swell.co.za now has a surfcam that predicts the future.
The camera takes a photo of the surf every three hours, and places it in an archive. It uses this archive to match-up future forecasts with repeats of past conditions, and presents the user with a photographic guess of how the surf will look like on a particular day, at a series of times throughout the day. Use the 'pic' function in the calculator to choose from 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm. Mouse over the image to access the magnifying glass.
An archive of past surf conditions is also available by accessing the calculator and choosing an earlier date.
We are stoked with the results it's producing, but we'll spare everyone the obligatory round of rotten fruit throwing by telling you what the weaknesses are up front.
• Until the camera is moved to a better location, you may get the occasional pic of the guy washing my windows.
• As the archive grows, so too will the quality of future guesses.
• The camera takes a photo on the hour. It doesn't wait for a set. Use your own surf knowledge to interpret the photo.
• All the guesses are left on display, no matter how good or bad. We're always working on improving the alogirthm. Use the compare tab to see our progress.
Despite the weaknesses, when we compare the predictive picture to what actually happens, we are happy with the system. There are of course some rubbish guesses, and the occasional truly awful one, but the majority of guesses are close and useful. It's a load of fun to use, and we don't know of anyone else who has such a system. Feel free to correct us if there is, either way we're doing it.
Watch swell.co.za for some more exciting developments.
NB! Try the experimental model for one-hourly predictions.
The forecast could include technical, typographical, and human errors. Satellite photos of the earth provided by NASA’s Earth Observatory. Unmodified wave information on the main page is provided by wavewatch-III. The experimental page contains modified content, and should be treated as precisely that: modified and experimental. It contains its own important disclaimer at the top.