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About: MWx Pro Surf Reports

Welcome to the newest component of the Stormsurf suite of surf weather forecasting tools: MWx Pro or short for 'Marine Weather - Professional'. It is a pro-grade set of tools designed to gain quick access to current and forecast marine weather conditions.

MWx Pro tools can be found on the homepage of our site. Upon entering Stormsurf.com you are greeted with a picture of the planet, with 57 labeled 'hot spots' that that when selected, provide detailed content for that area of the planet. There are two types of hot spots, little white ones and larger ones highlighted in red. The little ones drill-down to a specific stretch of coast (like Central Florida East Coast, or Great Britain etc). We call these 'locals'. Clearly not every stretch of beach on the planet is represented. We made a business decision to select those area that have the highest instance for significant traffic. The larger red ones cover large areas of water, like the North Pacific, South Atlantic etc. We call these 'hemispherics'. For an area not covered by a local report, use the hemispheric hot-spots. They are intended to provide a wide-angle view of a swell producing area, but in a pinch can be used to provide a good sense of local conditions too. Now let's take a look at the 'big picture'.

Homepage Menu: Mouse over the tabs at the top of the image to view global wave and weather conations. Or click either the white or red hotspots to dig into Local or Hemispheric data.

Tabs: On the home page there are also 6 tabs which run across the top of the hotspot/globe image in the middle of the page. Each tab focuses on providing a quick-look low-bandwidth image based view of a specific element of the planets marine weather. Included are: Significant Wave Height (labeled 'Sea'), Peak Swell Period, Wind Speed and Direction, Surf (the height of waves as they break onshore, be it a continent or offshore island), Atmospheric Surface Pressure and Wind, and a Jetstream chart for gathering an understanding of how the upper level of the atmosphere contributes to gale and storm formation at the oceans surface. For a detailed discussion on the production and underlying science of these images go here: Wave/Weather Models The text link in the tab connects to a Macromedia Flash animation (free Flash Player plugin required), similar to any other found on Stormsurf. The animations are built to provide a quick overview, so are in 12 hour increments (rather than the usual 6 hr increments). The usual 'control panel' is provided in the upper left hand corner of each animation to stop, step or reverse the playback. In the tab there is also an icon to the right of each text link, which in-turn links to the 00hr image in the animation. It's provided so you can copy and send it to a friend (on a MS Windows machine just right click on the image and select the 'copy' image - then paste it to your hard drive or desktop).

Navigation Hint: To return to the main menu (the picture of the planet with a wave breaking over it and white/red hotspots), just click on the red 'Menu' button centered just above the 'tabs'.

Hotspots/Local pages: Click on the hotspot chart to activate it, then mouse over any of the hot spots. A dialogue box should appear which describes the area bounded by the hot spot (works for all browsers). There is some overlap between regions, so if the area you're interested in is on the periphery of one, you can try a nearby neighbor to possibly get more info. Click on the hotspot of your choice, and a new page is displayed. All the 'local' pages are laid out the same, but the content (number of icons) changes based on available data. For example, some areas have buoys, some have buoy forecasts, while others don't. The overriding goal was to provide sufficient detail to make solid educated decisions regarding surf conditions, but not provide so much detail as to completely overwhelm the reader. Still, we probably provided a little too many options for some regions. The mainland US has a wealth of information available which should come as no surprise since the vast majority of meteorological data provided to the global weather community comes from government funded projects out of the States. Likewise the areas of the Indian Ocean have far less meteorological options. in every instance we've tried to provide the most we can within reason and based on availability.

Navigation Note: To return to the 'home page' at any time, just click on the rotating globe located on the upper left hand corner of every page in the site. You can use the Back button on your browser too, but you might have to go back through alot of data (depending on how many options you viewed on that page) before returning to the home page/main menu.

 

Hemispheric Menu: Mouse over the tabs at the top of the image to view animated wave and weather conditions. For specialized views, try the icons at the bottom of the page.

Hemispherics
When you click on one of the larger red hotspots a new page is displayed depicted either the North or South Atlantic, Pacific or the Indian Ocean. Once loaded, the default image displayed is of 00hr Surf Height. Across the top of the frame in the center of the page are 6 tabs, each providing an option to view oceanic or atmospheric imagery. The same convention is used here as on the global chart on the home page, namely text links for navigating to animations and icons for getting to the 00hr still images for archiving. All the same variables (Significant Wave Height, Swell Period, SLP/Wind, etc) are provided here as on the global view, but this time with full 6 hr increment resolution. In addition a second row of 6 tabs is provided directly below the first provided access to additional information. A hindcast animation (a compilation of all the 00hr images for the past 180 hours in 6 hr increments) is provided for Significant Wave Height and Surface Pressure and Winds. These are most helpful for understanding the conditions that generated swell which is already in the water either hitting your break or moving towards a target of interest. In addition a precipitation forecast animation and 06hr image is provided to get a sense of whether it will be raining (or snowing) upon swell arrival. Notice prescription is overlayed on a topographic view of land. We're hoping to dramatically upgrade that presentation shortly.

