How to Read Surf Forecast & What Makes It a Great Day to Surf?
What makes a great day to surf? Well, it depends. Some people will be happy no matter the conditions, but for those who want more than just water and waves, there are some key indicators to watch out for.
You should know the surf conditions before you go out on your own, and a great way to do that is by reading a surf report. The time and place can change, depending on what kind of surf report there is. Surfing is fun but it can always be better with a little dose of planning when and where to surf beforehand. Let’s find out how to read surf forecast?
How to read a surf report
Reading a surf report can be confusing at first for beginners. Today, we will explain the key elements and how you can gauge when an epic swell is coming your way after reading this article.
A “good” swell size, or surf conditions in general, will depend on several factors such as if it’s a sand- or reef-break, wind- or storm-swells and many more things. However, learning to read these numbers is a great first step on your way to improving your surfing learning curve.
Key factors of reading surf forecasts are:
The size of the wave, or swell height, is a measure in feet or meters.
If the surf forecast says 1-3m (3-9ft), then it's usually a good time to go surfing. 3m waves are not appropriate for beginners, but experienced surfers take on waves of incredible height. Under 1 meter, waves are usually more suited to beginner surfers.
The swell period is measured in seconds.
At least 8 seconds of waves and longer for the swell to build momentum is essential in most places. The duration of these waves can be gauged by looking at how far the wave is breaking out beyond the curl or inside on tube sections.
When waves are breaking at a 6-second interval, surfers will find the waves weak and unappealing.
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Swell direction tells you where the swell is coming from in degrees/bearing.
That will depend on the local beach. Learn to know your break, and weather reports from other beaches can provide helpful info for how conditions might be elsewhere.
Understanding the wind direction and swell size can help you know which areas you will find the biggest waves. If your beach is northeast facing, it will miss out on many swells that come from the south. When the swell is 5m from the south and east-northeast facing the beach, it might be a better choice.
Surf forecasts often display wind direction in degrees/bearing.
Surfing is usually best when it’s wind-free. A surfer values glassy conditions―a calm surface of the water without gusts of wind―the most, but tough surfers learn to manage even the worst conditions.
In surfing, there are two primary wind conditions: onshore and offshore.
Offshore winds, which push waves towards the coast rather than away from it, are ideal for surfing.
Surfers who want to practice aerial manoeuvrers would most likely prefer catching an onshore wind.
The lower the number, the more likely a wave will be good. At speeds below five kilometres per hour (3mph), the ocean will be great regardless of whether you're going in a direction or not.
When winds are over 30km/h (20mph), it will get complicated. Even when they come from off the shore. The morning is often the best time to surf because there are fewer winds.
Tides are highly specific to an individual's local break, so you'll need to learn how tide patterns affect your particular spot.