New Tide Station To Provide Real Time Data in Panama City Beach - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

New Tide Station To Provide Real Time Data in Panama City Beach

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Fisherman and water sport enthusiasts - rejoice! It's going to be a little easier to track tide levels and water temps in Panama City Beach.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is installing a state of the art tide station on the city pier. It's the first since the original pier was destroyed by Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

Beginning Saturday, it's providing real time data to anyone with access to the Internet with technology that NOAA says has come a long way.

"When I first started here, we had an analog to digital grid, that was basically a float on a wire," said NOAA Engineering Technician, Rick James.

James said it's a whole lot easier to track tide levels with this state of the art system and faster.

"We used to broadcast our data every three hours, then one hour, now we're down to 6 minutes. That's about as fast as we can make it for real time," said James

Tracking tide levels are important to anyone with ties to the sea, said James.

"The fishermen love it. Anybody who fishes or marine patrol or anybody who's on the water...shipping...anybody who wants to know what the tide is doing, what the wind is doing," he said.

That's not all locals are interested in, according to NOAA's Brad Wynn.

"They are also interested locally, here, in some of the ancillary measurements we'll be making as well...such as wind speed, direction, barometric pressure, air temperature and water temperature," said Wynn.

It's an asset for a tourist town that thrives off the Gulf waters.

Just in case another major storm heads our way, Wynn said they have the data collection covered.

"It's important not only for us to measure the approach of the storm, but to measure through the maximum storm. So, that after a storm is over, people want to know how high the water got," said Wynn.

So, next time you find yourself wondering about tide levels or water temps, James has one request.

"Just think of me and all of these guys, because that's what we do."

To see the latest real time data, visit:

http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/