Understanding LOLA Spot Forecasts

The LOLA Spot Forecast is nothing new to many of our users, but for those unfamiliar with them it’s time you get acquainted. These forecasts are the crème de la crème of their kind, forecasting out 16 days of LOLA goodness combined with optimal condition data to help you score. 

While we always suggest using our human written forecast as the final word, because models have their moments, these pages can serve as a one-stop shop for areas where those lovely colored boxes from the human forecaster aren’t available. Further, even where there are human forecast products available these provide a great spot-specific tool to help you lock into some great waves.

So what is it that makes these so powerful, you ask? Let us first go over the groundwork of what these pages represent. First and foremost, these pages are driven entirely by LOLA and are just one tool you should use in your overall Surfline experience to find good surf. We say this because LOLA is a computer model, not a human, and slight imperfections in incoming data can lead to inaccuracies when trying to resolve something as complex as breaking wave heights on the spot level across a global scale.  

With the air clear, let's talk LOLA Spot Forecasts. The first thing you see when coming to one of these pages, navigating from the dropdowns on either the regional forecast or report pages, is a snapshot of the breaking wave heights over the next 16 days in bar chart form. Below the four time-steps each day (the four bars) is the primary swell direction and period for that snapshot in time. Scroll over one of these bars, and you can see the top three offshore swells LOLA is resolving into surf height. Note that swells moving away from the spot of interest are automatically filtered out. Further, these predicted surf heights are resolved based on the best available bathymetry which has been used to create a nearshore grid for every single spot forecast we offer. If you have your favorite spots dialed, you could make a pretty good judgment on whether or not these parameters will make them tick. If not? Keep reading.  

Below the surf heights for each day, you’ll find predicted wind at the spot level. With the regional forecast dashboards, the winds you see are related to one point. This is great for an overview of winds region-wide, but we all know that winds can vary significantly a few miles down the coast. That’s what makes the winds on our spot forecasts so valuable…they are predicted winds for that spot. These winds have traditionally been a product of lower resolution global models, but not any more! For many, in areas where we produce our own proprietary High-Res winds charts, the winds you are seeing on the spot forecast pages are some of the highest resolution winds available.  

To further visualize things, and provide added value to our users, all of this swell and wind data is combined with the wealth of knowledge that comes with being in the forecast business for 30 years. Querying for prime swell direction, swell height, swell period, and wind, we highlight when the stars align. Light yellow, and either the swell or wind is good for the spot. Bump either of those values up to optimal and we’re talking a darker shade of yellow. If both the swell and wind are optimal you’ll see the darker yellow with an orange Surfline logo overtop. Good times are coming.  

LOLA Spot Forecast products are an ever-growing, evolving entity. Whether it’s tweaking output based on feedback from users or updating the nearshore conditions that drive surf height calculations, we’re always working to improve our spot forecasts. So if you have feedback on the spot forecasts you’ve been using or are in an area we don't cover, Submit a request and select Forecasting Accuracy with any questions/concerns.

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