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How to read surf forecast?

How to read surf forecast: It can be complex, but Waves Finder will provide a concise guide to understanding the key elements. Here’s a breakdown of the important aspects to consider when interpreting a surf forecast:

How to read surf forecast?

  • Wave Height: Wave height refers to the vertical distance between the crest and the trough of a wave. It is usually measured in feet or meters. A higher swell height generally indicates larger waves, which can provide better surfing conditions. Of course, depending your surfing skills, you will adapt yourself to the size of the waves: for example, if you’re used to surf 1m of wave, don’t get inside the water if the size of the waves are 3m.
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  • Swell Period: Swell period represents the time (in seconds) it takes for consecutive wave crests to pass a fixed point. It is measured in seconds. Longer swell periods often result in more powerful and well-defined waves, which are preferred by surfers. Longer the period is, stronger the wave will be. Why is that? Because the wave itself has more time to generate power and break. If you get 1m of wave with a big period (14 seconds let’s say), the size of the wave might be 1.5m.
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  • Swell Direction: Swell direction indicates the origin of the swell, often described in degrees or cardinal directions (e.g., North, Northwest). It helps determine how waves will approach a particular surf break. Different breaks are better suited to specific swell directions: For example, if you are in a island and you are on the west coast, if you have swell comming from east, the waves might not even break on the west coast. However, you can be sure that waves will appear if the swell is coming completely from east.
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  • Wind: Wind has a significant impact on wave quality. Offshore winds, blowing from the land toward the ocean, tend to groom and shape waves, resulting in cleaner and more organized surf. Onshore winds, blowing from the ocean toward the land, can create choppier and less desirable conditions. Depending where you’re located, you need to see which direction i the wind blowing. If you’re in Peniche, south wind will be off shore there, but if you are in Ericeira, you need east wind for being off shore wind. Off shore wind is not the best one on contrary what most of people could think. if this wind is to strong, it would make way more difficult to get into the wave during your paddling.
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  • Tide: The tide refers to the rise and fall of the ocean level caused by gravitational forces between the Earth, Moon, and Sun. Understanding the tide is crucial, as certain surf breaks work best at specific stages of the tide. Some breaks may be better during low tide, while others may favor high tide.
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  • Local Knowledge: While surf forecasts provide valuable information, it’s essential to consider local knowledge and understanding of specific surf spots. Factors like the shape of the coastline, underwater topography, and local weather patterns can significantly affect wave conditions and may not always be accurately reflected in forecasts.
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To read a surf forecast effectively, consider how the various elements mentioned above interact with each other. Look for swells with favorable characteristics (height, period, and direction) that align with suitable wind conditions and tide levels for the specific surf break you’re interested in.

Remember that surf forecasts are predictions, and actual conditions may vary. It’s always a good idea to check multiple forecast sources, monitor live surf reports, and rely on local expertise when possible to make informed decisions about when and where to surf safely and enjoyably.

Those images are coming from the forecast website WindGuru.
Once you combine the info you’re having a look, depending your location, you will know if yes or no conditions are good to get wet!

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We will write another article about the different surf forecast that exists in Internet, so stay tuned!

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