This image shows only the swells directed at Californias that coincided with light winds or offshore conditions through a typical northern hemisphere autumn and is based upon 5144 predictions, one every 3 hours. The direction of the spokes show where quality surf generating swell comes from. Five colours illustrate increasing wave sizes. Blue shows the smallest swells, less that 0.5m (1.5 feet) high. Green and yellow illustrate increasing swell sizes and red represents highest swells greater than >3m (>10ft). In either graph, the area of any colour is proportional to how commonly that size swell happens.
The diagram implies that the most common swell direction, shown by the longest spokes, was N, whereas the the dominant wind blows from the NE. The chart at the bottom shows the same thing but without direction information. For example, swells larger than 1.5 feet (0.5m) coincided with good wind conditions 28% of the time, equivalent to 25 days. Open water swells exceeding >3m (>10ft) only arise 0.9% of the time in a typical northern hemisphere autumn, equivalent to just one day but 11% of the time we expect swell in the range 2-3m (6.5-10ft) 11%, equivalent to (10 days). Taking into account the fraction of these swells that coincided with predicted offshore winds, and given the fact that Californias is slightly protected from open water swells, we estimate that clean surf can be found at Californias about 28% of the time and that surf is blown out by onshore wind 15% of the time. This is means that we expect 39 days with waves in a typical northern hemisphere autumn, of which 25 days should be surfable.
IMPORTANT: Beta version feature! Swell heights are open water values from NWW3. There is no attempt to model near-shore effects. Coastal wave heights will generally be less, especially if the break does not have unobstructed exposure to the open ocean.