National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

FTPMAIL help file

     This is a United States Government Computer.  Use of 
     this computer for purposes for which authorization       
     has not been extended is a violation of federal law.       
                   (Reference Public Law 99-474)          
     For technical assistance with FTPMAIL contact:                                         

**** IMPORTANT NOTICES **** Read these notes carefully ****

These instructions are subject to frequently.

Effective September 07, 2016, the address of the FTPMAIL service changed from to  

If you restrict incoming e-mail as a means of preventing spam, you must configure your e-mail system to allow mail from 

99% of errors using ftpmail are simple typing errors, incorrect capitalization, failure to send in plain text format, leading or trailing spaces, or failure to 
set up any spam filters properly.  See section on ensuring e-mail requests are sent in the proper format and follow the examples closely.

Check time and date of forecasts. Downloaded data may not represent the latest forecast. The Internet is not part of the National Weather Service's operational data stream and should never be relied upon as a means to obtain the latest forecast and warning data. Become familiar with and use other means such as NOAA Weather Radio to obtain the latest forecasts and warnings. Please read our disclaimer at

Radiofax .TIF files now also available as (larger) .gif files. is the only valid FTP site for this service.

This "help" file contains a detailed description of the FTPMAIL system and available products. To obtain another copy of the FTPMAIL "help" file:

In plain text format-
Send an e-mail to:
Subject Line:               Put anything you like
Body:                          help

This National Weather Service (NWS) FTPMAIL server is intended to allow Internet access for users who do not have direct access to the World Wide Web but who are equipped with an e-mail system. The service is free and no signup is required.  Using FTPMAIL, users can request files from NWS and have them automatically
e-mailed back to them.  Turnaround is generally less than one hour, however, performance may vary widely and the NWS cannot guarantee receipt. 

Although these instructions are tailored for marine users to gain access to graphic (radiofax) and text products via e-mail, all publicly available data on the Internet FTP server is accessible using the FTPMAIL service.  

To begin using the FTPMAIL service, the user sends a small script file via  e-mail requesting the desired file(s). A list of available product directories and file names can be seen by clicking the link below.

A listing of all available product descriptions, file names, times the product is available and issuing center can be viewed at the link below. It will help you determine which products you want/need to receive using FTPMAIL.


FTPMAIL e-mail requests must be sent in ASCII/Plain Text only.  HTML formatting will likely result in no response from the FTPMAIL server. 

An FAQ webpage describing several public and commercial FTP-to-EMAIL and WWW-to-EMAIL servers may be found at:

Users should be familiar with sending and receiving messages and attachments with their particular e-mail system.  Attachments are received in UUencoded form. The majority of modern e-mail systems  handle the conversion automatically, other users will need to run the UUdecode program for their particular system. If your e-mail system does not UUENCODE automatically, you will get back a bunch of gibberish starting with something like "begin 600 PWAE98.TIF"  See your system administrator if you have any questions on this topic. UUdecode freeware and shareware may also be found on the Web, but the easier solution is to try a different e-mail system if that option is open  to you. The UUencoding process can add 0 to >100% overhead depending on your system and the type of file. 

Files which are greater than approximately 400KB in length may be sent as multiple e-mails which must then be appended to another and UUdecoded. This can be avoided using the "size" command following the "open" statement, e.g. "size 1000000." The maximum allowable is 2MB.  

Files sizes for NWS radiofax graphic files average 35KB but can be much greater especially some satellite images which can approach 1MB.  Use the "dir" command to ascertain the size of files of interest as a precaution.  Users should be aware of the costs for operating their particular e-mail system before attempting to use FTPMAIL, especially when using satellite communication systems.  For marine users,  using FTPMAIL via INMARSAT-C for obtaining current NWS 
radiofax graphic files is cost prohibitive.   Using the FTPMAIL compression feature of FTPMAIL is not recommended as these files are already in a compressed T4(G4) format enveloped in TIFF for viewing. You will need a graphics program capable of displaying files in this format in order to view them.  Suggestions for TIFF 
viewers may be found in file

Make certain you have not enabled any auto-reply function in your email system.

If you see the following response and believe your script to be correct, the most likely  problem is that you are sending your e-mail in HTML format rather than the required plain text format.  

<FTP EMAIL> response
ftpmail has failed to queue your request with an error of: Must have an 'open [site [user [pass]]]' 

If you restrict incoming e-mail as a means of preventing spam, you must program your e-mail system to allow messages from:

The majority of error messages have been disabled.   You may or may not receive an error message back from FTPMAIL if your script is in error.

