MAking accurate surf forecasts nowadays is not so difficult. You just need to have a basic understanding of the conditions that generate and shape waves. Nowadays there are many surf forecasting websites that will give you plenty of information about future swell activity. If you know how to read these surf forecasts and know the specifics of your surf spot you should be able to predict the waves quite accurately for the next 2-3 days. We have tried to explain you how waves are made and how waves break in our previous articles.
Here are 4 factors you should take note off when reading a swell forecast:
1 WAVE HEIGHT & PERIOD
Surf reports always tell you the wave height and the wave period. While some surfers prefer 20 ft waves, others are already happy with 3-4 ft. A longer period (interval) between waves is always preferred, the waves will be better formed and shaped. 3 ft at 18 seconds is much better than 4 ft at 5 seconds.
2 SWELL DIRECTION
If you want to predict waves you need to know which swell direction works best for your surf spot. A swell hitting a beach straight on will give a different looking wave than a swell angled on a point break. Take some time researching what works best for your spot.
3 LOCAL WINDS
A good solid swell does not always translate in good waves. The local wind is a major factor in the rideability of the wave. Offshore winds that blow off the shore into the coming waves shape the waves perfectly and give you a smooth ride. Strong onshore winds are swell killers, while sideshore winds can be fine to ride.
Many spots have a particular tide that works best for that spot. Some spots work better with upcoming and high tide, other spots expose a reef on low tide making it unsurfable. Tides are an important factor to take into account. Ask other surfers what the best tides are for your favorite surf spot.
Be sure to read our next article with a list of forecasting websites worldwide.
Featured image by M.Shari