Actual Weather Reports for the UK and Europe

About this page

Sources of weather actuals around NW Europe.

WARNING!

Noting the great improvements in weather prediction over recent years and the way in which National Weather Service NWP models use all available data - it is debatable whether much use can be made by a sailor of weather actuals, see my page on DIY forecasting A personal, some would say cynical, view is that they are a comfort blanket! Perhaps they are most useful as an ais to monitoring the forecast. Is that front on schedule?

When at sea, the Coast Guard can always be called up on marine VHF. They should have immediate access to the Met Office page of marine weather actuals.


Related pages


On this page -

BBC Radio 4 Shipping Forecast

After the late night shipping forecast on Radio 4 LW, 198 kHz, there are about 25 reports from locations around British Isles coasts starting from Tiree. After the early morning forecast there are about 12 station reports. The list do change slightly from time to time as observing locations change. Some stations are manned, others are automatic stations. At the latter there are, currently, no reports of "weather" ie rain, snow etc.

For a nice little read, see Weather Reports from Coastal Stations by Geoff Saunders.

Because of pressures on time available in the BBC schedules and the importance given to the shipping forecasts over and above the actuals, it is very unlikely that the BBC will give more air time for this purpose during the daytime.


NAVTEX 490 kHz

Around the UK, the national NAVTEX service on 490 kHz provides actual reports. For schedules see the NAVTEX page or the MCA Marine Safety Leaflet (a 1.4 Mb PDF).


The Internet

This is not normally available when at sea unless you are within a few miles (5 to 10) of the coast or have an aerial to your mobile phone giving 30 miles or more range. It is a different matter when in harbour or at anchor using WiFi or a mobile phone GPRS connection to a laptop PC or a PDA. The Internet gives the most comprehensive set of data available, far more than possible on any public service radio..

Useful sites around the British Isles include

Data in alpha-numeric form

Met Office website

Latest Marine hourly observations from around the UK and including open ocean buoys to the west of the British Isles and Biscay. Undated hourly.----

Irish buoy data

The Irish Met Service Observations Pages are useful to sailors because they give data from the ring of buoys around Ireland. This is a quick page to download and gives the latest hourly data.

Irish land stations

Another quick page to download has the latest hourly data from the land stations over the Republic of Ireland.

Jersey Met Department actuals

Reports from stiona as broadcast by jersey Met, Channel Isles and nearby french coasts.

German coastal actual reports

Not the easiest to access. From this link, hit “Current Weather at Sea.”. The, under “northsea and baltic” or under “mediterranean sea”. Hit “more.”. Then hit “observations,” “spec observations” or “observations med sea.”

NOAA Data Buoy Center

Buoy, Light Vessel and Rig data around the British Isles. It is necessary to look at one location at a time, but there are hourly reports for a day or more back. The page also has a link to ship reports in the area.

English Channel to the Eastern Mediterranean.

More from NOAA NDBC.

UK Met Office

Reports from UK land stations, updated hourly.

Satellite wind data

Satellite derived winds from the European satellite. This uses the scattering of a radar beam fired at the sea surface.

XCWeather

The most comprehensive source of actual wind data for weather observing sites over the UK, France, Germany, Iberia and italy. This gives latest wind data from airfields, data buoys, light vessels etc. Hover the pointer over a wind arrow and read off the location and the latest wind. Be careful though, because some data are refreshed every 20 minutes, some every hour and others less often.

Brittany Weather reports. data.

Continuously updated beach reports from St Malo to Pornic. Hover over a location to see the latest

Observations - Map Search

To access all marine observations in a geographical area anywhere in the world. Curiously to European eyes, the US data centre converts the pressures into inches of mercury and temperatures into degrees Fahrenheit as "English" units. This is the default.. Choose metric units for the more usual hectoPascals/millibars and degrees Celsius. Equally curiously, you get more data if you put "English" units!.

  • NOTE - Ships usually only report the weather at the main hours of 00, 06, 12, 18 UTC. When using this site, therefore, choose a time shown as "t-2" or "t-3" etc to define one of these main hours. Perhaps better is to choose "the past 6 hours"..

UK Weather


Observations updated every 20 minutes from locations all over the UK. Many are not be near the coast. The wind directions are described, curiously as "travelling North East (50 degrees)". That means a NE wind!.


Plotted weather charts

NW Eirope
Nothern Europe plus isobars

For other areas and oceans see some of the links on the Chart links page. A decode of weather symbols and an explanation of the plots is in Wikipedia.


"Unofficial" Automatic Weather Stations eg CHIMET

There are some automatic weather stations sites at strategic locations such as the Chichester Bar (CHIMET) and on the Bramble Bank, at the entrance to Southampton water. These stations report wind and sea state among other parameters. Just how useful these are to the leisure sailor is a matter of personal opinion. Clearly, it must be useful to the master of a large bulk carrier coming up the Solent to know what the wind is like over the Bramble Bank..

On a slow moving yacht two or three hours off the Chichester Bar, I would be looking at the tide tables and working out the state of tide over the bar for my ETA.

In the event of a strong wind, I would be aiming to arrive with the most favourable tide/wind conditions. A knowledge of wave and wind some few hours off would not help very much. I would be well aware of the wind strength and direction. I would have heard the forecast. In such situations conditions will depend greatly on the time in the tidal cycle. Information of such sort may well not be a good indicator of future conditions even a short time ahead.

Such data are no doubt interesting, but there is no substitute for good seamanship and careful planning. I have given a Listing of "Unofficial" weather sites" around the British isles on another page


Summary

From the above, it can be seen that the Internet is a good source of latest actual data when ashore, in harbour or within mobile phone range of the coast.
At sea, the options are the BBC late at night and early morning, NAVTEX 490 kHz and, if really necessary, the Coastguard on VHF.


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