Meteo mail

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WorldMeteo mail


How dowload meteo products (for example meteofax and others) of the USA National Weather Service (NWS) by e-mail. Like an example these products are very useful for the route trans-atlantic Caribbean to Azore. See THE GALE OF MAY 6 2015 NEAR AZORE ISLANDS

The best way to download the meteo products supplied from the Weather Service of many Nations is to make a Internet connection. In coastal navigation this is easy and not expensive, but to equip a boat to have a Internet connection in offshore navigation is a very expensive matter. For that and other reasons the recreational boats which navigate offshore have on board the SSB (MF/HF) radio. To the links SSB Radio and HF Radio at Sea you can know the technical details involved in installation and use of this type of long distance radio. Here a very pratical discussion with reference to the meteo products of the USA National Weather Service (NWS) and how to download them using the SSB radio. The reason of NWS choice as an example is my personal good knowledge of these products. With them you can navigate in all North Atlantic (and I think also Pacific, but I don't have personnaly experimented) with a super knowledgement of the weather and weather forecasts. To download a product (a file) with SSB radio is a little different from a normal Internet connection: you send by radio an e-mail to the remote server and the server answer with the file you need. GRIB files are a particular case of meteo products and you download also them via mail but are not object of this discussion.

Airmail Software

The most used software for connect your on board computer via SSB Radio and Pactor Modem to the server of NWS is Airmail in both version: Winlink or Sailmail, the first is reserved to the Radio Hams and the connection is free, the second is for all but there is some costs. Inside the software there is a wide catalogue of products, a lot come from NWS and if the product you need is present, sending an e-mail to ask for dowload is a problem of two or three mouse clicks. But not all the products are inside and to download them these pages can be very useful. With the Airmail software you can also make a connection to exchange e-mails with Satellitar Phone. Airmail works also like a standard mail "client" software (for example Outlook), you can exchange e-mail (to receive and to send) from your gmail account or from other provider's accounts. Another usage of Airmail is to get GRIB Files a very powerful computerized method for download automatic generated wheather charts: situation and forecasts.

USA National Weather Service (NWS)

How to know the products ? The NWS ftp server and NOAA server are at your disposal, with Internet access you can go inside the directories and go down and up like in your computer...before to navigate the sea a good rule would be to navigate inside this server ... but now we have only the SSB Radio, then:

First ask for the NWS Mail Help file

Send an e-mail to:
Subject Line: Put anything you like
Body: help

After some minutes (or seconds) the server replays sending you the file ftpmail.txt.

With Internet access you can reach the same file with this link

NWS Atlantic Radiofax Products

Inside this help file there is an index of products for type and for regions, try to download the index of NWS Atlantic Radiofax Products. This file contains the same meteo products which are broadcast from Boston MA Coast Guard Station:

Body of the mail:
cd fax
get rfaxatl.txt

With Internet access you can reach the same file with this link

Inside the text of rfaxatl.txt there are a lot of product. The most importants, in my opinion, in a transatlantic navigations from Europe to USA and return and along the USA East Cost are:

  • Surface Analysis Chart, Part 2, 40W-95W Northern Hemisphere: PYAA12.TIF
  • 24HR Surface Chart VT12Z Forecast 40W-98W Northern Hemisphere: PPAE10.TIF
  • 48HR Surface Chart VT12Z Forecast 10E-95W Northern Hemisphere: QDTM10.TIF
  • 96HR Surface Chart VT12Z Forecast 10E-95W Northern Hemisphere: PWAM99.TIF
  • Tropical Cyclone Danger Area
  • (Most Current): PWEK11.TIF

to download via mail (pay attention to lower case, upper case letters!):

cd fax
get PYAA12.TIF
get PPAE10.TIF
get QDTM10.TIF
get PWEK11.TIF

With Internet access you can reach the same files with this link ... With Internet access you can reach the same files with this link

NWS Coastal Forecasts For The Atlantic Zone

Now download the index of Coastal Forecasts for the Atlantic Zone: marine5.txt

cd fax
get marine5.txt

inside marine5.txt we can read the file's name for the Forecasts of New York Harbour: anz338.txt and the directory's name, to download:

cd data
cd forecasts
cd marine
cd coastal
cd an
get anz338.txt

With Internet access you can reach marine5.txt with this link and anz338.txt with this link


I have presented some examples, just to explain the method, now go on yourselves to find and to download the products you need.

Note: The server used to download the file with the Internet access is Government Pubs, the server to which we have sent the e-mails is FTP. Beyond theoretical consideration I have pratically noted that the first works better with the Internet access. In any case it is also possible to use the second. The directories's hierarchy of the two server is the same (or the server is the same with two different link ? I am not a computer expert).


A dramatical example of poor utilization of meteo products.

This chart referred to the Gale day may 6
B1 boats position may 2
B2 boats position in the Gale may 6
B3 position where the boats have the time to escape

In may,6 2015 on the route trans-atlantic Caribbean to Azore, in a big Gale, a 6 years child died and five yacht were evacuated by elicopters and by ships and the boats obviously missed: here the details.

The two images sideways are trasmitted via meteofax, but is possible to dowload it by e-mail as above explained; the name is PWAM99.TIF. This chart, referred to the day of the Gale may 6, was issued FOUR DAYS BEFORE I.E. MAY 2. The boats had four days to escape the Gale, a small yacht can sail from 400 to 500 nm in four days; the GALE was moving easterly very fast at 500 nm per day and the boats had no hope manteining the route towards the Azore.

But there is a but ... see the second image with the position B1 of the boat in may 2 and the position B2 in may 6. They already can have all the informations to escape South or South East at the position B3 where the wind is high but not 50 knots. Another possibility was to wait in the position B1 ... a choice almost difficult...but life-saver also this. Why they go stright? Naturally with the suggested life-saver tactics they must sail two or three days more to reach the Azore but the child will be alive and the five boat were not missed.....

For better understanding I show in the next six image the weather situation in the four days preceding the gale: GRIB1, GRIB2, GRIB3, GRIB4 and in the day of the gale: GRIB5 and GRIB6. The line red is the boats route, the line blu the suggested route to escape the gale. In all the four days preceding the gale the boats can sail where they want without problems. In may 6 the gale arrives....and the boats where in the correct B2 position to take the maximum gale impact !
I was in the same trans-atlantic route in the same days, in GRIB6 my position during the gale (Danbag Sailboat favicon.png LE CROCIERE DI SHAULA).

GRIB1 issued may 2 06 UTC, valid may 2 00 UTC
B1 MAY 2 boats position when the gale warning was issued
GRIB2 issued may 2 06 UTC, valid may 3 00 UTC
BOATS MAY 3 with north winds 15-20 knots
GRIB3 issued may 4 06 UTC, valid may 4 00 UTC
BOATS MAY 4 with variables winds about 10 knots
GRIB4 issued may 4 06 UTC, valid may 5 00 UTC
BOATS MAY 5 with south winds 15-20 knots and 25 knots in suggested escape position
GRIB5 issued may 5 06 UTC, valid may 6 00 UTC
B2 MAY 6 boats position during the gale
the small violet flag means 50 knots winds
also in escape position the wind is high: 30 knots, but 30 are not 50, and they were good running winds
GRIB6 issued may 5 06 UTC, valid may 6 00 UTC
with summary of situation and
the position of Danbag Sailboat favicon.png LE CROCIERE DI SHAULA the gale's day

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Names: Danbag

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