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Papatea Bay Swell Statistics, January: All Swell – Any Wind

The graph describes the variation of swells directed at Papatea Bay over a normal January and is based upon 2868 NWW3 model predictions since 2007 (values every 3 hours). The wave model does not forecast wind or surf right at the coast so we have chosen the best grid node based on what we know about Papatea Bay, and at Papatea Bay the best grid node is 22 km away (14 miles).

The rose diagram illustrates the distribution of swell directions and swell sizes, while the graph at the bottom shows the same thing but lacks direction information. Five colours illustrate increasing wave sizes. Blue shows the smallest swells, less that 0.5m (1.5 feet) high. These were forecast only 49% of the time. Green and yellow represent increasing swell sizes and red shows the highest swells, greater than >3m (>10ft). In either graph, the area of any colour is proportional to how frequently that size swell happens.

The diagram suggests that the dominant swell direction, shown by the biggest spokes, was NNE, whereas the the dominant wind blows from the NW. Because the wave model grid is out to sea, sometimes a strong offshore wind blows largest waves away from Papatea Bay and offshore. We lump these in with the no surf category of the bar chart. To keep it simple we don't show these in the rose plot. Because wind determines whether or not waves are good for surfing at Papatea Bay, you can load a different image that shows only the swells that were predicted to coincide with glassy or offshore wind conditions. During a typical January, swells large enough to cause clean enough to surf waves at Papatea Bay run for about 51% of the time.

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.

FEATURE UPDATE: we now show red swell icons for 'open sea' swells that are travelling in an unfavourable direction for the surf break. In places, these swells may still wrap around coastlines and produce smaller waves at some breaks. They are also significant for windsurfers and other water users that tend to venture further off-shore.