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Nearshore Wave Prediction System

The Nearshore Wave Prediction System (NWPS), currently being developed at NCEP's Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) and a number of participating Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), in particular WFO Miami, WFO Eureka and Southern Region HQ. NWPS is designed to provide routine and on-demand, high-resolution nearshore wave model guidance to coastal NWS forecasters throughout the United States. It is designed to run locally at NWS's WFOs and select National Centers, within the context of AWIPS 2, with central software and development support from NCEP.

The system is driven by forecaster-developed wind grids and offshore wave boundary conditions from NCEP's operational WAVEWATCH III. The nested nearshore wave model used is SWAN, or alternatively a nearshore version of WAVEWATCH III. Current fields are taken from NCEP's Real-Time Ocean Forecast System (RTOFS). Coastal water levels are provided by the Extratropical Surge and Tide Operational Forecast System (ESTOFS). NWPS produces various types of output, including fields of integral wave parameters, wave spectra and individual partitioned and tracked wave systems. The system is being developed as an OSIP project (06-093) and is currently in its alpha (in-house) testing phase

NWPS system structure

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Click on the image below to access interactive NWPS model output in NWS's Southern Region:

Results for Southern Region

Sign up for the NWPS mailing list for updates and information on this system.

Follow the system development on our Wiki Page (authorization required).


Van der Westhuysen, A. J., R. Padilla-Hernandez, P. Santos, A. Gibbs, D. Gaer, T. Nicolini, S. Tjaden, E. M. Devaliere and H. L. Tolman. Development and validation of the Nearshore Wave Prediction System. Proc. 93rd AMS Annual Meeting, Am. Meteor. Soc., Austin, 2013. Available here

Gibbs, A., P. Santos, A. J. van der Westhuysen and R. Padilla-Hernandez. NWS Southern Region Numerical Optimization and Sensitivity Evaluation in Non-Stationary SWAN Simulations. Proc. 92nd AMS Annual Meeting, Am. Meteor. Soc., New Orleans, 2012. Available here

Settelmaier, J. B., A. Gibbs, P. Santos, T. Freeman, D. Gaer. Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN) Modeling Efforts at the National Weather Service (NWS) Southern Region (SR) Coastal Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). Proc. 91st AMS Annual Meeting, Am. Meteor. Soc., Seattle, 2011. Available here

Upcoming features

Unstructured mesh implementation

SWAN and WW3's unstructured grid functionality is currently being incorporated into NWPS. With flexible unstructured grids, computational time can be optimized by concentrating computational grid points only in those nearshore regions where it is required to adequately resolve physical processes at small spatial scales. This is demonstrated below for WFO Key West: logo

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Top: Unstructured mesh over WFO Key West domain.
Bottom: Forecast guidance produced using NWPS (with SWAN wave model).

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Top: Zoom of unstructured mesh over Key West.
Bottom: Forecast guidance over zoomed-in domain.

Inclusion of time-dependent P-Surge water levels during hurricane events

Tropical cyclone events are characterized by a high uncertainty in the atmospheric forcing. As a result, a probabilistic approach is followed by NWS's National Hurricane Center (NHC) to produce cyclone-related coastal surge forecasts during tropical cyclone events using the P-Surge system, based on the highly-efficient Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model. One type of output from P-Surge is the composite surge level fields associated with a given exceedance level (e.g. 10-50%). Since these exceedance fields represent a single water level surface, they can be applied in a single deterministic NWPS run at a given exceedance level. Since the P-Surge fields include inundation of overland regions, it enables the computation of overland waves in flooded areas in NWPS, as shown below for WFO New Orleans during Hurricane Isaac (2012). logo

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Top: Total water depth from P-Surge surge levels (20% exceeedance) and ESTOFS tides.
Bottom: Forecast guidance produced using NWPS (SWAN).

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Page last modified: Wednesday, 10-Jun-2015 20:28:28 UTC