Model Upgrade: Extratropical Surge & Tide Operational Forecast System (ESTOFS) is Now Global

On November 24, an upgrade to Global ESTOFS was implemented to provide NWS forecasters with high resolution water level forecast guidance including storm tide (storm surge plus tides) for the entire globe. Global ESTOFS forecast guidance will be used by forecasters at WFOs and the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) to generate their storm surge forecasts during winter storms including Nor’easters along the U.S. East Coast.

An example of maximum forecast water levels (m MSL) from a forecast cycle of Global ESTOFS.
An example of maximum forecast water levels (m MSL) from a forecast cycle of Global ESTOFS.

With this upgrade, the model is global for the first time and replaces a previous version with three operational domains in the Atlantic, Pacific and Micronesia regions. The model also now offers improved spatial resolution in U.S. waters and enhanced physics. The model has four forecast cycles per day, providing water level forecast guidance out to 180 hours.

ESTOFS is one of the oldest-running coastal storm surge operational forecast systems, in place operationally since 2012. The system was developed by the Coastal Marine Modeling Branch of National Ocean Service’s (NOS) Office of Coast Survey and was implemented in collaboration with the National Weather Service and University of Notre Dame. Global ESTOFS’ new capabilities were implemented during collaborative research and development projects supported by the NOAA Water Initiative, COASTAL Act and NOS’ Office of Coast Survey research opportunities.

“I offer my congratulations to the team for this successful implementation of the extratropical surge/tide operational forecast system. I look forward to seeing this tool in action during the major winter storms that deliver many challenges along the U.S. coastlines,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director, National Weather Service. 

“We are so proud of the development and operational implementation of the global version of this forecasting system,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “This new system will be integral in supporting safe marine navigation and protecting lives and property by improving coastal resilience. Great work by the Office of Coast Survey team in developing this system in collaboration with the National Weather Service and University of Notre Dame.”  

The availability of numerical guidance from operational Global ESTOFS enhances the ability of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (primarily OPC) to provide operational extratropical coastal storm surge guidance in Marine Weather Discussions (MWD).

Global ESTOFS will also provide water level forecast guidance to the navigation community as part of NOS’ Precision Marine Navigation program. Finally, Global ESTOFS storm tide output is being used as input to NWS’ Nearshore Wave Prediction System (NWPS), which provides on-demand, high-resolution nearshore wave model forecast guidance to U.S. coastal WFOs. Additional details are available via the Service Change Notice issued on October 23, 2020.

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