Special Marine Warnings

News: I am presently testing this for the East Coast, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes forecast offices. Expect to provide service for these areas by December.


This is a free service provided by Capt. Mike whereby you receive the National Weather Service "Special Marine Warnings" by Short Messaging Service(SMS) on your cell phone; also known as "texting".

The NWS issues these warnings generally based on Doppler radar data. The warnings are generally issued within two minutes, rarely more than 10 from the time that they notice some storm conditions showing on the Doppler radar.

The SMS that you receive is limited to 160 characters of data and the NWS message is generally 1500 to 2000 characters in length. It is necessary for my computer program to truncate the information in order that you get the SMS quickly. In my testing I have generally been getting the SMS's within two minutes of the NWS issuing the warning. I am not aware of and did a great deal of research trying to find a commercial service that offers this. So, I was forced to write my own server. I have no plans to charge for this. But, I make no warranties, as there are simply too many ways where my computer program could fail to send you the warning. Understand that I use this and built it primarily for myself and you can be sure that I depend upon it to warn of dangerous storm conditions that are not in the normal day to day predictions.

What you get in the SMS: you get the the forecast office name(spelled out), the NWS header with forecast office code, the date and time in UTC(Grenwich), not local time(this may be fixed later. Plus a link to the NWS web page with the complete NWS Special Marine Warning text. Also, another link that brings you to this page of explanations.

The header looks like ths: /O.NEW.KEKA.MA.W.0030.161016T1546Z-161016T1630Z/

The SMS looks similar to this: SDIEGO Help: //tinyurl.com/z5poa36 Data: //tgftp.nws.noaa.gov/data/raw/wh/whus56.ksgx.smw.sgx.txt

The TINYURL saves space, the HELP links to this page. The DATA links to the NWS web site and the full data message.

Some notes and warnings. If you don't have internet access at the time you get the SMS then the links in the SMS won't be useable and you won't know much about the details of the warning. But, at least you will have the warning. I have the same issues so don't think you are getting any less than what I get. If you don't have the details and you have phone service but not data, then call the weather forecast office or the Coast Guard and request the information. If the phone is not working, then call the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 and ask for the information in case they did not or are not about to broadcast it. They should be getting the warnings and broadcasting them. Frankly, I want to know about such storms even if they are way beyond the local forecast area.

Which brings us to the forecast office areas. If you click on the link it will bring up the latest Special Marine Warning, which may be up to a year or more old. On October 1, 2016 the latest SMW from Portland had been dated in September 2015, a year earlier. During the weekend of Oct. 15 the Seattle, Portland, Medford and Eureka offices issued about 20 such warnings.

Seattle: Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, Strait of Juan De Fuca and the entire outer Washington coast as far south as Cape Shoalwater.

Portland: Cape Shoalwater (Washington) to Florence, Oregon.

Medford: Florence, Oregon to Pt. Saint George, Calif.

Eureka: Pt. Saint George, Calif. to Pt. Arena, Calif.

Monterey: Pt. Arena to Piedras Blancas, Calif.

Los Angeles: Piedras Blancas to San Mateo Pt.

San Diego: San Mateo Pt. to Mexican Border

Sample Special Marine Warning


You may email or send me a request to be put on the subscription list:

specialmarinewarning @ yachtsdelivered.com

be sure to leave out the spaces which are to stop spam.

I need your cell phone number, and indicate which forecast offices you want warnings for. Be sure to include ANY and all the forecast offices that you might want warnings for.

I have to enter these numbers by hand so don't expect instant results. I have an experimental feature where a second SMS is sent immediately after the first, it contains enough information to know where the storm is and where it is going. Below is a sample. Indicate if you want this secondary message. In general anyone with a cell phone provider from the majors like Verizon, AT&T, US Cellular, TMobile will get the secondary message as there is no cost to me.

WtrSpouts AND WND 40 KT.22

I am thinking of sending out a test message each month just so we all know that the system is working. Be aware that there are often many months when no warnings are issued, anywhere on the coast.



Privacy: I don't pass your cell phone numbers to others, they are used soley to send the SMS messages. My server is reasonably secure, the phone numbers are only accessible by the super user, the SMS messages are sent over encyrpted sockets. My email provider encrypts from end to end, but that does not necessarily include your cell phone provider, but most do.

Earthquake SMS messages from the USGS.

Tsunami Warnings by SMS


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