Swellcast - Aussie surf forecasts remodelled
Australian Surf Forecasts. Remodelled.
The new swellcast has something for everyone.
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 November, 2012 : - - Swellcast is a new surforecast platform developped and run by Ray Stone. Ray, a surfer for 25 years, and self-confessed onshore wind junkie, liveing in Perth, Western Australia. Swellcast takes the same raw forecast data behind all surf forecast services, and boils it down into a simple, intuitive interface. Rather than provide inaccurate forecasts for individual surf spots, swellcast covers broader areas or traditional swell indicators, providing raw data to inform your decision making.
How it works
The home page displays a short outlook for the first 3 locations nearest to you. Click through for a full 7 day forecast graph with all available parameters. Forecasts are provided for three-hourly steps. Each graph highlghts the next forecast for that location in local time. On a desktop device you can mouse over each bar on the graph to display the swell and wind parameters for each point in time.
About the Data
Most live wind readings are updated every 30 minutes. Some stations are updated less frequently. Forecast data is updated every 6 hours. The data is sourced from a variety of providers, mainly the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Wave Watch III program, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Where to from here?
This is just the beginning. Most importantly, expect more Australian locations to be added toward the end of 2012.
At this time all swellcast data comes from the Wave Watch III program, a pretty intense physical and mathematical modelling system run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agency in the US. Think smart dudes in white lab coats with degrees in oceanography, salty hair, and a nasal drip from the morning surf.
This model is serious stuff, taking into consideration refraction, water depth, tides and currents etc. NOAA run the model and publish fresh data every six hours, every day. The data is published in gridded binary format, or GRIB, i.e. data corresponding to grid points across the planet. Each grid point has forecast data for each three hourly interval out to 180 hours from the model run time. This makes for one large data set!
Each location published on swellcast has at least one grid point nearby. But here’s the thing – some of these locations are closer to a grid point than others, resulting in different levels of accuracy, particularly in relation to wind.
A great example of this is Perth, Western Australia, where the nearest grid point is significantly offshore. In winter, between cold fronts, inshore land breezes sometimes blow easterly for a brief period in the morning. This kind of local wind event flies under the radar of the NOAA model, but not those with the local knowledge.
Thankfully these quirks are the exception to the rule, and overall the raw data provides a very reliable indication of what to expect.
Author: The Editors
Tags: Surf Forecasts