John Vonderlin: How to Watch Waves

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: [email protected]


Hi June,
Living so close to the beach you may find this website,, useful. They have all the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A.) and other sources for swell, tides, weather etc. that would be useful for surfers. Click on the NorCal link once you get to the website and you can see an animated prediction of swell size, as well as graphs for the next week.
By Tuesday, as this increasingly potent-appearing storm arrives,¬†the swell will be growing, with it being about 15 feet by Thursday. I’m going to try to be out there by Wednesday, to see what might have brought in, as well as documenting the hoped for nmovement of beach sand offshore, typical of strong storms.
This site and similar ones are used by the Maverick’s folks, or big wave surfers in general, to give them some lead time to prepare for a pilgrimage to their favorite spots. One cool feature on the site is you can tell them your favorite surf area and personal swell size requirement, and they will send you an email when it is likely to occur. Enjoy. John