WA buoy data

campbell's picture
campbell started the topic in Thursday, 23 May 2024 at 9:11am

Just wondering where the buoy readings on the swellnet surf report for Margaret River come from? quite often (like today) they are very different to the naturaliste buoy? Today Nat is 1.61 @12 seconds (surf is about 3 ft ) the report is calling it 3-5 and the buoy reading you have is 2.3 @13.8 , happens a fair bit . Overcalling the surf report is subjective due to the reporter but the buoys reading are real time.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Thursday, 6 Jun 2024 at 4:12pm

hey Campbell, the Cape Nat buoy is not actually reporting standard wave parameters, but filtered data of "sea" heights and "swell" heights. I've had issues with the WA buoy network for years as it's (1) a step away from oceanographic convention, (2) sometimes misleading, and (3) certainly not useful to verify surf conditions (for example, we never see the usual Tp trace for long period groundswells, i.e. when it jumps to 20 seconds and then slowly eases - so it's hard to assess the swell phase).

As for our forecast data point, it's sitting around 5km offshore but exposed west-facing mid-latitude coasts like WA locations are notorious for producing sub standard forecasts data points, for a few reasons - the main one being that most swells originate from the same direction, so unless there are significant variations in their spectral signature (i.e. big gaps in their period) then it'll often combine all of the swell energy together and call it a single swell train - when there could be two or three in the mix.

We have a new version of our wave model about to go live soon (been in testing for a few years) and this should improve things a little more - but the WA buoy network is a seperate issue.