What is Dial-A-Buoy?
Dial-A-Buoy gives mariners an easy
way to obtain weather reports when away from a computer/the
Internet. Wind and wave measurements taken within the last hour at
buoy and coastal weather stations operated by NDBC and a growing
number of Integrated
Ocean Observing System (IOOSŪ) partners can be heard using a
cell phone. NDBC, a part of the National Weather Service (NWS),
created Dial-A-Buoy in 1997. In 2007, NDBC and the National Ocean
Service's Center for Operational Ocean Products and Services (NOS/CO-OPS)
jointly implemented a replacement for the original system which
had operated well beyond its expected life cycle. The new system
is an extension of the Great
Lakes Online service that NOS/CO-OPS is expanding to include
its National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON)
Large numbers of boaters use the
observations, in combination with forecasts, to make decisions on
whether it is safe to venture out. Some even claim that the
reports have saved lives. Surfers use the reports to see if wave
conditions are, or will soon be, promising. Many of these boaters
and surfers live well inland, and knowing the conditions has saved
them many wasted trips to the coast.
Buoy reports include wind direction,
speed, gust, significant wave height, swell and wind-wave heights
and periods, air temperature, water temperature, and sea level
pressure. Some buoys report wave directions. Coastal weather
stations report the winds, air temperature, and pressure; some
also report wave information, water temperature, visibility, and
How do I use
To access Dial-A-Buoy, dial 888-701-8992
using any touch tone or cell phone. Assuming you know the
identifier of the station whose report you need, press
"1". In response to the prompt, enter the five-digit (or
character) station identifier. (For coastal stations whose
identifiers contain both letter characters and numbers, use the
number key containing the letter - for the letter "Q",
press "7"; for "Z", press "9"; etc.)
The system will ask you to confirm that your entry was correct by
pressing "1". After a few seconds, you will hear the
latest buoy or C-MAN observation read via computer-generated
voice. At the end, the system will prompt you to press
"1" to hear the report again, or "2" to
continue with other options.
Dial-A-Buoy also can read the latest
NWS marine forecast for most station locations. The system will
prompt you to press "2" to continue after the
observation is read, then "1" to hear the forecast. You
can jump to the forecast before the end of the station report by
pressing "21" during the reading of the station
When you are finished with
Dial-A-Buoy, press 9 or simply hang-up!
There are several ways to find the
station locations and identifiers. For Internet users, maps
showing buoy locations are given at http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/
. Telephone users can press "2" at the beginning of the
call to be prompted for a latitude and longitude and receive the
closest station locations and identifiers.
When you become familiar with the
system, you do not have to wait for the prompts. For example, you
can can press "1420071" as soon as you begin to hear the
welcome message to hear the report from station 42007.
The Dial-A-Buoy system does not
actually dial into a buoy or C-MAN station. The phone calls are
answered by a computer that controls the dialog and reads the
observations and forecasts from NDBC's web site.
some problems with Dial-A-Buoy?
How do I enter characters for a
Characters are entered simply by pressing the key containing the
character. For Q, press "7", and for Z, press
"9". For example, to enter CHLV2, press the keys 24582.
How do I quit Dial-A-Buoy?
How do I hear the observations for
another station? When you are
finished hearing the observation or forecast, the system will
prompt you to press "1" to hear it again or '2' to
continue. The second option will be to press "2" to
enter a new station identifier. You can jump to the new station
prompt before the end of the station report by pressing
"221" during the reading of the station conditions.
you press 22 at most points in the call, Dial-A-Buoy will take you
back to the beginning dialog.