How To: Buoy Reports via Text Message

Did you know you can subscribe to buoy observations via text message? Simply text “follow buoy51201” to 40404 to begin receiving text message updates from the Waimea Bay buoy. The best part about SMS updates is that you don’t need a fancy smart-phone to stay current with your favorite stations.

TL;DR: Quick Start Cheat Sheet

These examples use the Waimea Bay station, which has the Twitter username buoy51201. Text messages should be sent to 40404, which is Twitter’s shortcode.

  1. Receive Reports: “follow buoy51201”
  2. Disable Reports: “off buoy51201”
  3. Enable Reports: “on buoy51201”
  4. Latest Report: “get buoy51201”

Here’s how you can receive real-time buoy reports via text message, with a little help from Twitter’s SMS service.

Receive All Reports From a Station

Let’s say you’d like to receive reports via text message from the Half Moon Bay buoy, which has a station ID of 46012 and the Twitter username buoy46012. To begin receiving updates simply text “follow buoy46012” to 40404.

You will receive a confirmation that you are “now following @buoy46012” along with the most recent report from the buoy. When new observations become available, they’ll be sent directly to your phone.

Disable / Enable Station Reporting

If you’d like to stop receiving updates from a station, simply text “off buoy46012” to 40404. To begin receiving them again, text “on buoy46012” to 40404.

These commands are handy for managing text message subscriptions for individual stations. If you’d like to enable or disable text messaging entirely (if you’re subscribed to multiple stations for example), text “on” or “off” to 40404 respectively.

Get Only the Latest Report

Say you’re only interested in the latest report from a station, and don’t want a stream of text messages flooding your phone every 30 to 60 minutes. The “get” command allows you to only receive the most recent report from a station.

For example, to receive the latest report from the Half Moon Bay buoy you’d text “get buoy46012” to 40404.


Please note that all these commands require the use of the buoy’s Twitter username, which follows the convention “buoyXXXXX” where XXXXX is the station’s 5-character NDBC ID.

There is no limit to the number of stations you can follow. To subscribe to additional buoys, replace “buoy46012” in the examples above with your favorite station’s Twitter username.

Additional SMS commands and examples are available in Twitter’s SMS help center.