On-scene weather available by phone

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Learning the latest on-scene weather conditions and marine forecasts is now as easy as making a phone call, thanks to a newif temporaryservice being offered by NOAA.

The Dial-a-Buoy system, introduced for public service in June, provides the latest wind and wave measurements at 65 buoy and 54 coastal stations around the U.S., including the Great Lakes. By dialing 228-688-1948 (a toll call to the National Buoy Data Center in Stennis Space Center, Miss.) users are connected to a voice broadcast of information on NOAA's buoy center website: www.ndbc.noaa.gov.

A user must know the estimated latitude and longitude of the desired location, and the system's software then connects the user to the closest buoy. A robotic voice then identifies the buoy by a five-digit code, which enables the user to bypass the tedious lat/long system on future calls, and then describes on-scene weather conditions and gives a marine forecast.

The service will run for an indefinite period, according to NOAA spokesman Barry Reichenbaugh, until a budget plan can be established. It is NOAA's hope that a private business will take over the service since it is not within the government's budget to provide Dial-A-Buoy free of charge. Send comments about the Dial-A-Buoy system to the Buoy Center's website via e-mail: webmaster@www.ndbc.noaa.gov.

By Ocean Navigator