Marine Weather Information
“Atlantic Canada has some of the most complex and unpredictable weather in the world.”
Weather ForecastsAtlantic Canada lies on the track of several major weather systems: systems that track down the St Lawrence Valley; systems that come out of the central USA (Ohio Valley systems); and systems which track up the US East Coast. Given the inexactness in forecasting the individual systems themselves, forecasting which system will have the major effect is difficult. Throw in the the effects of the cold Labrador Current, the warm Gulf Stream, the occasional hurricane or tropical storm, and the Cape Breton Highlands—which can create strong winds of their own with little warning—you can begin to understand why our weather is so changeable and unpredictable. Les Suêtes Winds, which affect the western and northern coast of the Cape Breton Highlands (Margaree Harbour to Bay St Lawrence), are not to be taken lightly.
Environment Canada issues marine forecasts for the Maritimes at approximately 0300, 1000, 1530, and 2000 hrs. Forecasts may be 'revised' at any time as weather systems evolve. Prudent cruisers will keep a close eye on the weather and avail themselves of the latest forecast. Up-to-the-minute information is vital to safety at sea.
Weather Guides :: Guides de météo
- Atlantic Regional Marine Weather Guide (lo-res, 12 MB) ♦ Guide de météo marine régional pour l'Atlantique (12 Mo)
- Atlantic Regional Marine Weather Guide (hi-res, 144 MB) ♦ Guide de météo marine régional pour l'Atlantique (140 Mo)
- Met 101: National Marine Weather Manual (lo-res, 20 MB) ♦ Met 101: Guide de météo marine national (20 Mo)
- Met 101: National Marine Weather Manual (hi-res, 54 MB) ♦ Met 101: Guide de météo marine national (54 Mo)
Marine forecasts are designed primarily for use in offshore waters. However, much of the cruiser's sailing is done near shore. The marine forecast is a good starting point when trying to gauge coastal wind effects because local winds are influenced by open-ocean winds. Met 101 is essential to understanding the Atlantic Regional Marine Weather Guide. Met 101: Chapter 2,Wind, explains the large variety of factors which can affect winds near the coast, and will help you understand why winds you encountered were not in the forecast.
Weatheradio Canada, operated by Environment Canada's Meteorological Service, broadcasts continuously on Marine VHF channels WX1 – WX7, providing marine and terrestrial forecasts in English and French. Each transmitter gives the marine forecast and outlook for a few marine areas local to the transmitter. The following should be taken into consideration:
- Reception may be poor or impossible in many of the sheltered harbours and anchorages around our coastline and on the Bras d'Or Lakes. Frequently a distant transmitter, on Prince Edward Island or Magdalen Islands, will come through more clearly than a local transmitter.
- Currently only WX1, WX2, and WX3 are used on Cape Breton. Introduction of the other channels will help reduce the cross‑station interference. The Cape Breton Island transmissions include the forecast for the Bras d'Or Lakes System.
- A chart showing the marine forecast areas is provided below.
- For those unfamiliar with the local area, a road (terrestrial) map of the province(s) may be of benefit in understanding the station locations, forecasts, weather reports, and severe weather warnings.
- Transmitters serving Cape Breton Island are shown in bold type in the table below. Their locations can be seen by clicking on the map below.
- Due to the limited scope of the marine segment of the transmissions, cruisers may find the Canadian Coast Guard Radio transmissions more useful. See Weatheradio vs CCG Radio
CCGR VHF Continuous Marine Broadcast
In Nova Scotia, Canadian Coast Guard Radio (CCGR) operates continuous marine broadcasts (CMB), in both English and French, on VHF Ch‑21B(WX8) and Ch‑83B(WX9), depending on the area. The following should be noted:
- You will need to set your VHF radio to ‘International’ to receive Ch‑21B and Ch‑83B.
CCGR also uses Ch‑23B, Ch‑25B and Ch‑28B in other areas.
- The CMB includes Notices to Shipping, and Notices to Fish Harvesters, and other information as appropriate to the area. You may have to listen for a long time to receive a forecast in your preferred language. (Bilingualism is an asset!)
- There seems to be no set times for switching languages.
- The marine forecast includes the technical synopsis and the outlook for several days.
- A chart showing the marine forecast areas is provided below.
- Reception may be poor or impossible in many of the sheltered harbours and anchorages around our coastline, as only transmitters located at Cape North, Port Caledonia (Glace Bay), and Montague (PE) serve Cape Breton.
- If unable to receive from a CMB transmitter, call Sydney CGR on Ch‑16, and request the forecast be read to you. The operators are extremely helpful and can usually communicate with you via one of their other transmitter sites.