FTPMAIL problems are occasionally encountered when embedded control characters are received within the e-mail message received by the 
FTPMAIL server.  These control characters may be introduced by the user's e-mail system and may be unavoidable. 

Also be certain that each of your commands does not have any leading and/or trailing space(s) or you may see an error message with a number of statements saying "=20" 

Problems may also be encountered in trying to go down several levels of directories simultaneously, e.g. "cd data/forecasts/marine/test".  Use a series of commands "cd data", "cd forecasts", "cd marine" instead. In both these instances, the likely error will be "Directory not Found"

If the FTPMAIL server is too busy, you will receive an e-mail with a subject line similar to: "ftpmail job queuing for retry queue/097095.69568" Your request will be resubmitted automatically and your requested file(s) should be received within several hours. 


The following examples demonstrate the use of FTPMAIL. Indexes of currently available marine products, the list FTPMAIL commands, and suggestions for TIFF viewers may be obtained following these instructions.

-In plain text format-
o  Send an e-mail via the Internet to:
o  Put anything you like on the subject line
o  Enter a command script in the body of the message

NOTE:  Correct capitalization for commands, directory and file names is critical

Example scripts are:

     Connect to default site ( and send back his help file to e-mail address of requester

cd fax
get PWAE98.TIF (24 hour wind and wave graphic forecast for the Atlantic)
     Connect to default site ( and send back the chart file PWAE98.TIF to e-mail address of requester

cd data
cd forecasts
cd marine
cd coastal
cd an
get anz231.txt (text marine forecast for Cape Cod Bay)
     Connect to default site ( and send back coastal marine zone forecast ANZ231 to e-mail address of requester

cd data
cd forecasts
cd zone
cd md
get mdz004.txt (Text of land forecast for Frederick County Maryland)
     Connect to default site ( and send back public land zone forecast MDZ004 to e-mail address of requester.
     (Contact your local forecast office to identify the public forecast zone number for your county, known as the UGC code) 
     Zones lists by State may also be found at

     Connect to default site ( and send back the contents of the top level directory to

cd fax
get ftpcmd.txt      (List of FTPMAIL commands)
get rfaxtif.txt     (TIFF suggestions)
get rfaxatl.txt     (Atlantic radiofax file directory)
get rfaxpac.txt     (Pacific radiofax file directory)
get rfaxmex.txt     (Gulf of Mexico and Trop Atl radiofax file dir)
get rfaxak.txt      (Alaska radiofax and ice file directory)
get rfaxhi.txt      (Hawaii radiofax file directory)
get otherfax.txt    (Foreign charts file directory)
get marine1.txt     (Highseas,Offshore,Open Lakes,NAVTEX text file dir)
get marine2.txt     (Hurricane text file directory)
get marine3.txt     (Coastal and nearshore forecasts text file dir)
get marine4.txt     (Offshore forecasts by zone directory)
get marine5.txt     (Atlantic coastal forecasts by zone directory)
get marine6.txt     (Pacific coastal forecasts by zone directory)
get marine7.txt     (Gulf of Mexico coastal forecasts by zone dir)
get marine8.txt     (Great Lakes nearshore forecasts by zone directory)
get marine9.txt     (Alaska coastal forecasts by zone directory)
get marine10.txt    (Hawaii&Trust coastal forecasts by zone directory)
get uk.txt          (UK marine forecasts from Bracknell directory)
get canada.txt      (Canadian marine text forecast directory)
get tsunami.txt     (Tsunami products directory)
get buoydata.txt    (Buoy and C-MAN station observations directory)
get robots.txt      (Marine forecasts and info via e-mail systems) 

     Connect to default site ( and send back the requested files to e-mail address of requester.

Many, but not all National Weather Service forecast products may be obtained using FTPMAIL if the WMO/AWIPS Header is known. 

To obtain the Atlantic high seas Forecast, WMO header FZNT01 KWBC, AWIPS header HSFAT1

Send an e-mail to:
Subject Line:           Put anything you like
Body:               open
                        cd data
                        cd raw
                        cd fz
                        get fznt01.kwbc.hsf.at1.txt


If you have access to the Internet, check out the following NWS webpages.  

NWS watch warning advisory webpage

NWS Marine Forecast webpage             
NWS Mobile Device webpage 

Ocean Prediction Center                      

Tropical Analyses and Forecast Branch webpage        

Hawaii Marine Products webpage

Author: Marine, Tropical, and Tsunami Services Branch, W/AFS26  
        National Weather Service
        Last Modified July 31, 2019
        Document URL: