Understanding Surfline's Surf Reports/Short-Term Forecasts

Know before you go, the basis of what Surfline's reports and forecasts are all about. Should I go surfing now? Or will the surf be better in a few hours? A few years ago we started re-thinking our surf report pages with the idea of giving surfers the most valuable info possible. Instead of just giving the state of current conditions we wanted to add what to expect in the immediate/near term time frame as well.

Sure we had detailed dawn patrol and afternoon surf reports, but as all surfers know, conditions change quickly throughout the day and a surf report issued at 7am can often be ‘timed out’ so to speak, within 30 minutes to an hour (if not sooner). With that in mind, we implemented a new format including a short term forecast for the rest of the day, along with the region wide overview of current surf size and quality.

On each surf report page, directly under the camera window there is a Dawn Patrol/Morning report which is updated within 15-30 minutes of sunrise everyday of the year. That is followed by an afternoon update, issued between 12pm and 2pm every single day as well, outside of major holidays. Of note - these have always been a free service, for anybody to view. This is where we provide a region wide overview of surf/wind conditions at that particular time, as well as detailed information on surf size and quality for each specific spot. By eliminating a text description of each individual break (as we previously did) we found we can concentrate on primarily watching/rating the surf height and quality to provide a more timely and accurate report, as well as focusing more on how things will change through the day in the short term forecast. Of course if you don't like or agree with the reports, there is always the option to simply use the HD cams and decide for yourself if the surf is good or not.

We create these reports using a network of various tools: everything from buoys, wave models and forecast charts to simply watching the HD cams and even having human spotters on the beach call in a description of the surf to Surfline. In addition to that, part of the job is to actually surf the areas we report on, which gives us all a good amount of local knowledge, which we also utilize when issuing the surf reports.

In addition to that, we now offer a short term forecast, located just below the current surf report. The value of a short-term forecast is almost invaluable, especially as far as the surf is concerned. Surf quality can change rapidly, for better or worse, and with that in mind we added this short-term forecast which is focused on what the surf/wind is expected to do for the remainder of that day or at least the next few hours.

The value of this short term forecast cannot be overstated. This is where we give you details on what the surf/winds/tides etc… are going to do for the next few hours. The value of this added human reporting/forecasting can go a long way in saving surfers time and money, enabling them to plan a surf session more accurately.

Adding even more value to these report pages, we also provide local buoy obs as well as LOTUS surf heights/winds for additional guidance. Everything one needs to make the call in a single place, a pretty ideal product for surfers. However, it's important to keep in mind; if you notice a difference between our reports/short term forecasts and LOTUS, the human produced products always supersede the models. 

As with everything surf report and forecast related on Surfline, we rely on user feedback to make them as accurate and valuable as possible. Feel free to Submit a request and select Forecasting Accuracy with any questions/concerns.

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