Accurate wind energy forecasts can be an essential component for economic viability of a wind project. Timely and accurate short-term (hours) forecasts can increase the electric grid efficiency and minimize ancillary or other firming requirements, ultimately resulting in reduced costs. This article investigates the use of off-site observations, at distances up to 200 km from the wind farm, as predictors in statistical forecast techniques. In combination with on-site and off-site observations, fine-scale numerical weather predictions can also be used to further increase forecast accuracy at these short forecast horizons. An example from the Pacific Northwest of the USA is described. It is shown that significant forecast improvements are feasible when using off-site observations and/or mesoscale numerical weather predictions in statistical forecast algorithms. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.