It’s an extremely busy weekend for me, but still, there’s some time to put up a post about another radiofax station or two. In fact, I’ve put in a lot more effort to try and determine the “whereabouts” of some of the more difficult-to-hear stations which is actually bearing some fruit. Alas, you’ll have to wait to see the results.
Instead, this posting focuses on the final station of the NWS/NOAA network, NMG broadcasting from New Orleans, Louisiana. While sharing many characteristics with the other stations, this station seems to have the unusual distinction of being the one with the least variety of charts within the network. NMG broadcasts from four frequencies, with either three or four of them active at any time.
Reception of the NMG station was achieved via the KiwiSDR at KPH Maritime Radio Station and the South Texas Mag Loop KiwiSDR in the period spanning 19-20th January and 2nd-3rd February 2019 to ensure all chart variants were captured in acceptable quality.
As with all of these postings, charts are not updated and represent a static point in time. Charts should not be used for navigation purposes. Copyright in the faxed material belongs to the transmitting agency, National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States of America. Reproduction of the faxed material is made for documentary purposes only, including a discussion of transmission characteristics, formatting of the faxed data and as proof of the station’s operational status, signal propagation and reception of these signals at the times and dates specified within the posting. Up-to-date charts are available from http://tgftp.nws.noaa.gov/fax/marine.shtml
As with other NWS/NOAA group stations, I will present the charts separated by category. While the listed frequencies were found to be active, all receptions were made of 8503.9kHz due to its “around-the-clock” active status and its greater strength at the chosen KiwiSDR receiver stations.
System-Related and Warnings
Like other NWS/NOAA network stations, NMG also calls “CQ” by radiofax in the “test pattern” slots, this being consistent with the majority of stations with the NOAA and US Coast Guard logos. The faxed CQ has black margins in the image area and data dots in the top-left corner, consistent with NWS/NOAA stations and one Canadian station. The above example was received 3rd February 2019 at 0000UTC.
Unlike most of the other NWS/NOAA stations, the schedule is able to fit on one page and is rendered sharply with no monospaced fonts at all. This particular schedule was effective as of 3rd April 2012, but is claimed to be the version from 24th October 2016. The notice to the right may have been added in at a later date, but the simplicity of the schedule which has numerous chart repetitions results in a smaller variety of chart types being available. This particular schedule was received on 2nd February 2019 at 2025UTC.
A product notice is sent twice a day, the above example received on 19th January 2019 at 1425UTC. Changes noted include a reordering of transmitted faxes as of 3rd April 2012.
While most stations generally send graphical products only, NMG is a slight exception with the “High Seas Forecast” rendered as text on a fax. The text is rendered in a monospaced font with the text in the natural “readable” orientation. The length of the fax appears to depend on the warnings of the day, however, with long warnings such as the above, it seems the text had been truncated. The font is rather thick and readable, with the above example received 19th January 2019 at 1445UTC.
Occasionally, it appears that the text warnings somehow omit a stop tone, resulting in “endless” faxes. The above example is from 0845UTC on the same day.
The high wind/waves warning chart is very much the same as that of the other NOAA network stations, this appearing to originally have been a long chart but sent as a short chart resulting in significant white borders at the bottom. This example received 19th January 2019 at 0735UTC.
Unlike other NWS/NOAA stations which offer a number of satellite images, NMG transmits only one GOES IR Tropical Satellite Image. This example was received 19th January 2019 at 0800UTC, showing use of greyscale capabilities and the full width of the faxed page. It is bordered by a black bar at the bottom edge and is a “short” fax.
Surface Analysis and Forecast
Surface analysis products follow similar trends to other stations including the use of nearly square-aspect rotated charts. Unfortunately, there seems to be some QRM effects on this chart, even after several attempts, it persisted. This is an example of the Tropical Analysis for the Western half of the USA, received 0605UTC on 20th January 2019.
This was followed by a similarly formatted chart for the Eastern half, received 0620UTC.
The surface forecasts are sent as short charts in the natural orientation, the above is an example of the 24-hour forecast from the NWS/NHC/Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch. This example was received 19th January at 0105UTC.
This was followed by the 48-hour surface forecast following the same conventions at 0115UTC.
Unfortunately, as I had difficulty receiving a clean example of a 72-hour forecast on that day, this example comes from 20th January 2019 at 0715UTC.
Wind/Wave Analysis and Forecast
A sea state analysis chart is shown above, received 1415UTC on 2nd February 2019. This is a short chart, formatted similarly to most of the other examples already shown.
Wind and wave forecasts are issued by the same branch, the above is an example of the 24-hour forecast product received 19th January at 0035UTC.
A 36-hour product is available, this example from 1350UTC.
The above is a 48-hour forecast from 0045UTC.
Finally, a 72-hour forecast from 0055UTC.
Two wave-period and forecast direction charts are available, a 48-hour version received 0635UTC on 20th January 2019 shown above.
Finally, a 72-hour version received at 0825UTC.
It should come as no surprise, the commonalities in chart formatting and transmission characteristics shared by most NWS/NOAA network stations such as the black margins in the image area and the data-dots in the top left of the image area. The preference for short charts and the consistent use of logo and formatting are also apparent, although NMG does not transmit as great a variety of charts as the other stations do.
But where they differ is definitely interesting – textual warnings rendered in monospace type and a single page schedule are definitely amongst the highlights of the NMG offering.
This posting completes the documentation of all NWS/NOAA network of radiofax stations which comprise a good fraction of the transmissions still currently active worldwide. But alas, there are still more active stations to showcase including HLL2 (South Korea), VMC/VMW (Australia, although temporarily suffering from a transmission fault) and a number of more obscure stations which have required some level of effort and luck to receive.