I’m not a weather expert. Far from it in fact. I honestly believe that a lot of people who surf (with the exception of professionals) don’t really know all that much about reading weather charts. And if I’m being truthful, there is no point studying weather patterns forming in an ocean that has no geographical relevance to you. All you need is an app on your phone that does the hard (and often confusing) work for you. There are a plethora available for free download that give everything from weekly forecast, wind direction and strength, swell size and direction, swell periods, low tide and hight tide, plus other features for the more advanced surfers out there.
One of the oldest and most popular surf forecast apps (and online), Magic Seaweed does it all. Everything you need to know about the surf is updated in real time - four times a day. The app covers 3,000 beaches in 180 countries, so you know wherever you end up, you’ll be able to dial in and see what the forecast is looking like. There are a load of webcams to select from, so you can see exactly what the surf is doing, and how many people are out there. Additionally, air and sea temperature is provided as well as first and last light, guaranteeing you make the most out of the surf. Plus, Magic Seaweed provides surrounding food and drink places, local surf schools, nearby surf shops and surf accommodation. This is obviously all on top of swell size and wind direction, which are the two most crucial aspects of reading surf conditions. Thus, if you haven’t already done so, download the Magic Seaweed app.
Surfline is self-described as ‘part science, part art and part pure data’. Essentially it uses the three core ingredients required to forecast surf. The great thing about Surfline is that if you happen to be a subscriber, you can check swell predictions two weeks in advance. Furthermore, Surfline were the first to implement ‘surfcams’ during the 1996 US Open at Huntington beach, and now have over 200 with the quality increasing as new technology is introduced. Additionally, the World Surf League have partnered up with Surfline, so you know they’re doing something right with their forecasting. Because if it’s trusted by the best surfers in the world, then there’s really no need to look anywhere else. It basically just becomes a matter of preference as to which app you prefer to use, as some forecasters might use easier diagrams and figures for you to read and determine whether or not it’s worth heading to the beach and paddling out.
The latest forecasting app of the three, Swellnet started out with initial forecasts sent to avid surfers by fax and email. Now, it’s an established and trusted surf report website and application that allows you to access ad-free surfcams, dawn surf reports, forecaster notes and long range surf forecasts - all for just $8.95/month. However, if it’s just the swell size and wind direction you’re after, you can access all the required information for free. Additionally, Swellnet provides an abundance of content, so you’re never out of the loop when it comes to what’s happening in the surfing world.
It’s worth noting there’s another app that doesn’t tell you what the surf is doing, however, it does tell you what those ‘pointy teeth predators’ are doing beneath the surface. It’s called Dorsal and it’s the the world’s most advanced shark reporting and alerts solution. It works by allowing you to immediately alert others to shark sightings and/or attacks in your area. All you have to do is submit what you see, then once it’s verified, it will immediately show on the map as a ‘fin’ so other surfers who are thinking about paddling out know that there has been some shark activity in the area. The saying goes ‘ignorance is bliss’, however, I feel when it comes to surfing, it’s always reassuring to know that nothing is going to put you in the hospital for all the wrong reasons.
There’s something be said about just rocking up to a beach and going for a surf no matter what the conditions are. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a look at the forecast, especially when you’re planning a surf trip, or having to decide whether or not it’s a day for the golf course or the ocean...
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