What to Look for in Your Surf Report

by Sarah Webb June 20, 2014

Surf Report
With the technology we have at our fingertips, it's easier than ever for surfers and bodysurfers to know before they go.  Swell forecasting reports allow us to get a snapshot of the waves without even stepping outside.  Wave and wind forecasts from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are downloaded by tens of hundreds of websites and used to provide watermen and waterwomen with a glimpse into the best places and times to #getshacked.  There are two few key features you should pay close attention to in order to get the most out of your surf report and your swells.
Swell Period: The number of seconds indicated in the swell period on your surf report will give you a good idea of how the waves might be.
  • 1-4 Seconds: The waves are so small and weak at this rate, and they likely aren't surfable.  Waves won't really stand out, and you can expect strong winds out there too.
  • 7-9 Seconds: This period is when the waves get a little more rideable, but they will be losing power as they arrive.  A reef or sand bank can help make these waves a little bit better.
  • 13-15 Seconds: Here is where you'll see some barrel action and more consistent sets coming in if the waves wrap around into a sheltered beach or cove.  The waves will likely be bigger than the predicted swell height, as they will bounce back to channel into shallow water.
Swell Direction: Wind direction can make or break your day out in the lineup.  Make sure to check your report and see how the wind direction matches up with the favorable conditions for your local break.  While some beaches may be able to handle a variety of directions, other small, narrow beaches or rocky coves may only be worth the ride if that perfectly directed gust is blowing in.
Sarah Webb
Sarah Webb

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