Kat, where are you from and when did you learn to surf and where?
I am originally from Hertfordshire, just north of London but moved to Exeter for a job last year (best move ever)! Strangely enough, I was introduced to surfing whilst living in land locked Hertfordshire, by an ex-boyfriend. We ventured to Cornwall a few years back, to the famous Fistral Beach where I had my first experience putting on a wetsuit and wondering why I couldn’t just ‘pop up’ on my board like everyone else.
Where do you surf mainly now?
Saunton in North Devon is my go to spot. As a beginner/intermediate surfer, I have found it the perfect beginner beach to practise and improve. Depending on the conditions and how confident I’m feeling, I like to venture down to Watergate Bay too in Cornwall. It’s such a beautiful location.
What’s the surf forecasting site about, and how did it come about?
I have a YouTube channel where I upload my surf forecast for the weekend ahead in the southwest. It’s in a pretty relaxed format, a bit like a vlog where I also include what I’ve been up to, whether that’s volunteering with The Wave Project, attending local events or just general chit chat. Between the weekly videos, I also provided daily forecast summaries on my Instagram (@kats_surf_forecasts), I couldn’t do it without the amazing photographers capturing the beauty of the southwest though.
The idea for the channel came about soon after moving to Exeter and watching my local weather forecast on TV. I noticed the presenter giving a brief summary of the surf conditions and simply wondered if there was a gap for a ‘surf forecast presenter’? So, I decided to try it out myself! It has been an amazing journey so far that has not only taught me a great deal about surf science, but has also helped boost my confidence on camera, which was one of the main reasons for the channel.
Is it hard to learn, what are the basics of forecasting? What do you need to know to predict good surf?
Having a degree in Environmental Sciences has been a big help in learning the fundamentals but it definitely takes time to fully understand all the intricacies – something of which I’m still doing.
We’re very lucky these days to have such a vast amount of data available to us on the internet and I’d say it’s worth any surfer taking the time to understand this information on at least a basic level i.e. swell period/direction, wave height and the winds. When producing the forecast for my channel, I check data from a variety of sources to create my own final assessment. One thing to mention is good surf for one person, doesn’t necessarily mean good surf for another. More often than not at the moment I will mention that there are ‘solid’ conditions forecasted for example 8 ft plus with light offshore winds. For me, this is when I’ll be watching from the beach with a warm cup of tea at hand!
Where does your love of weather come from?
That’s easy – my Nan. Every conversation starts with ‘what’s the weather like where you are?’ I love it! By living so far away, it somehow makes us feel more connected, especially when we can talk about the same amazing sunset or when I can let her know that the band of rain we’ve had here is now making its way to London!
So are you very obsessed with wind direction?
Ha,ha! I thought I wasn’t until I mentioned this question to my colleague who laughed and said “Kat, you’re ALWAYS looking at the winds”. I love the website ‘Windy.com’, it’s so visually beautiful and mesmerising, a bit like watching a fire.
What would your dream job be?
A Broadcast Meteorologist or as it’s more commonly known, a Weather Presenter. I like to think of it as more of a goal than a dream. Back when I was 10, I got the chance to sing on TV with my school choir. Just before we went on air, it was the broadcast meteorologists’ slot. I came home that day and said to my mum ‘that’s what I want to be when I grow up’.
Fast forward 15 years, I’ve gained a degree in Environmental Sciences with a dissertation in Meteorology and work in a world class meteorological organisation, whilst being trained by some of our presenters too.
Any tips for fellow weather forecast lovers out there?
Buy your own weather station. You can then share your data to the Met Office Weather Observation Website and help contribute to observations.
What’s your favourite weather joke or motto?
“You have to put up with the rain to see the rainbow!”.