Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System -- PORTS

The Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS) is an public information acquisition and dissemination technology developed by the National Ocean Service (NOS) in cooperation with the Greater Tampa Bay Marine Advisory Council. The first permanent, fully integrated, operational PORTS was deployed in Tampa Bay during 1990 and 1991. The system is managed, operated, and maintained by the Greater Tampa Bay Marine Advisory Council-PORTS under a cooperative agreement with NOS and the University of South Florida.

Tampa Bay PORTS includes the integration of real-time currents, water levels, winds, wave height, visibility, air and water temperatures, and barometric pressure at multiple locations with a data dissemination system that includes telephone voice response, modem dial-up, dedicated modem displays, and World Wide Web/Internet sites. Tampa Bay PORTS consists of four acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs), four water level gages, six anemometers (wind sensors), an atmospheric temperature and barometric pressure sensor, a directional wave gage, packet radio transmission equipment, a data acquisition system, and an information dissemination system (IDS).


The traditional prediction tables that are generated annually by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provide information about the astronomical tides and currents but do not include the effects of wind, river flow, and other meteorological forces. Nontidal forces in Tampa Bay sometimes result in deviation from the times of published tidal predictions by up to 100 minutes and 2.5 feet. Real-time measurements, enriched by nowcasts, were identified as critical requirements for safe navigation in Tampa Bay. The three storm-surge figures (one from Hurricane Opal 10/95, one from Tropical Storm Gordon 11/94 and one from the so-called Storm of the Century 3/93) illustrate this point. Depending on wind intensity and direction, the tides in Tampa Bay were amplified and deviated significantly from the predicted levels.

Click here for real vs. predicted tides during the Storm of the Century.

Click here for real vs. predicted tides during Tropical Storm Gordon.

Click here for real vs. predicted tides during Hurricane Opal.

Click here to see other storm surge graphics for Tampa Bay.

Public Access to PORTS Data

PORTS provides essential real-time information for safe and cost-effective navigation, hazardous material and oil-spill prevention and response, search-and-rescue, and scientific research. PORTS measures real-time data with six-minute updates at eight strategic locations in Tampa Bay. PORTS also provides NOAA's Global Ocean Observing System with coastal ocean measurement and dissemination components and NOAA's National Weather Service with data for broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio. Tampa Bay PORTS data are available on a priority basis for trajectory modeling supporting U.S. Coast Guard spill response. All data are continuously archived and are available by request or via anonymous FTP on the internet.

Tampa Bay PORTS provides real-time information via an easy-to-use telephone voice data response system, World Wide Web, or modem dial-up. The telephone number for voice response is 1-866-TBPORTS or 1-866-827-6787. Data can also be received via modem dial-up as screen text at (727) 822-5931. Communications software should be set at 2400 baud rates (1200 and 300 baud rates are also supported), 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity, and full duplex. Simply follow the prompt for "ports" log-on.

Locations of PORTS Sensors




Wave Height/Direction


For Further Information, Contact:

Dr. Mark Luther
E-mail: luther@marine.usf.edu
Tampa Bay PORTS Manager
University of South Florida
Department of Marine Science
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Tel.: (727) 553-1528
FAX: (727) 553-1189

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