Forecasts and observations

Blue Sail Image

Each year the Bureau issues over 18,000 marine forecasts for 78 coastal waters zones covering 37,000 kilometres of Australia’s coastline. Our marine forecasts are regularly broadcast on marine radio to keep boaters informed of approaching weather.

Marine forecasts

Marine forecasts are issued at least twice daily and monitored continuously by forecasters. Updates may be issued at other times if conditions change significantly.

Marine weather forecasts include information on wind, weather, sea and swell and describe the average conditions over specified areas.

  • Local waters forecasts are for areas such as bays, harbours and inland waters on which frequent boating activity occurs.

  • Coastal waters forecasts are for areas within 60 nautical miles of the coast (see map of coastal waters zones).

  • High seas forecasts are issued twice daily for the broader ocean areas surrounding Australia (see map of high seas areas).

Further information about our marine forecasts.

Terms used to describe the time of day in our forecasts:

Early in the morning: Expected to occur before 7am.
In the morning: Expected to occur between 1am and 11am.
In the late morning: Expected to occur between 9am and midday.
During early afternoon: Expected to occur between 12pm and 4pm.
During the afternoon: Expected to occur between 1pm and 9pm.
In the evening: Expected to occur between 6pm and midnight.
Later in the evening: Expected to occur after 9pm.

Marine observations

Coastal weather stations provide frequent observations of wind speed, wind gust and temperature. Checking nearby observations before you go out and during boating will enhance your safety. Radar and satellite can also be used to track weather systems such as fronts, troughs and tropical cyclones.

When using wind observations, it is important to remember most coastal stations are located on land so wind speeds may be unrepresentative of the actual wind conditions at sea. The reasons for this include:

  • Wind speeds are generally higher over water because the wind is not slowed by the roughness of land surfaces containing trees, hills and buildings.

  • Winds on the coast may be influenced by inshore sea and land breezes.

Some stations are at some distance inland from the coast but have been included as they provide some helpful information in areas where there are no other coastal weather stations.

Tide predictions

Tide heights and times are available for primary locations with local tide measurements. These tide predictions may be used for navigation.

However, for some locations, only tide times are available (not heights). These Secondary locations should not be used for navigation purposes.

Tide predictions are based on the astronomical influences with some seasonal effects. Actual water levels are also affected by local weather, wind and wave conditions.

See: Tide Predictions for Australia, South Pacific and Antarctica

Marine services for offshore yacht races

Every day, the Bureau of Meteorology's routine marine and ocean service provides critical wind, wave and ocean information that will assist racing yachts plan for a safe journey.

See: Marine services for offshore yacht races

Marine services for surfing

Every day, surfers rely on wind and wave forecasts to plan the best time to go surfing at their favourite spot.

See: Check the weather before you go surfing

Weather and ocean information support for Search and Rescue

Weather and ocean information play a vital role in supporting Search and Rescue operations.

See: Weather and Ocean information support for Search and Rescue

Services for inland waters

Forecast wind wave heights are available for Australia's significant inland waters. Visit MetEye and select 'wind wave height' under Waves Forecasts to see three-hourly forecasts for the next four days. MetEye also shows wind, rainfall, temperature, UV, and other forecasts relevant to activities on inland waters.

Accessing Information

There are a number of communication methods available to check Bureau marine services, forecasts, warnings and observations:

  • MarineLite: Includes High Seas, Coastal and Local Waters forecasts and warnings in text-only format, making them both faster, more affordable and more accessible for slow data links. Each MarineLite product version is less than 4Kb in size – 95 per cent lighter than the same web pages on the Bureau’s main website.

  • VHF voice radio: Inshore, broadcasts at scheduled times, provided by local marine organisations.

  • HF voice radio: Off-shore, broadcast continuously 24/7, provided by the Bureau

  • Inmarsat: Global satellite communications for high seas warnings and forecasts, some coastal forecasts, provided by the Bureau for Australian high seas and coastal areas.

  • Telephone weather services: Pre-recorded Coastal and Local Waters forecasts and warnings for each State/Territory.

The Bureau’s website may also be checked when within range of mobile service.



Terminology, education and communications services

learn more