Below the main image frame is another set of 6 icons/options. The first 3 are what we called filtered wavemodels, in that we are filtering out some of the data to provide a clearer view of significant activity. The overriding filter is set to depict conditions capable of generating a 13 second period swell. Those conditions generally are, Significant Seas of 17 feet or greater, Swell Period 13 secs or greater, and Wind 35 kts or greater. Click the animations and compare to the unfiltered equivalent animations from the top of frame and the effect is apparent. Finally three Orthographic projection animation of the unfiltered Sea, Period and Wind data is provided. The Orthographic projection eliminates the distortion (illusion of things being larger than they really are) typical found in the north and south as compared to the standard Mercator projections. Use of these projections significantly reduces ones need to mentally superimpose great circles to sense where a swell is heading.

 

Local Menu: Mouse over the tabs at the top of the image to view animated wave and weather conditions, or click the links on the second row of tabs to view forecasts for a specific location. To drill down into any specific location, try the icons at the bottom of the page.

Locals
These are the meat of our new addition to Stormsurf. If you click on one of the small white hotspots off our homepage, a new page is displayed depicted information for the region of your choosing. It is laid out much the same as the hemispherics with default image being 00hr Surf Height. Across the top of the frame is the standard 6 tabs providing options to view oceanic and atmospheric imagery for the region. All the same variables (Significant Wave Height, Swell Period, SLP/Wind, etc) are provided. In addition the following new data is provided:

Location/Text Forecasts The second row of 6 tabs provides access to automated Text Forecasts for select locations within the region. This is all new content not found anywhere else in the site. The forecast is in 6 hour increments from the current time out 180 hours (7.5 days). Time is in GMT (click here and go to the bottom of the page for info on converting GMT to local time). Included for each time period is: Date/time, estimated surf height, swell height, significant sea height, period, direction (direction the swell is coming from using compass headings i.e. N = 0 degrees, E = 90 degrees, S = 180 degrees and W = 270 degrees), wind direction and speed. This is a simple text based tool for getting a sense of what the surf will be like for breaks in the location 1 week in advance. This data all comes directly off the Wavewatch 3 wavemodel grib file. A discussion about what a 'grib' is can be found in the link above too. Wherever possible a regional grib file is used as the source due to it's higher resolution (0.25 X 0.25) including in the West: Central America up to Canada and out to Hawaii, and in the East: Northern Brazil up to Nova Scotia including Gulf of Mexico out to the mid-Atlantic. All other locations including Europe, South Africa, South Pacific, Australia and the Indian Ocean use the lower resolution Global grib (1.0 X 1.25 deg resolution). Though not as high a fidelity as the US bound sites, it's better than nothing. The actual measurement point is defined in the top of each text forecast and is not right on the coast, but a little bit offshore. Site selection was heavily based on which grib points are closest to shore. So some heavily populated locations may be excluded because there was no data available close to the coast. Use the link above (in this paragraph) to get a sense of how much data is missing near the coast from any of the Wavewatch 3 wave products. Newer versions of the model are becoming available as we write this (10/2007) and we'll be switching over to them as time permits. But in all these provide a good high level forecast and are a great tool for those international locations where no buoy forecasts are available. Also, the big advantage these have over buoy forecasts is that they include wind forecasts.

Below the main image frame is another table packed with many options. All are detailed here, though not all are present on every local page (because not all data is available for all locations).

Special/Regional Animations: These are the bridge between the locals animation and the Hemispherics, providing a wider view of the area but not all encompassing. Different perspectives have their advantages (and disadvantages). Wherever possible the usual 6 oceanic and Atmospheric variables are displayed (Sea, Period, Wind etc.). Jetstream is not included but replaced by precipitation as the jetstream becomes nearly irrelevant at the micro level where precipitation becomes more of interest. For the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico some filtered animations are provided focusing on the 9 & 13 secs period intervals.

Buoys: These icons link you to current and recent buoy observations. This is a great way to determine what the surf is doing now and to look back and see what it has done in the past 12-72 hours. Buoy name and numbers are assigned by the National Buoy Data Center (NDBC) and Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP). The data provided is a subset of that included on our detailed buoypages. Up to three icons are provided depending on the location of the buoy. More info concerning the buoys can be found here.

Text Report: A text view of current weather conditions at the buoys is available. This is actually the display we will be using in our yet to be released cell phone buoy service. Included is the Buoy ID, Significant Wave Height (Sea Hght), our custom spectral decoding of the primary swell height (Swell Hght), the period of that swell (Swell Per), estimated surf height based on the primary swell height and period (Surf Hght), the direction the wind is blowing from (in degrees: N = 0, E = 90, S = 180, W = 270 etc), and other pertinent self-explanatory information. If you look carefully, a link is provided at the bottom of the display 'prev' to enable you to go back in-time in one hour increments a total of 12 hours. You can also step forward to return to the present using the 'next' option. If you're sharp you can view the proprieties of this page then load that URL into your web enabled cell phone browser to view any NOAA or CDIP buoy on the go. We'll eventually build user friendly menus.

