Coast Guard Re-establishes Storm Flag Program

CMDR Jeff Carter USCG Chief of Media Relations

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced it is re-establishing a Coastal Warning Display (Storm Flag) program at selected Coast Guard boat stations throughout the U.S to warn the public of approaching storm conditions.

Coast Guard stations participated in the National Weather Service’s official Coastal Warning Display program for over 100 years along with yacht clubs and marinas, until it was discontinued in 1989. "For everyone living along the coast these storm flags serve as a visible reminder of the destruction that can be wrought by nature, especially as we head into this year’s hurricane season," said Rear Adm. David Pekoske, assistant commandant for operations.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s "Population Trends Along the Coastal United States: 1980-2008," the narrow coastal fringe that makes up 17 percent of the nation’s contiguous land area is home to more than half of its population. In 2003, approximately 153 million people (53 percent of the nation’s population) lived in the 673 U.S. coastal counties, an increase of 33 million people since 1980.

"Storm flags are a nautical tradition for mariners, and the Coast Guard is pleased to bring back this part of our maritime heritage (Figure 1). However, the real message is that as the flags indicate changing weather from gale to storm to hurricane conditions, everyone, not just mariners, must tune in to National Weather Service broadcasts and start thinking what they will do to prepare for the worst. The power of nature cannot be underestimated. These nautical flags are intended to visually communicate to the American public the lesson of past hurricanes to take personal responsibility for individual safety in the face of an approaching storm," said Capt. Jim McPherson, the Coast Guard’s chief of public affairs.

Starting June 1, selected boat stations will hoist display flags to warn of small craft advisories, gale warnings, storm warnings, and hurricane warnings. Residents of coastal communities are urged to tune to National Weather Service radio broadcasts for the latest information when they observe a flag hoisted as part of this program. The flags are not intended to preclude mariners from taking necessary precautions as soon as possible to protect their vessel and crews.

Mariners are encouraged to visit for suggestions on how to prepare their vessels ahead of a storm.

Since 1871, the Coast Guard has responded to over 70 major storms and saved nearly 300,000 people. During Hurricane Katrina, Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews rescued over 33,000 people.

Small Craft Advisory
Gale Warning
Storm Warning
Hurricane Warning

Small Craft Advisory

Gale Warning

Storm Warning

Hurricane Warning

Figure 1. Storm flags indicate changing weather from small craft to hurricane conditions. For specific wind criteria due to geographic concerns, visit:

USCG CWD Stations

Figure 2. USCG CWD Stations

Station Name State District
Chatham MA 1
Merrimack River MA 1
Shinnecock NY 1
Atlantic City NJ 5
Little Creek VA 5
Wrightsville Beach NC 5
Brunswick GA 7
Charleston SC 7
Cortez FL 7
Fort Lauderdale FL 7
Fort Meyers FL 7
Fort Pierce FL 7
Georgetown SC 7
Islamorada FL 7
Key West FL 7
Lake Worth Inlet FL 7
Marathon FL 7
Mayport FL 7
Miami Beach FL 7
Ponce De Leon FL 7
Port Canaveral FL 7
San Juan PR 7
Sand Key FL 7
St Thomas and St Croix USVI 7
St.Petersburg FL 7
Tybee GA 7
Yankeetown FL 7
Destin FL 8
Galveston TX 8
New Orleans LA 8
South Padre Island TX 8
Noyo River CA 11
Bellingham WA 13
Cape Disappointment WA 13
Chetco River & Rogue River OR 13
Coos Bay & Coquille River OR 13
Depoe Bay OR 13
Grays Harbor WA 13
Neah Bay WA 13
Port Angeles WA 13
Quillayute River WA 13
Siuslaw River OR 13
Tillamook Bay OR 13
Umpqua River OR 13
Yaquina Bay OR 13

Editor’s Note: The National Weather Service’s Coastal Warning Display program was de-emphasized in favor of frequently updated telephone recordings (Table 1) and NOAA Weather Radio frequencies (Table 2). The latter covers the coastal areas of continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Mariana Islands with continuous weather broadcasts. These notification programs are able to reach a larger portion of the marine public. As such, please listen to NOAA Weather Radio when you see the warning flags flying for specific information on movement, intensity, and duration.

