Ocean Wind Warnings

When is an Ocean Wind Warning Issued?

Warnings to shipping on the High Seas are issued whenever gale, storm or hurricane force winds are expected.

The initial warning aims to provide around 24 hours lead-time and warnings are normally renewed every six hours.

What information is included in an Ocean Wind Warning?

Ocean Wind Warnings contain the following information:

  • Issue time
  • Warning information section
  • Information about gusts and maximum wave height
  • Situation
    • Description of weather systems generating the warning conditions with latitude and longitude coordinates
  • Area affected
    • Boundary of warning in latitude and longitude coordinates
  • Forecast
    • Details in winds and seas in the affected areas
  • Issuing office

Who is the target audience?

Ocean Wind Warnings are prepared for mariners involved in commerce and travel on ocean going vessels in the Australian high seas regions. The warnings are available via the web or radio, fax, satellite or via media and other third party broadcasters, publishers and agencies.

What areas do the Ocean Wind Warnings cover?

Ocean wind warning areas

What is meant by the term "METAREA 10"?

For weather forecasts and warnings broadcast under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) the world's oceans are divided into 16 areas of responsibility called "METAREAs". The Bureau of Meteorology is responsible for forecasts and warnings for METAREA 10.
Map of METAREA 10 and adjacent METAREAs.

Wind speed and wave heights

In the tropics, hurricane force winds are associated with severe tropical cyclones (Category 3 and above)

Wave heights can be influenced by the size and movement of the weather system, shallow waters and proximity to the coast.

*Please be aware wind and wave forecasts are averages. Wind gusts can be 40 per cent stronger than the forecast, and stronger still in squalls and thunderstorms. Maximum waves can be twice the forecast height.

Wind speed categories Beaufort scale

Strong wind
26 to 33 knots

Probable wave heights
around 3 to 5 metres

force 6
force 7

34 to 47 knots

Probable wave heights
around 5 to 8 metres

force 8
force 9

Storm force
48 to 63 knots

Probable wave heights
around 8 to 11 metres

force 10
force 11
Hurricane force
64 knots or more
Probable wave heights
around 11 metres or more
force 12

Images courtesy Environment Canada