Surf Height History: Clicking the next icon in the buoy section displays a simple bar graph of the surf height over the past 72 hours. This is the same surf height provided in the Text Report (above). It is available only for buoys that provide spectral data (normally limited to NOAA and CDIP buoys, not those of non-US governments).

Spectral Density Graph: For those buoys that provide spectral data, we display the spectral density graph found on our detailed buoy pages. This graph provides a quick-look at where energy spikes are concentrated across the frequency range. Peaks in the graph represent possible swell trains. The longer the period and higher the size, the larger the surf.

Map: If you want to view where the buoys are located relative to your beach, check out the 'map' link provided on the far left-hand side of the row containing the buoy links. Mouse over the buoys to view the Text Reports.

Buoy Forecasts: These icons link you to graphical surf and swell forecasts (i.e. what the surf will be in the future - not to be confused with what it is now). This data is a product of the Wavewatch III wave model, and therefore is subject to all the benefits and limitations of that model. That is, it is the highest resolution view of expected swell trains converging on a single point (up to 5 swells at any one time). The big limitation is it is most prevalent in the US, but not so much elsewhere. And no wind data is provided. Hence we provide the Text Forecasts to fill the hole. And the buoy forecasts are not always available for every location that a physical buoy is placed. We did our best to pair them up within reason. More details about buoy forecasts can be found here.

Surf Height: The first graph depicts the expected surf height based on the interaction of swell height and period generically scaled. As always, if there is significant shadowing from offshore islands or drag from shallow waters, surf height will be something less than depicted. Likewise favorable bathymetry can produce waves higher than depicted.

Primary Swell: This second graph depicts the high of the primary swell (bars), it's period (dots - be sure to use the scale on the right hand axis) and direction the swell is coming from (see text below the bar).

Location Forecast - Wave and Wind Graphs: These are graphic representations of the data presented in the Text Forecasts, for those more graphically inclined. There are two images available, one for Surf and the other for Wind.

The Surf image is a classic bar graph with the height depicted in red bars scaled up the y axis and time running across the bottom x axis (starting at present at the far left). Swell height is superimposed in small unfilled yellow circles and peak period is represented by the filled blue circles. Please note that the scale for the period values runs up the right y axis while the scale for surf and swell height runs up the left y axis. Time is in GMT with 00Z starting at the labeled tick marks.

The Wind image is a typical point-plot graph with wind speed (in knots) depicted by the red dots and speed running up the y axis while time runs across the bottom x axis (miles per hours X 1.15 = kts). All the same conventions apply as in the previous image. The big difference here is the addition of a unique wind direction and speed indicator depicted by the arrows running across the bottom of the graph. The stronger the wind speed, the longer the arrow. The arrow points in the direction the wind is blowing with north being the top of the page, south the bottom, east to the right and west to the left (just like looking at a map). So a long arrow pointed to the lower right corner of the page represents strong northwest winds, while a tiny arrow pointed straight up represents light south winds. The exact speed can be determined by reviewing the red dots. Pretty cool!

Tides: Rather than building the tide charts ourselves, we've linked to a very well respected educational site at the University of South Carolina. They have a huge database of worldwide tides, so it was an obvious choice. Tides are provided for whatever site was nearest the location of the text/location forecasts. In some instances outside the US you'll notice a rather wide disparity between those locations. Tides are not available for all locations worlds wide (sometime due to politics), and once you start looking at the complexity of the coast you'll see there are literally an infinite number of possible tide measurement locations. We did the best we could with limited resources. If you have better resource for a specific location (that can fit in the frame and is not copyrighted) please pass the exact URL along and we'd be happy to included it.

Other: Finally we provide a catch-all bin of useful information. A infrared satellite image of the region is typically provided, sometimes better in some locations than other. Also a Great Circle chart (or two) is included so you can assess whether wind energy is actually aimed towards your break. More info can be found here: Great Circles. Finally 'Jump To' links provide quick navigational access to other key information buried within the site. Typically it 'jumps up/zooms out' to a hemispheric view of your region, or links to a QuikCAST or detailed Surf Forecast.

 

Conclusion
We are proud of the addition of MWx Pro to our site and hope you find it useful. It is intended to provide quick access to pertinent marine weather information so you can get what you need and move on. Not everything we offer can be found here, so if you need more detail, just follow the links on the navigation bar near the top of every page. If you have any problems or find things that either don't work or don;t make sense, please let us know and we'll get right on it. Thanks for spending time at Stormsurf.

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