First thing you'll notice with the new site is some changes to the styling, but that's not really what we want to talk about here. We hope it makes the site easier on the eye and easier to navigate but we know from past changes some people will like it others not - fundamentally we haven't changed anything we hope was working, your experience navigating and using the site should be pretty much as it was.
More importantly at the heart of the website we've made some important changes to the forecast. To understand and adjust to them you'll need to read this, although the changes are in some respects relatively minor they should really improve your forecast IF you know what to look out for. We know from our own experience now exactly what conditions to check for to make a decent wave at our local beach, likewise for every spot we list if the forecast changes that call will change slightly and you need to understand how it's changed to take it into account.
Updated 22nd Jan We have been finding some locations where the new data is showing some strange results - perhaps it's over estimating the shadow of a local headland or island and with a small adjustment we can fix this and really improve the forecast. If you are having trouble with the new data or any aspect of the changes please do email us (contact link is at the bottom of the page). As always we rely on surfers around the world to see what we can't and help us make MSW as useful and accurate as possible.
We've broken the new elements of the forecast down into just a few pages - it's not a long read but we'd really hope it'll be useful to everyone using the website.
Many thanks to everyone who sent feedback on the new site as we went through testing it and anyone with a constructive opinion on these changes now we'd be keen to hear from you, just post a comment below. As always this isn't the 'finished' version of the website - we're working every day to try to continue improving how it works and what we can offer.
HIGH RESOLUTION DATA
Our forecasts are all now based on a new set of data that's more detailed than our old product. This means that the forecast is better able to understand how the waves head to your local beach, how they slow as they approach the coast and how something like an obstructing island blocks the swell. Particularly in the US and Hawaii the forecast is much better able to see how even a headland will create a swell shadow.
The easiest way to demostrate this is to check out these two charts for Cape Cod:
With the first you'll see the swell hit the mainland almost as though the Cape and the Islands don't exists. Not surprising as the model is too coarse to even see them. With the second chart you get a real idea of the impact of Nantucket on the swell reaching the Cape and the huge importance of the Cape geography to spots like Ruggles or any other location either side. The new detailed forecast for these spots will reflect this huge improvement in the data.
None of this means you won't need a healthy pinch of local knowledge to make the most of the forecast and especially outside the US the data will still miss those little local factors that you can learn to adjust for. We've also noticed that in some areas the winds are hugely improved, and in others (our local beach) we're not so sure. To help you get to grips with the new forecast you can click the 'Lowres' button and see the old forecast exactly as it was before.
DETAILED 3 HOURLY REPORTS
Now as you're browsing your forecast you can just click on any day or hour to see a really detailed break down of what's going on. This will, most importantly, show you a breakdown of swells at that moment, seperating that strong north swell from a smaller long period south swell and splitting the wind out seperately. It'll also give you an estimated idea of the breaking wave size and compare the new forecast with the old forecast for that time.
The old ratings didn't take into account the direction of the swell. Crucial you might think? Well we were working on the basis that with a little local knowledge you could use the rating to find a beach not listed that might be on with a great swell, even if it didn't hit the main beach. The problem was that strong local winds could create a swell never heading towards your spot and show a couple of stars, or a low period wind swell might obscure a small long period gem. With the new system we DO include the swell direction AND we run through all the swells running. A 5ft windswell might get no stars but if there's a sneaky 3ft of long period stuff running under it we'll spot that and the rating will let you know. It's still intended as a guide, but it should be a much more trustworthy one.
One of the most asked for improvements to the forecast was the ability to see the long range swell and wind alongside the daily tides. Pretty simple stuff and we've finally managed to sort it out. Hit the 'Show Daily Tides' button above the forecast and you get the daily graph AND the forecast on the same page.
You'll notice the animated charts have changed. While we're still working on many improvements to these the first thing to mention is the use the new, more detailed data. We've also made them larger (although if they're too big you have a size option at the top of the page)
At the bottom of the page you have the chance to find other charts in the same area and zoom in or out.
Until we improve this page to replace all the options of the old chart player you can still access this through the link at the top of the page.
On the forecast pages you can now choose which chart you want to view and, as before, as you move your mouse over the forecast the chart for each day will load into the display. Really useful we hope for comparing the local detailed surf forecast with a chart of the area.
A while back we introduced new, interactive, maps to the home page for every region. We loved them but many people found them slow to load. We've removed them by default, but introduced a new larger version of this surf map for anyone who liked it. You can get to it from the top of every regions page or clicking here:
We've been blown away by the huge number of great photos we get submitted every day. With the new website you'll see on your local spot forecast that you can now, alongside photos, submit video and news, view and events. This is fully moderated (so we can ensure the same high quality as the photos) but if you have an article or blog about local surfing, run a local event (beach clean, surf club or anything else of interest) hit the 'add your local news' button to get started.