Friday, July 31, 2009

Swell Forecasts

A lackluster fortnight of wind-ruined wavelessness had my friends and I bodysurfing and paddling for scraps. But things are looking up (see yellow lines approaching Robertsport). While well known surf spots are saturated with web cams and accurate metereological information, the west coast of Africa is relatively understudied. Many of the premier surf forecasting websites (subscription based, data-rich predictive tools) provide no information on Liberia. Surfline (the most expensive and notorious of the bunch) reduces the entire continent of Africa to three countries, none of them on the black African mainland. And a few other major sites have decided, confusingly, to report on Ghana, where the surf is lousy, or Ivory Coast, where I hope to surf soon.

Those few sites that even pretend to forecast for Liberia do so on the basis of "virtual buoys," which use data from hundreds of miles away and then predict what that data will look like nearer to shore. This doesn't take into account any of the coastal wind patterns that, especially in a stormy season, can pulverize something that looked beautiful on the charts.

Since people often wonder how surfers know when to wake up early and hit the water, I thought I'd share these two different (and encouraging) overviews of the waves that are coming to town this week.

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