Filed: Updates

The Worst Summer on Record


As some of you may have noticed, Buoy Alarm experienced some spotty Twitter service this summer, with the stations going offline for a period of nearly two months. This was completely our fault. We were unprepared for a Twitter API deprecation that left our publishing script unable to properly authenticate. The fix was trivial, but finding time to debug, code, and deploy a solution took months.

Buoy Alarm is maintained on a part-time basis by myself and @aaronvb. It’s a free service, which means we’re not bound to service level agreements, or overwhelmed by a flood of support tickets when an issue occurs. It also means we generate zero revenue. The app is fueled by our own passion for the ocean and software development, a strange mixture of salt water and code, and continued commitment to this service we’ve built.

Ten months ago I accepted a full-time position at Marinexplore, and while I naively expected to continue working on Buoy Alarm during my free time, I quickly learned that doing so was unrealistic. Long hours at a startup leaves little room for much of anything else, and spending those precious few hours writing more software left me feeling unbalanced. I have no regrets for choosing friends, surfing, and sleep instead.

Fortunately, Buoy Alarm is rather autonomous, and required little to no effort on our behalf for much of the year. Then in June the Twitter API crapped out. More recently, the NOAA forecast data that we parse began to report inconsistent column values, causing wave heights that were obviously wrong. Both issues lingered for quite some time before we could even investigate them. Twitter feeds were eventually fixed, but forecasts have been disabled until we can clarify the source file issue with NOAA.

Issues are bound to happen, I’m actually surprised something didn’t break sooner, but our inability to respond to them in a timely fashion is something that concerns me. I think our users deserve better, but it’s the best we can currently do, and unfortunately the situation is unlikely to change any time soon. Thanks for hanging in there.



New Kaneohe Bay Station Deployed

I just watched the movie Battleship the other night. Aside from some awesome braddah-braddah cameos and a sprinkling of pidgeon, it’s mainly explosions. But there is a scene where the Japanese captain uses a buoy grid off of Oahu to track an alien ship’s movement.

Now my suspension of disbelief is okay with weird-handed extraterrestrial invaders leap-frogging their way across the ocean, but immediate wave height data from a buoy and a grid that seems to contain a station every 20 miles? Yeah, right.

The good news is that a new Kaneohe Bay station has recently been deployed and is reporting detailed swell data. You can also find it on Twitter at @buoy51207.

Hawaii Updates/

The North Pacific Isn’t Finished Yet

The latest Wavewatch forecast shows a sizable northwest swell building in the East Pacific. Keep an eye on this storm to see how things develop, as this is currently at the tail end of the model’s 180-hour range and is subject to revision. Given favorable conditions, initial estimates place the swell’s arrival in Hawaii on the 25th of March.

March 18th Update – Major Downgrade in the Forecast

Well, there’s a reason why the long-range models are subject to revision. 54 hours later and the large NW system that was previously forecast has vanished. The forecast now shows moderate NNW and NNE energy building on Wednesday into Thursday of this week, with swell conditions of 5-6 feet at 10-11 seconds expected.


IBA World Tour – 2012 Pipe Challenge

The 2012 Pipe Challenge, the first event on the 2012 IBA World Tour, is set to kick-off tomorrow with an unbelievable forecast. A solid northwest swell is expected to build quickly Wednesday afternoon, likely pushing the limits of what Pipeline can handle, with potential for some 2nd reef wash throughs late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Here’s a look at the latest 5-day forecast for the Waimea Bay station (@buoy51201). As you can see, long-period northwest surf in the 6-10+ range is expected through Saturday, with east to east-northeast winds increasing in strength into the weekend.

Look for a variety of Pipe and Backdoor waves to kick off the event tomorrow, but as the swell increases overnight into Thursday morning, expect the rights to start shutting down as swell conditions peak in the 10 feet at 15 seconds range.

The biggest, baddest surf will definitely be on Thursday, so be sure to tune-in to the live webcast for all the action. For more information, check out the IBA World Tour website.


Mavericks – February 8th, 2012

Buoy 46012 - Half Moon Bay (Mavericks) Surf February 8, 2012

Here’s a look at the real-time wave reports from Half Moon Bay (@buoy46012) yesterday. Solid 15-second swell energy in the 12-15 foot range. Throw some light winds into the mix and this is what you get.

Buoy Alarm is a resource for ocean enthusiasts and we’re very close to launching. If personalized real-time alarms, access to historical surf conditions, and a detailed swell forecast interest you, we encourage you to join our invite list.


East Pacific – XXL Swell in the Long-Range Forecast

A significant swell is showing in the long-range East Pacific model, with Buoy 46006 (SE PAPA, 600 NM West of Eureka, CA) forecast to reach 33 feet at 13 seconds (W 276°) on Friday, January 20th.

The long-range model is subject to revision, but the forecast for Half Moon Bay is currently showing swell conditions approaching 23 feet at 15 seconds (WNW 292°) by Saturday afternoon (1/21).

We’ll be keeping an eye on the models to see how this swell develops over the next few days.

January 19th Update: Swell Sightly Downgraded

The swell is a bit smaller than initially forecast, with swell conditions at @buoy46006 now expected to peak Friday afternoon at 29 feet at 13 seconds (W 266°). The Half Moon Bay buoy is expected to build rapidly on Saturday and peak in the evening at 21 feet at 14 seconds (WNW 290°).