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National Weather Service Glossary

This glossary contains information on more than 2000 terms, phrases and abbreviations used by the NWS. Many of these terms and abbreviations are used by NWS forecasters to communicate between each other and have been in use for many years and before many NWS products were directly available to the public. It is the purpose of this glossary to aid the general public in better understanding NWS products.

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Fetch
1. The area in which ocean waves are generated by the wind. Also refers to the length of the fetch area, measured in the direction of the wind.

2. In hydrologic terms,
  • The effective distance which waves have traversed in open water, from their point of origin to the point where they break.
  • 2. The distance of the water or the homogenous type surface over which the wind blows without appreciable change in direction.