Marine program weather service standards: chapter 2


2.0 The Marine Forecast and Warning Program

The MSC’s marine forecast and warning program offers a variety of products and services and involves two primary components: the national program; and the METAREAs program. The national program includes all marine areas within Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (including several major inland lakes and rivers), while the METAREAs program includes only those marine areas in Canada’s northern and Arctic marine regions, as well as international waters within the Arctic Ocean (which extend to the North Pole).

2.1 National Program Component (Canadian waters):

MSC’s national marine weather forecasts describe the anticipated weather conditions in Canadian marine environments for the next five day period. A short-term two day marine forecast provides detailed information related to marine weather alerts (i.e. warnings and watches), as well as wind, weather, visibility, and wave heights. While a three-day extended marine forecast contains just wind information to aid mariners in making longer-range planning decisions. Forecast issue times vary from region to region.

To supplement the marine forecasts, three additional products are also available: Technical Marine Synopses, which give an overview of major weather systems affecting the area; Marine Weather Statements, which are used to provide additional information regarding non-routine, non-alert type, marine weather events; and Marine Weather Advisories, which provide information about non-routine alert-type marine weather events.

MSC’s marine warning program is intended to provide an effective warning service to alert mariners to particularly hazardous marine meteorological conditions (i.e. gale-force winds, freezing spray, waterspouts, etc.) that may pose a hazard to marine operations. Marine alerts are placed in effect immediately upon the need becoming apparent, based on the expected or observed marine weather conditions. This may, at times, require updated marine forecast bulletins to be issued outside their regularly scheduled times.

Marine Forecast and Warnings. See full description below.
  • Image 1. Marine Forecasts and Warnings for Canada. Click for more details.

    This is a sample map of the Marine Forecasts and Warnings for Canada. To view real-time alerts, please see the Weather.gc.ca Marine section. In this example, there are several alerts issued.

    Warnings issued for the following Canadian marine sections:

    • Pacific Coast (excluding Georgia Basin)
    • Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
    • St. Lawrence River, Lake Saint-Jean, Saguenay River, Lake Memphrémagog - northern half, Richelieu River and Northern Lake Champlain
    • Newfoundland waters

    Watches issued for the following Canadian marine sections:

    • Manitoba Lakes (Lake Winnipegosis, Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg)
    • Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon and Lake of the Woods

    Advisories issued for the following Canadian marine sections:

    • Labrador waters
    Colours used for different marine alert types
    Colour Meaning
     Red Square Red: region with a marine warning in effect
     Yellow Square Yellow: region with a marine watch in effect
     Grey Square Grey: region with a marine advisory in effect
     Blue Square Blue: region with no marine warning or watch in effect
     Hurricane Icon Hurricane icon: Tropical Cyclone statement

2.2 METAREAs Program Component (METAREAs waters):

METAREAs are geographical sea regions, as defined by the IMO and World Meteorological Organization (WMO), for the purpose of coordinating the transmission of meteorological Maritime Safety Information (met MSI), in the form of marine weather forecasts and warnings, to mariners navigating international and territorial waters. As a participating member state of the IMO, Canada agreed to act as the Issuing Service for the provision of met MSI for METAREA XVII, XVIII and more recently for the Hudson Bay and Approaches portion of METAREA IV. Consequently, the MSC was given the mandate to facilitate a marine forecast and warning program for these METAREA regions.

MSC’s METAREAs program is tailored to ensure compliance with the relevant international standards for this type of service. METAREAs marine forecast bulletins are issued twice-daily at regularly scheduled times during the Arctic shipping season, and consist of a detailed description of expected marine weather conditions over a two-day period. Marine weather parameters of paramount interest to mariners such as wind, visibility, waves, and sea ice conditions are included in the METAREAs marine forecast bulletins.

To supplement the marine forecast information, a technical marine synopsis describing significant synoptic weather systems affecting the METAREAs district is included with the METAREAs marine forecast bulletin.

In addition, MSC will alert mariners to potentially hazardous marine weather conditions, such as storms or freezing spray, within the METAREAs by placing the appropriate warnings in effect for the affected marine areas. These warnings are included in the METAREAs marine forecast bulletins to indicate areas where potentially hazardous marine weather conditions are expected or occurring.

Marine warnings are placed in effect immediately upon the need becoming apparent, based on the expected or observed marine weather conditions. This may, at times, require updated METAREAs forecast bulletins to be issued outside their regularly scheduled times.

METAREAs. See full description below.
Image 2. Map of METAREAs XVII & XVIII. Click to see coordinates.

METAREA XVII - From 67°00' N 168°58' W to 90°00' N along the 168°58' W meridian, thence southward along the 120°00' W meridian to the Canadian coastline near 69°30'N 120°00' W, thence westward following the coastline, thence westward from the Alaskan coast along 67°00' N back to 67°00' N 168°58' W.

METAREA XVIII - From the Canadian coastline near 69°30'N 120°00' W to 90°00' N along the 120°00' W meridian, thence from 90°00' N to the Greenland coast along the 035°00' W meridian, thence southward following the Greenland coastline to 67°00' N, thence westward back to the 120°00' W meridian where it intersects the Canadian coastline near 69°30'N 120°00' W.

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