CCGR MF-SSB Broadcasts
Cruisers with single sideband (SSB) radio may take advantage of the MF‑SSB broadcasts from CCGR. In some well-protected anchorages these broadcasts may be your only source of weather information. The forecasts include a technical synopsis and the marine outlook for several days, and cover a wider area than VHF Weatheradio. The broadcasts give the forecast in the predominant language (English or French) of the area first, followed by the other language, before the Notices to Shipping and Notices to Fish Harvesters. The table below provides information on these broadcasts, and indicates if they give information for the marine areas bordering Cape Breton Island (Cabot Strait, Forchu, Gulf-Magdalen, and Northumberland Strait). Transmission is on upper sideband. Each station transmits only four times per day.
|MF WEATHER BROADCAST – ATLANTIC CANADA|
|Station||Freq (kHz)||Forecast Areas||Cabot
|0437||0137||Les Escoumins||✔||✔||215 – 221, 301, 302||✔||✔||✔|
|0737||0437||Placentia||✔||231 – 236|
|0740||0440||Sydney||✔||209, 213 – 218, 231, 232||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|0807||0507||Port-aux-Basques||✔||215, 217, 219, 220 – 232, 235||✔||✔|
|0810||0510||Halifax||✔||201 – 214||✔|
|0847||0547||Les Escoumins||✔||✔||215 – 221, 301, 302||✔||✔||✔|
|1040||0740||Halifax (Fundy)||✔||201 – 214||✔|
|1407||1107||Les Escoumins||✔||✔||215 – 221, 301, 302||✔||✔||✔|
|1440||1140||Sydney||✔||209, 213 – 218, 231, 232||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|1507||1207||Port-aux-Basques||✔||215, 217, 219, 220 – 232, 235||✔||✔|
|1540||1240||Halifax||✔||201 – 214||✔|
|1607||1307||Placentia||✔||231 – 236|
|1640||1340||Halifax (Fundy)||✔||201 – 214||✔|
|2010||1710||Sydney||✔||209, 213 – 218, 231, 232||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|2040||1740||Halifax (Fundy)||✔||201 – 214||✔|
|2107||1807||Port-aux-Basques||✔||215, 217, 219, 220 – 232, 235||✔||✔|
|2120||1820||Halifax||✔||201 – 214||✔|
|2137||1837||Placentia||✔||231 – 236|
|2317||2017||Les Escoumins||✔||✔||215 – 221, 301, 302||✔||✔||✔|
|0040||2140||Sydney||✔||209, 213 – 218, 231, 232||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|0048||2148||Placentia||✔||231 – 236|
|0140||2240||Halifax (Fundy)||✔||201 – 214||✔|
|0207||2307||Port-aux-Basques||✔||215, 217, 219, 220 – 232, 235||✔||✔|
|0240||2340||Halifax||✔||201 – 214||✔|
CLICK HERE to download this table and the following list of forecast areas.
202 Grand Manan
204 Brown's Bank
205 George's Bank
206 Southwestern Shore
207 Lahave Bank
208 West Scotian Slope
209 Eastern Shore
211 East Scotian Slope
212 Laurentian Fan
215 Cabot Strait
216 Northumberland Strait
217 Gulf - Magdalen
218 Chaleur - Miscou
220 Gulf - Port-au-Port
221 Northeast Gulf
222 Strait of Belle Isle
223 Belle Isle Bank
224 South Labrador Coast
225 Lake Melville
226 Mid Labrador Coast
227 South Labrador Sea
228 North Labrador Coast
229 Northwest Labrador Sea
230 East Labrador Sea
231 Southwest Coast
232 South Coast
233 Southwestern Grand Banks
234 Southeastern Grand Banks
235 East Coast
236 Northern Grand Banks
237 Northeast Coast
238 Funk Island Bank
280 Bras d'Or Lakes
281 Halifax Harbour and Approaches
301 Pointe-des-Monts to Anticosti - N half The area of Pointe-des-Monts to Anticosti is considered to be in Québec; not Atlantic Canada. However, the area is listed here as it is included in the forecasts from Les Escoumins.ⓘ
302 Pointe-des-Monts to Anticosti - S half
There was a time when the marine forecasts were transmitted in plain-text by NAVTEX. Unfortunately, they are now only transmitted in a cryptic format which makes them almost useless for the average cruiser. Those with the necessary cryptography skills wishing to make use of these forecasts should consult:
Radio Aids to Marine Navigation (Atlantic, St Lawrence, Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg and Arctic)
Aides radio à la navigation maritime (Atlantique, Saint-Laurent, Grands Lacs, Lac Winnipeg et Arctique)
Weather via Internet
Weather via Telephone (English/Français)
- Marine Weather — 1-855-627-4630 (toll free)
Quick Guide for local areas
English 1 Français 2 Forchu 1 - 2 Gulf Magdalen 4 - 3 Northumberland Strait 4 - 4 Cabot Strait 4 - 5 Bras d'Or Lakes 5 - 2
Marine Forecast Areas
This area of notoriously high winds is on the western side of the southwestern tip of Newfoundland, as indicated on the chart below.
CLICK HERE to download the above chart of forecast areas.