Our surf report presents as much data in Real Time as possible. All the buoys, stations, and webcams along the coast provide data on a regular basis. It is our goal to connect you to these data sources, and show you what’s going on out there (some go on the fritz and miss reporting for a given time, some go down for months also, as you will see). Follow current data and forecasts to find the conditions you’re looking for.
Here’s what you should watch:
Swell Height – Naturally, the base of the forecast. You want to know it is a solid consistent swell. When forecasting refer to the Text Marine Forecast provided by NOAA (the best guide for current and future conditions) and the Graphical Height Forecast. Always cross check with current buoy data in the Observations section. (Baseline = 6 feet)
Swell Period – Period is the measurement in seconds between swell peaks, and this data can influence the beach conditions immensely. The higher the period, the more concentrated the wave energy. The Text Marine Forecast is a good reference as well as the Graphical Period Forecast. Always cross check with current buoy data in the Observations section. (Baseline = 10 seconds)
Wind Direction and Velocity – Wind could be the most important measurement to consider when forecasting. After all, Wind creates the waves, and has the power to kill them as well. Ideally you want no wind ( 0 kts) or light offshore wind (blowing away from the shore). However ‘offshore’ is dependent on your location. Look at the Text Marine Forecast for a general idea. Refer to the Observations section for buoy, weather stations, and local airports for current data. Use the map to spot your location in order to determine optimal wind directions. (Baseline = East 5 knots)
Tides – Tidal push and pull influences our coastline heavily, as tide changes the exposure of the intertidal topography as well as amplifying or undermining a swell’s energy. The tide is expressed in feet, and the magnitude depends on the numerical difference between high water and low water. Use the Tide graphical forecasting charts for determining tides of an area, or the NOAA Tide Table link for numerical data. (Baseline = Incoming)
Topography – Each location is unique, adding to the dynamics of other factors. Every shoreline receives and reacts to conditions differently, depending upon local topography. A reef or headland can amplify or diminish both swell and wind depending on direction. This is when you need to take into consideration swell direction and wind direction. Swell direction is listed on the data of most NOAA buoys, and you can also infer the direction from the Height Forecast Graphics.
HUH? – Say you were looking for a mellow, clean and fun day to have a surf at Westport. An sweet setup would be in the neighborhood of: LIGHT WIND BECOMING NE 5 TO 10KT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 12 SECONDS. (With an INCOMING tide). If you’re looking for something a little sporty, increase the swell by a couple feet and the period by a few seconds. Firing!
To be continued.