Try Premium Free Now Sign In

Marine Buoys and Virtual Buoy®

If you don't have a real marine buoy nearby, a Virtual Buoy® is the next best thing, even better in some ways! It is a wave model prediction of a marine buoy report. Wave height, wave direction, wind speed, wind direction and period are extracted from NOAA WAVEWATCHII model and displayed like a marine buoy report. From the report, you are able to estimate the current wind and swell conditions and get a seven day marine buoy report forecast.

Virtual Buoys bring quality marine weather forecasts to remote areas of the world, just as if there was a real marine buoy right there. A global set of Virtual Buoys are freely available on Buoyweather as a public service. This is now a necessity! These point specific marine buoy forecasts are precisely what you need to safely plan your marine activities.

Virtual Buoy® Display Options:

7 Day Graph V2

Nowcast and 7 day text forecast with all of the data plotted in bar charts.

7 Day Graph

The free Virtual Buoy® report. The graphs are made with HTML tables. A nice clean display we have used for several years. Loads fast.

Text Tables

Formatted text tables. Buoyweather subscribers can receive this via daily email.

The forecasts go out at 6-hour intervals for 7 days. Both WAVEWATCHIII & GFS model update 4 times per day.

WAVEWATCHIII Ocean Variables:


The low number is the significant wave height provided by the model. The average of the highest 1/3 waves. This is an average and may not be highest wave you will see. The upper end of the range is 1.5 X significant height. This is closer to the largest swell you may encounter during the six hour forecast period. You should be prepared to deal with this if you are planning to go out.

Peak Period

(seconds) The interval between wave crests measured in seconds. Large, short period (<12 sec) swells can mean danger to a small craft. Long period swells mean opportunity for surfers.

Peak Direction

(degrees) The direction of the peak period swell. This is rarely the only swell present. There can be many swells crossing a single point in the Ocean at the same time. The peak direction shows the direction of the swell with the most energy.

Wind Speed and Direction

This gives you the overall wind flow. For points near land, you may have to make further interpretation to adjust for local topography and land/sea breezes. You will often see the prevailing wind pattern in the graphs with light winds in the morning and afternoon sea breezes.


Surf is what happens when swell hits shallow water and breaks. For points near land, the swell height and period are used to derive a surf height forecast. This is useful if you are diving, fishing, surfing, or navigating a pass. The surf range is the front face heights in feet. It can be tough to make this conversion where reefs, islands or points are blocking the swell. The logic works like this - if a shoreline is exposed to the swell direction indicated, you should see at least the lower end of the surf range. If a shoreline is perfectly exposed to the swell direction indicated, you might see the upper end of the range.

For more information about the WAVEWATCH model, check out NOAA/NCEP/OMB WAVEWATCHIII home page.

The GFS model provides data for land and sea areas. If you are over land, in the Mediterranean or Red Sea, these are the forecasts you need to use. We have two meteogram files based on NOAA's GFS model:

GFS & NAM Text

A text version of a meteogram email is available. Plus it loads fast. This forecast can be very useful whether in the tropics or in the mountains. Most of the variables are self explanatory

LI stands for Lifted Index. Here is the general interpretation:

LI values greater than 0 mean thunderstorms are unlikely
LI values between 0 and -2 mean thunderstorms are possible
LI values between -3 and -5 mean thunderstorms are probable
LI values less than -5 mean a strong potential for severe thunderstorms

CP is the Convective Available Potential Energy(CAPE) divided by 100 to save space. Here is the general interpretation for the numbers in this forecast:

CP values between 3 and 10 mean weak thunderstorm activity
CP values between 10 and 25 mean moderate thunderstorm activity
CP values between 25 and 53 mean strong thunderstorm activity

The T-STORM column reads the LI and CP for each time to determine the thunderstorm likeliness.

Long Range Virtual Buoy® Forecasts

Buoyweather premium members get fast, easy access to long range marine weather information, click for the details!

Buoyweather premium members receive instant 7-day marine weather forecasts, and dynamic weather charts tailored to your location. Each marine weather buoy report comes with a complete set of marine charts made for your selected point(s); including wave data, wind speed, surface pressure, precipitation, air temp, humidity, dew temp and much more.

Why wait? Join now and become a Buoyweather premium member today.