Forcasting Marginal Swells
I have one policy when I run surf lessons. I don’t run them when it’s flat. This makes my job a lot more difficult and stressful. I’m writing this after a sleepless night hitting refresh on the wave bouy data website which wasn’t giving the readings I was hoping for last night.
I was hoping, from cross-referencing surf forecast sights that we would be looking at around a foot of swell today coming directly from the north with around a 9 second period. This wouldn’t be huge, but perfect for a beginners session. Combine that with a quieter surfing beach and it could have been a really great day to learn to surf.
These marginal swells can be difficult to forecast though as they aren’t generated by such powerful low pressure systems as the bigger 3-4ft ‘ground swells’. There have been so many days that have been forecast as flat with a foot of perfect surf rolling in. It’s rarer that a small swell just never appears - but it occasionally happens unfortunately.
On my personal journey in surfing; as I got braver surfing and heading out in different conditions, surfing different boards, learning to read waves, turn and generate speed the other half of learning to surf happens in the house, on a laptop. Well…that and driving to spots and comparing the research with the reality.
Surf forecasting is as important as the act of surfing itself.
I thought it would be useful to share a couple of links with you that I use to forecast the surf.
1) Magic Seaweed
Not always 100% correct but probably the most widely used site for the NE coast. Handy with its direct links to live streamed web-cams. I try to keep an eye on the chart as well as just the forecast to cross-reference the source of a forecast swell.
Not as widely used in the UK, but the biggest forecasting site in California many other parts of the world. Useful data and worth a check against MSW to see if they are both forecasting the same thing.
This is a very important tool as it feeds back real-time data from the Tyne/Tees bouy. This isn’t forecasting but what’s actually happening a couple of hours off our coastline.
It’s difficult working with nature. I want to provide lessons as often as I can but it’s important to me that I am not taking peoples money for surf lessons unless there is some surf for me to teach them in. It’s not often I get it wrong but those odd times I do, I’ll call it as soon as I can and try to avoid disappointment for my lovely students.
I hope that these links are useful; they are my daily work (and fun) tools.
I’m planning on running a swell forecasting evening over the coming weeks, keep an eye out for that if you feel it would be useful.