can be downloaded from the NOAA website.
Today’s Weather Charts
Published once or twice daily (see captions): All times are in UTC (Zulu) time.