I agree with you, as I was also on the lake yesterday between Vermilion and Lorain. The AM weather/wave report was on target, but as you indicated, that was not the case in the afternoon. We were also experiencing 2-3 footers, with the occasional 4, and whitecaps. We kept fishing, yet was not what was forecast. I count that up to the terms of 'predicting' or 'forecasting' the weather conditions; mother nature does not always do what the NWS/NOAA predicts she will do--and often times, much to our dismay.
With respect to the buoy 17 miles north of Vermilion----I also agree with your observations and concerns. Not wanting to make an excuse for NWS/NOAA, but possibly their equipment needs an overhaul or replacing? There seems to be a problem with data from that specific buoy, as this is not the first time their data site recordings do not agree with those boaters on the water and experiencing conditions first hand.
I suggest that you, and all others who experience frequent 'significant' differences in both forecasts AND lake buoy data contact the NWS/NOAA directly at the following website/phone/address:firstname.lastname@example.org
National Weather Service Forecast Office
Federal Facilities Building
Cleveland Hopkins Airport
Cleveland, OH 44135
Unless they know the system is not functioning properly, how can they be expected to provide accurate (well, to the best of their ability) data
for Lake Erie users to plan activities around?
When you make contact with NWS, always have the date, time, and location of your observations recorded. Also, be willing to provide your name and contact information so as to lend creditability to your observation.
NWS/NOAA use to have a volunteer weather informatiion program, called MAREPS (short for Marine Reporting System) where designated, trustworthy charter and commercial vessel captains would report now time conditions to NWS in Cleveland, which would then be immediately updated on NOAA weather channel 16. This program started out well, and continued for a couple of years. However, volunteer MAREP reports decreased to the point where the program was unable to continue. Although the initial intention of the volunteer reporters was good, it became a daily "job", without pay and any real recognition or incentives. When asked to develop a meaningful incentive program for MAREP volunteers, the request unfortunately was either not heard by the right administrators, or was not taken seriously.
Hope this provides some satisfation to your concerns.
Dave Kelch, Ohio Sea Grant Program