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- V8V2222 -
HF/SSB radio email and voice services

METAREA Forecasts

METAREA forecasts are available to BBRemail and SailMail subscribers via HF/SSB radio e-mail.

METAREA forecasts contain the official maritime weather forecasts for each region. They include any current weather warnings for high winds or high seas.  They also include advance warning on the potential development of Tropical Storms; critical information for small-craft, island resorts and recreational charter vessels in BRUNEI BAY RADIO's service area.

METAREA forecasts are THE official source of high seas weather information, created by a qualified meteorologist assessing a range of inputs, such as satellite photos, weather radars, weather balloon data, and including the NOAA data used to create GRIB weather charts.

METAREA forecasts are requested by BBRemail and SailMail subscribers using the Catalogs section of the on-board AirMail software that runs the radio email services. The radio email service strips out graphics and compresses the data so it can be quickly and efficiently sent via low-cost radio email.  


Small-craft access to METAREA forecasts under GMDSS:

BRUNEI BAY RADIO undertook a multi-year project of emails, phone calls, personal visits and appeals that eventually resulted in the creation of a website which now makes METAREA forecasts available to all small-craft around the world. This project was necessary because:

  1. When the GMDSS system for ships over 300 tonnes was implemented, many official coast stations around the world closed because they lost the  telephone interconnect traffic and income from large users such as cruise liners and merchant ships. This telephone traffic and income was transferred to the INMARSAT service which these large ships were compelled to fit and use under GMDSS regulations.
     

  2. These official coast stations had previously voice broadcast METAREA forecasts on HF/SSB radio marine channels/frequencies. Large and small vessels were able to hear this important safety information. But with the late 1990's implementation of GMDSS for ships over 300 tonnes, most major coast stations - including Singapore Radio and all of Australia's coast stations - closed. These important safety related METAREA forecasts were no longer voice broadcast in many areas of the world, and instead became available only to vessels which could afford to buy and operate high powered INMARSAT equipment. Millions of small-craft around the world could no-longer gain access to METAREA forecasts.   
     

  3. Many government meteorological services chose to only make their METAREA forecasts available to INMARSAT; for sale via their satellite services for GMDSS certified vessels over 300 tonnes. In the BRUNEI BAY RADIO service area, these countries included India (METAREA 8north - northern Indian Ocean), France (METAREA 8south - southern Indian Ocean) and Japan (METAREA XI - north west Pacific). Only Australia's Bureau of Meteorology made arrangements to ensure the continued availability of their METAREA forecasts to small-craft, via two powerful HF/SSB transmitters with a regular voice broadcast schedule of pre-recorded information, weather fax and by publication on their website.


This problem of small-craft access to METAREA forecasts was particularly alarming for yachts on passage in the southern Indian Ocean. France's meteorological office in Mauritius - the official source of METAREA 8south forecasts - repeatedly refused to make their forecasts available. Repeated requests by
BRUNEI BAY RADIO to receive a copy of the forecast to email to yachts on passage were denied despite helpful approaches to Mauritius by staff from another Met service, and despite World Meteorological Organisation regulations which specify that member countries must give out forecasts when requested.

When BRUNEI BAY RADIO arranged for the crew of an Australian yacht Destiny - stopping in  Mauritius in September 2001 - to visit the met office to explain the problem, they were asked to wait as the officer-in-charge was busy, then after an hour told he was no longer in the office and would not be returning because he'd gone on leave.

This attitude of Mauritius Met Office lead to a serious incident for a 29 foot Belgian yacht on route from Cocos Island to Chagos in November 2001, when they were caught by a Tropical Storm because Mauritius again refused requests to provide their METAREA forecast. This refusal resulted in serious injury to one member of the husband and wife crew. Despite being informed of this life threatening incident and the  clear evidence of the importance of this information to the safety of small-craft and their crews, Mauritius Met Office still refused to provide their METAREA forecast. 

After further BRUNEI BAY RADIO communication with Met authorities in Europe to highlight this particularly serious incident, along with the broader problem of small-craft access to METAREA forecasts created by the GMDSS system,  plus the considerable assistance of a retired UK Met officer, it was the French Met Office - responsible for Mauritius - that decided to establish a website and work to get all other countries around the world which also refused access to their METAREA forecasts for small-craft, to contribute.

In September 2003, the website was sufficiently established for Jim Corenman - the AirMail programmer - to create links to harvest the forecasts  so official METAREA forecast selection could be added to the Catalogs section of AirMail. A very significant achievement for the safety of small-craft owners and crew around the world.

All BBRemail and SailMail HF/SSB radio email subscribers can conveniently receive the METAREA forecasts they need via their HF/SSB radio email service.

The website that now displays all current METAREA forecasts is found at:  http://weather.gmdss.org

To see a map of world METAREAs go to: http://weather.gmdss.org/metareas.html  


Important note regarding standards used in ALL meteorological publications; including METAREA forecasts and GRIB charts.

1. Wind speed refers to the average speed over a 10-minute period. Gusts may be up to 40 percent stronger than the average speed.  (Wind speeds figures are recorded/estimated at 10 metres above the surface.)

2. Wave and swell height information is based on the significant wave heights standard. This is the average of the highest one third of waves. The likely maximum wave height can be up to twice the significant wave height.

 

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Call-sign:
V8V2222    SelCall ID: 2222

For enquiries click here to email BRUNEI BAY RADIO

Brunei Bay Radio 
PO Box 2234
Bandar Seri Begawan  BS8674
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Phn: +673 2 262676     Fax: +673 2 262675

Unit G4, 1st Floor, Bangunan Sungai Akar Central
Simpang 158, Jalan Sungai Akar
Bandar Seri Begawan BC3915
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

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