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Wind forecasts – now more detailed and reliable

Wind forecasts – now more detailed and reliable

Meteorologists from the Bureau are now producing improved wind forecasts thanks to new forecasting system being implemented around Australia. Wind forecasting in coastal waters areas are often criticised because of the wide area they cover (out to 60 nautical miles offshore), and due to the highly changeable conditions between inshore and offshore areas.

Higher resolution forecasts

The Bureau's new approach provides wind forecasts using a 6-kilometre grid, covering coastal areas and out to 60 nautical miles.

Our forecasters constantly monitor wind observations, analyse a range of computer models and combine their experience to provide a more detailed picture of the winds. Boaters value information about local wind effects and sea breezes which computer models find difficult to represent.

At low wind speeds, local wind flows are still tricky to forecast along coastal areas, but our forecasts get better as wind speed increases. This is obviously important in enabling us to issue appropriate wind warnings, as shown in the comparison below.

Left: Wind forecast for Gippsland Lakes from a computer model. Wind speeds are 29 knots (green) at Lakes Entrance. Right: Wind forecast for Gippsland Lakes created by our meteorologists. Note the higher (blue) wind speeds of 35 knots over the lake area.

In the comparison above, some small boat owners following the computer model may have decided to go out on the lakes. With our improvements, a gale wind warning would be issued and those same small boat owners would have stayed safely on land.

More reliable forecasts

We have compared wind observations from suitable coastal locations against our corresponding grid forecast. Daily checks show that our forecasts are within 5 knots and 45 degrees in over 80% of our forecasts.

Last year, we issued over 9000 wind warnings for Australia’s coastline. We also measure the accuracy of our gale strength wind warnings (winds over 34 knots). Analysis from the Sydney Harbour area highlighted that almost 90% of our gale wind warnings were correct.

Use our wind forecasts

Wind forecasts and warnings are two of the five vital checks before going boating. See either:

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