Understanding Surfline's Regional Forecast Pages

For our team of human surf meteorologists that prepare reports and forecasts 365 days a year, the “regional” forecast is our bread and butter product. The most critical thing to understand about these pages is that they are for regions, not spots. Everyone in the room knows that the surf can vary drastically from one spot to the next, even if those spots are just a few miles away. We also appreciate the fact that there is a demand for point-based spot forecasts, as well. So why even do regional forecasts, you may ask.  

That’s a question we get asked a lot actually, and the answer isn’t easy. The main reason we issue a “Regional” forecast is because it helps us consolidate a bunch of information into one place and one number. We look at this product as a summary of pretty much everything we have on Surfline -- essentially making it so you don’t have to sort through all of the models, charts and data we and other sites offer.  

We also offer a ton of LOTUS spot forecasts, but we don’t expect everyone to analyze every one of these up and down the coast. Plus, solving surf heights and conditions on the spot level is incredibly complex and dynamic. Any imperfections in the incoming deep water swell information or bathymetry, for example, and you can get large errors. And of course, sandbars change, and while we have insight on a lot of that local knowledge, we don’t want to give it all away.  

The regional forecast boxes are intended to give you a general idea of what the surf will be like for the better, more exposed breaks in a particular region on any given swell combination during the morning hours. Inside those boxes and in our premium analyses under the dashboard, we’ll talk about how we expect things to change through the day, what portions of the region may be bigger or better than others, and other details. Using this one-stop shopping product, the other tools on Surfline, and perhaps most important –- doing a little homework on the dynamic details in your area –- is our best advice for getting the most out of your surf forecast.  

Here are a few key things to consider when using our regional forecast:  

  1. These forecasts are for the better, more exposed breaks in a region during the morning hours. BUT be sure to read what we write inside the boxes to get the details such as how things will change through the day.  
  2. Spots in the same region will have different surf heights and conditions at the same time. That’s OK. We suggest reading what we have to say in the boxes, using our other tools (such as LOTUS spot forecasts), and doing a little homework and field research to really fine tune your surf time.
  3. Our team of human meteorologists create the “colored boxes” through Day 7. After that, the LOTUS model takes over with the grey boxes.  
  4. The color of the boxes represents how good, bad, or ugly we think the surf will be in the morning hours based on local winds, tides, other factors and years of experience. Read more about our ratings of surf heights and quality.
  5. The forecasts are updated twice daily in many locations now -– once in the morning by 9am local time that focuses on the short term, and a full update by 7pm local time.  
  6. We have an algorithm in place that is intended to stabilize the error associated with long-range LOTUS forecasts after Day 7. You aren’t just getting raw model data here, you’re getting post-processed information that has been through the ringer. 
  7. The Best Bet portion of the regional forecasts is intended to give you an edge on things like which part of the next day the surf will be the best or which general areas may see the best surf/conditions.  
  8. Our meteorologists will give advice on additional tools that are useful, provide insight on the “why” part of the forecast and talk about the meteorology in the Premium Analysis section at the bottom of these pages. In other words, this is where to go if you really want to geek out and learn about surf forecasting.  


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