Are you a WAIF?
You know, a Weather App Icon Forecaster?
My wife is.
How do I know?
Because we don’t plan trips to Bondi Beach on 30 degree blue sky days when there’s a nice wave on, because it’s going to be thunderstorms with huge surf.
Her: “What are we doing Sunday?”
Me: “Let’s spend all day at the beach.”
Her: “It’s going to be thunderstorms and huge surf.”
Me: “Is that what the icons show?”
Her: “Yes. Rain cloud with a lightning symbol, and 4-6 foot on the chart.”
Smartphones have brought an awesome amount of information into the palm of our hands, but I’m convinced they’re making us dumber.
Take the situation above. Beneath the all-encompassing weather app icon, it was actually going to be stinking hot all day, with a light offshore breeze, until a 30-minute thunderstorm rolled in the early evening.
The swell height may have been significant, but it was coming from the NE, so the sheltered north end of Bondi was only getting gentle 2-footers.
I’d say that’s a perfect beach day (with the bonus of getting to watch hapless tourists caught out scampering to the bus stops drenched from head to toe).
When making decisions about whether or not it’s going to be a good day for an ocean swim, you’re going to need to dig deeper than the superficial weather icon and the “scary’ swell height chart.
Single elements of the weather, or surf forecast, when viewed alone, can never paint the real picture of what you can expect at the beach.
For example, big surf can be diminished by greater wave distance and low wave energy, and strong winds could be more of a nuisance in open stretches of the beach, than sheltered corners.
Start by learning which way your beach faces, this will be at the heart of your new local beach forecasting.
Better still, next time you’re at the beach, ask an old salty dog to give you tips on predicting local conditions, their skin is weathered with knowledge.