Surf forecasting on the Great Lakes is challenging, and has many important parts of the equation: Wind direction, wind speed, wind duration, amount of fetch (distance wind blows & waves travel across the lake — the greater the fetch, the bigger the wave). Also the bottom contours of the lake over which the waves are breaking is very important as well as air vs. water temperatures (colder, dense air vs. warmer water for best surf), and low pressure vs. high pressure systems. 

Recreational Beach Forecast:

NOAA Surf Forecast

 

 

NOAA Graphical Forecast

 

Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System

Shows ice cover, air & water temperature, cloud cover, wind & waves throughout the Great Lakes.

 


Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System (GLCFS) – A color coded, 5-day wave map for all of the Great Lakes. 

Direct information from Lake Michigan Buoys:

https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/maps/WestGL.shtml?_ga=2.204701080.907917056.1566136415-1535883053.1558471402
This will give you real-time data to show you wave heights, water temperature, and wind speed & direction in the open water.

iWindsurf: Simple, trusted wind forecasting source (remember, a north wind comes from the north and blows south, and visa versa). There is also an App available for iPhone users.

http://www.iwindsurf.com/windandwhere.iws?regionID=210&_ga=2.79189969.411652723.1564255408-1535883053.1558471402

iWindsurf provides meteograms to show wind strength, direction and duration. What you’d be looking for here is a strong wind (at least 10-15mph) from the same direction for a sustained period of time (6-12 hours or more). In the spring and summer time, when the air is much warmer than the water, we may need stronger winds, for a longer duration to provide waves, whereas in the fall and winter time the denser cold air allows waves to form much easier with shorter wind periods or relatively lighter winds. 

Also, you can look for a drop in pressure or low pressure systems moving across the lake to help predict waves as well. Refer to your trusted weather station for this information. Our preferred is wunderground.com 

Now, look at a map of the lakeshore near you. Can you pin point spots that might hold a cleaner wave and provide protection for waves to wrap in around? What beaches around you might receive the longest amount of fetch connected to the beach, and what wind direction might work at that particular beach?

We urge you to experiment with your newly acquired knowledge! The Great Lakes are beautifully unpredictable— enjoy the search!