Table 1. Marine Forecast Telephone Warning Recording List

National Weather Service Phone Recordings of Marine Forecasts
Dial-A-Buoy 888-701-8992
Ocean Prediction Center None available
PCBU 17/1200
Tropical Prediction Center None available
National Hurricane Center None available
Central Pacific Hurricane Center None available
Caribou, ME None available
Portland/Gray, ME 207-688-3210
Taunton, MA 508-822-0634
New York, NY 631-924-0517
Philadelphia/New Jersey 609-261-6600
Washington, DC/Maryland 703-260-0107
Wakefield, VA 757-899-4200
Newport/Morehead City, NC 252-223-5737
Wilmington, NC 910-762-4289
Charleston, SC 843-744-0303
Jacksonville, FL 904-741-4370+
Melbourne, FL 321-255-0212#
Miami, FL 305-229-4550
Key West, FL 305-295-1316 • 305-295-1316 Ext 241@
San Juan, PR 787-253-4586 • 787-253-4586 Ext 241@
Tampa, FL 813-645-2506
Tallahassee, FL 850-942-8851
Mobile, AL None available
New Orleans, LA 504-465-9215
Lake Charles, LA 337-477-5285*
Houston/Galveston, TX 281-337-5074
Corpus Christi, TX 361-289-1861 • 361-289-0959 Ext 1@
Brownsville, TX 956-504-1432
Buffalo,NY 716-565-0802
Cleveland,OH 216-265-2370#
Detroit/Pontiac,MI 248-620-2355
Gaylord, MI 989-732-6242
Grand Rapids,MI 616-949-4253
Grand Rapids,MI (alt) 231-727-4009
Chicago,IL 815-834-0675
Milwaukee/Sullivan,WI 414-744-8000
Green Bay,WI 920-494-2363#
Marquette,MI 906-475-5212@
Duluth,MN 218-729-6697
Seattle, WA None available
Portland, OR 503-861-2722
Medford, OR 541-776-4305
Eureka, CA 707-443-6484@
San Francisco, CA 831-656-1725
Los Angeles/Oxnard, CA 805-278-0760
San Diego, CA 858-675-8700
Juneau, AK 907-790-6850
Anchorage, AK 907-266-5145
Fairbanks, AK 907-458-3745
Hawaii-Marine Forecast 808-973-5286 Ext 237*@
Hawaii-Coastal Winds and Buoy Observations 808-973-6114 +
Hawaii-Oahu Marine Forecast 808-973-4382
Hawaii-Oahu Surf Forecast 808 973 4383
Hawaii-Maui Marine Forecast 808-877-3477
Hawaii-Kaua`i Marine Forecast 808-245-3564
Hawaii-Hilo Marine Forecast 808-935-9883
Marianas (Guam) 211(Guam only) • 671-472-0952*@
The Republic of Palau 680-488-1103 • 671-472-0952@
Micronesia - Yap State 691-350-2443 • 671-472-0952@
Micronesia - Chuuk State 691-330-4349 • 671-472-0952@
Micronesia - Pohnpei State , TX 691-320-5788 • 671-472-0952@
Micronesia - Kosrae State None available • 671-472-0952@
The Republic of the Marshall Islands 692-625-3079 • 671-472-0952@
Samoa None available

# May be answered by forecaster during daylight hours
* Answered by forecaster
@ Forecaster available for further assistance
+ Forecaster available for further assistance 9am-5pm


Table 2. NOAA Weather Radio Frequencies

162.400 162.425 162.450 162.475 162.500 162.525 162.550