About this page
A brief listing of sources if marine forecast schedules.
The primary method of broadcasting Marine Safety Information (MSI) is NAVTEX which can provide coverage up to around 400 nautical miles out to sea although this depends on many reception issues. This service is complemented by radio telephony with networks of remote radio sites around coasts providing VHF and MF coverage out to 30 miles and 150 miles respectively. Marine weather forecasts are broadcast on VHF and MF radio at schedules listed on these pages for much of western Europe.
- SOLAS and the GMDSS - how they apply to leisure sailors
- Sources of Marine Weather Forecasts
- UK Coastguard Broadcasts on VHF/MF
On this page -
Full MSI broadcasts are made by Radio Telephony (R/T) twice a day. A new Inshore Waters Forecast and any Gale Warnings will be broadcast every 6 hours and will be repeated together with any Strong Wind Warnings (SWW) three hours later. The broadcast times shown in the schedules on another page are in local clock' time i.e. they will remain unchanged throughout the year.
NOTE The broadcast of MSI may be interrupted or delayed as a result of Search and Rescue operations. Maritime Safety Information is pre-recorded, often by different Coastguard Officers. A single MSI transmission may include different voices and accents. This is not an indication that transmissions are from different locations.
The 3-hourly MSI broadcasts are on VHF Channels 23, 84 or 86, and exceptionally Channel 10. This prevents mutual interference and allows one operator to broadcast simultaneously on two or more aerials. This is important especially when some broadcasts take up to 20 minutes and in order to minimise the delay in transmitting the information nationally.
Meteorological Warnings – UK
Gale warnings for Sea Areas are broadcast as soon as possible after receipt and are valid for 24 hours unless cancelled. After 24 hours, a gale warning still in force will be renewed. Strong wind warnings for Inshore Waters are also broadcast as soon as possible after receipt. Both are kept under continuous review by forecasters.
Strong wind warnings will only be issued if the wind in an Inshore Waters forecast area is expected to exceed force 6 but was not identified in the previous Inshore Waters forecast. These will be broadcast on receipt and may be included in the repetition broadcast; they are valid until the next new Inshore Waters forecast. Users are encouraged to listen to these broadcasts as an alternative to calling co-ordination centres for meteorological information.
Gale warnings, Inshore Waters Forecasts and Shipping Forecasts can also be accessed from the Met Office Web Site and on the BBC site available on both as text only or printable versions for quick downloading.
Note that a gale warning is a forecast while a cancellation is a statement of fact. This leads, sometimes, to the impression that forecasters are “Playing safe.”
This is not and should not be the case; to over-warn is to cry wolf and devalue the warnings as a whole.
The “rules” for UK shipping forecast gale warnings are strict
- A warning MUST be issued if the forecaster considers that a gale force 8 or more MAY occur somewhere within a sea area within the next 12 hours.
- A gale warning can be issued if gales are expected between 12 and 24 hours ahead. BUT
- In case of uncertainty, the forecast may contain the word “perhaps gale 8 later” without the need to issue a warning.
- A gale warning is cancelled when the forecaster is reasonably certain that there are no longer gales force winds anywhere in a sea area
- Warnings are self cancelling after 24 hours but may be renewed
This is a “best practice.” Other countries have similar procedures but may use different criteria. For example, France issues warnings of fog. Others issue warnings for thunderstorms.
UK Broadcasts of Forecasts and Warings
Deatils are at the HM Coastguard Weather Forecast Schedules page.
Similar forecasts can be obtained from the local MRCCs. For Schedules see ALRS, Almanacs or the National Met Service Internet sites. A “catch-all” site is the WMO Weather Reporting Volume D
Several Western European VHF services are listed below, Other European areas VHF forecast services are on other pages as indicated, Times are UTC except where noted.
France and the Channel Islands
Le Guide marine de Météo France has details of all French MSI broadcasts.
See the Met Éireann web site
Wetter un Warnfunk contains information on schedules of German MSI broadcasts as well as Danish and Dutch services including “non-GMDSS” broadcasts.
German Traffic Centres give regular and frequent updates of weather conditions in the approaches to ports and harbours
Sometimes there are extra broadcasts to this schedule, in English, announced on Ch 16. As ever, it pays to keep a listening watch.
For details see my Baltic Weather Forecast page.
More likely to be up to date -
- Swedish VHF stations
- Norwegian VHF stations
- Danish schedules are at Lyngby Radio site.
- Finnish broadcast details are on the Turku radio site
Try the document.
VHF channels and schedules are at an AEMet Page.
Try the document.
See the Mediterranean Weather Forecast page.