About the Interactive Map Viewer

Glossary of Terms

How do I use the Interactive Map Viewer?

The Interactive Weather and Wave Forecast Map Viewer may be used to display images of computer-generated forecast data for up to the next 7 days.

The maps are produced from computer models. As they contain no input from weather forecasters, they do not include any symbols, such as cold fronts. For weather maps generated by Forecasters, view the Bureau of Meteorology official weather maps for the next 4 days.

Areas of white colour on the wave maps indicate no data. The wave model may divide the Combined Sea and Swell heights into the Primary swell, Secondary swell or Wind Wave maps, resulting in these "no data" areas on the map. It is recommended that users refer to the Combined Sea and Swell maps for information about the total wave height.

Selecting and Displaying Maps

The Map Viewer allows you to select the map you are interested in seeing by choosing from several lists of:

  • the weather or ocean element to show,
  • preferred Time Zone,
  • your geographic area of interest, and
  • the Time Period you are interested in, out to 7 days.
  • Additionally, some atmospheric data types require a choice of Level (vertical level in the atmosphere).

The first list, entitled "Show:" allows you to choose the type of map you wish to view. There are 7 different types of atmospheric prediction maps (Surface pressure and Precipitation, Surface Pressure & Thickness, Wind Speed and Direction, Geopotential Height, Temperature, Relative Humidity, Dew Point) and 5 different types of ocean-wave prediction maps (Combined Sea and Swell, Primary Swell Wave Component, Secondary Swell Wave Component, Wind Wave Height, Swell Period).


Upper air charts are available for several weather elements. The levels available in the maps are predefined based on atmospheric Pressure at several standard heights.


Select the preferred time zone for the viewer. This selection will be retained for future use.

Times listed under each day will reflect the chosen time zone, e.g. Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), however the times shown on the maps in the heading will always be time-stamped in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).


Multiple viewing areas are available. For most area options, maps are available for the next 7 days, however for ome area options maps are only available for 3 days


The list of periods available varies depending on the Area selected, but will generally be a combination of a maximum period of 3 or 7 days and interval of either 3 or 6 hours.

The maps are displayed in time order, with the first map being for the model's "base" or "analysis" time (the time of the weather observations which form the starting point for the model's predictions), followed by maps at 3 or 6 hour intervals, depending on the particular model and area chosen. Some views start with small time intervals for the first few days and with larger time intervals for the remaining days.

Numerical model prognosis maps may be labelled with the time at which the forecast is valid or with a +012 hr, +024 hr, +036 hr, +048 hr, +072 hr etc from the base observation time (represented by the letter “t”) for that run of the model. Generally the models are run twice daily, with their initial analyses being at 00UTC and 12UTC.

The time steps of the map being displayed is shown in the date/time bar just under the animation controls. You can also jump to a map for any time step by selecting a different time in the time bar.

Refresh View

By pressing the “Generate” button, the viewer then generates maps based on the selections. Those maps are then available for viewing in chronological order.

The generated map settings can be "bookmarked" (saved as a favourite) in your web browser, so that you can display your preferred maps quickly next time you return to the viewer.

Note: The maps are updated regularly during the day. As a result, a given time step (for instance, the fourth time step in the series), could fall at a different time of day depending on the base time for the most recent model run.

Displaying the maps as an Animation

Once the first map is displayed, it is possible to use the animation controls above the maps to move forwards and backwards in time through the maps.

Step back: Go back to the previous map in the time sequence
Step forward: Go forward to the next map in the time sequence
Stop: s Stop the animated display of the maps
Play: Start the animated display of the maps

Note that Javascript must be enabled in your web browser for the animation to function. If you do not see the Stop and Play controls in your browser, confirm that JavaScript is enabled in your browser.

About the Maps

The maps are used as guidance for the Bureau's official forecasts. The Bureau's forecasters all around Australia use these maps every day in conjunction with other data sources to prepare and issue the official regular weather and ocean forecasts and warnings for every Australian state and territory.

These maps are useful for those interested in a detailed view of the forecast conditions across the Australian region or globally for the atmosphere and ocean.

What is the data source for the maps?

The maps are generated from the Bureau's ACCESS and AUSWAVE computer models to represent a variety of atmosphere and ocean characteristics. The maps showing the state of the atmosphere use the Bureau's ACCESS atmospheric modelling system while those showing the state of ocean waves use the Bureau's AUSWAVE ocean modelling system.

For more detailed information about the ACCESS or AUSWAVE models, please refer to About the ACCESS model or About the AUSWAVE model.