Reading Ocean Conditions
by Storm Steiger
|The following might be of some
help, but nothing takes the place of actual on-the-water
The first thing you should think about is the tide.
Is the tide increasing or decreasing? Is it minor or major? Generally, waves at low tide break in shallow water, and further out. Waves at high tide break in deeper water, closer in.
Look at the beach slope and beach direction.
Does the beach face the swell and wind wave direction?
Northern California's swell and wind direction is predominately out of the NW. Any beach facing the NW direction will be exposed to higher surf and wind.
South-facing beaches generally have less wind and surf.
The third major factor is swell and wind waves.
Swells are created by Pacific storms, and can be read generally by the season. There are always exceptions, but the most active time for these storms are October 15 through April 15.
During the other half of the year, April 16 through October 14, the storms are active in the tropics and in the Southern Hemisphere. We become subject to infrequent south swells from dissipating tropical storms and hurricanes.
Wind waves are created by local wind conditions and are common during the summer.
6-day Ocean Condition Forecast
click on "NGP" under "EASTPAC",
then select the very last "All Times"
for Ocean Waves and Surface Winds.
Harder to get to, but worth the effort.
Satellite Sea Surface Winds
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copyright Storm Steiger 1999