Since 1980, the Half Moon Bay Buoy (officially National Buoy Data Center #46012) has been monitoring weather, sea, and wave conditions off the coast. Besides being used by meteorologists for their forecasts, fishermen, boaters, surfers, and scientists rely on it to monitor conditions. Anchored about 24 miles west-southwest of Pillar Point, the buoy collects and transmits a wide array of meteorological and oceanographic parameters (i.e., wind speed, wind direction, wind gusts, air temperature, dew point temperature, sea temperature, sea-level pressure, significant wave height, average wave period and dominant wave period) that is archived by the National Buoy Data Center.
In February Buoy 46012 failed and was towed to port. Earlier this month, as an interim measure, the buoy was replaced with a Saildrone; an uncrewed data-collecting platform that will monitor the same parameters that the previous buoy did. Saildrones are made by an Alameda company, Saildrone Inc. They are bright red vessels, with a 23-foot-long double-kayak body topped by a sail containing an array of sensors and solar panels. In addition to taking stationary buoy measurements, there are literally fleets of Saildrones deployed around the world’s oceans collecting data for a wide array of scientific missions. See https://www.cnet.com/science/autonomous-saildrones-are-the-newest-weapon-in-fighting-climate-change/
The Half Moon Bay Saildrone will be active until at least June 2024. At that time it is to be decided by the National Weather Service if a buoy will be redeployed.
Jan Null, CCM
Certified Consulting Meteorologist
Golden Gate Weather Services