For decades, mariners in the United States have depended on NOAA's Tide Tables for the best estimate of expected water levels. These tables provide accurate predictions of the astronomical tide (i.e., the change in water level due to the gravitational effects of the moon and sun and the rotation of the Earth); however, they cannot predict water-level changes due to wind, atmospheric pressure, and river flow, which are often significant.
A three-dimensional U.S. West Coast Operational Forecast System (WCOFS) has been developed to serve the maritime user community. WCOFS was developed in a joint project of the NOAA/National Ocean Service (NOS)/Office of Coast Survey, the NOAA/NOS/Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS), and the NOAA/National Weather Service (NWS)/National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Central Operations (NCO) using Rutgers University's Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). WCOFS assimilates real-time observations in a three-day window to generate water level, current, temperature and salinity nowcast and forecast guidance once a day. Aerial animations of the surface properties as well as time series at particular stations or points of interest are available for the wind, water level, currents, temperature, and salinity.
WCOFS runs on NOAA's High Performance Computers (HPC) in a standard Coastal Ocean Modeling Framework (COMF) developed by CO-OPS. As a result, WCOFS has direct access to National Weather Service operational meteorological products and real time observations in WCOSS datatank that it needs to run reliably.
For more detailed information about WCOFS, please click here.
For more information about ROMS, please click here.
The West Coast Operational Forecast System (WCOFS) has been implemented by NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) to provide the maritime user community with short-term predictions of water levels, water currents, water temperatures and salinity of the West Coast. WCOFS uses a numerical hydrodynamic model to generate the nowcast and forecast information; therefore, they should be considered as model-generated nowcast and forecast guidance. For more detailed information related to the OFS disclaimer, please visit at the Disclaimers web page.
During extreme weather conditions, water level forecast guidance data are released for public utility and should be used with appropriate caution.