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Forecast Surf at Your Beach!
by Robin Marks

So, you can take a break from work next week and surf? Which day will offer you the best waves? Using information online, you can estimate when the sweetest swells will roll your way.

In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains hundreds of satellites that orbit the earth, sending back pictures and data about weather conditions. In addition, NOAA and agencies from other countries keep buoys along the coasts and in the open ocean to monitor waves and wind.

These resources can help you make predictions about surf anywhere on the globe. The town of Santa Cruz, just south of the Exploratorium, is famous for its surfing culture. Using that location as an example, we'll take you step-by-step through a surf-prediction process, gathering current weather data from Web sites. At the end of each step, you'll find a Web address where you can access the same information for your own beach.

Remember, though, that any forecasting is just that—forecasting. Nature doesn't always follow the course we predict. So on the day you're set to head out, you might want to check the latest data to make sure the waves are still on track.

To make your prediction, you'll need a connection to the Web, some paper, a pen, and a calculator. A printer might come in handy too.

Ready? Let's go!


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