Along the shipping channels, thirteen locations were identified as forecast points, from the offshore ship buoy, through the mouth of Tampa Bay, near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and to the northern-most reaches of the channels. A tabular spot-style forecast was derived for each of the thirteen points, providing a summary of weather and oceanographic forecasts and potential hazards along the route through twenty-four hours. In addition, a suite of sophisticated hourly forecast graphics were developed for parameters including wind, visibility, water levels, waves, and currents. These high-resolution spatial and temporal graphics, along with the tabular summarized forecasts, have greatly assisted Port Tampa Bay pilots, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other entities in maintaining public safety while conducting large scale marine operations. The products have been especially valuable during dense marine fog and tropical weather events, which represent significant economic and public safety burdens for Port Tampa Bay.
The goal of this presentation is to illustrate the power of inter-agency collaborative processes toward meeting large-scale partner-oriented goals. As NOAA further seeks to focus on innovation through collaboration, successful projects such as the Marine Channels Forecast will serve as a model for other NWS offices seeking to extend decision support services to marine interests within their respective county warning areas. Such collaborative efforts will surely play a central role as we move further toward securing a Weather Ready Nation.