California Surfing Silhouette -  Surfboard on Head

California Surfing Photos

The Pacific Ocean provides more consistent swells than the Atlantic Ocean. There are several components to most wind storms that help explain this phenomenon. One is the wind induced by local pressure differences like the circulating winds of a hurricane, or the sea breeze common in Summer afternoons in the U.S. The other is the overall circulation of the atmosphere induced by solar radiation and the planett's rotation. This latter circulation results in winds generally easterly between plus and minus 30 degrees of the equator, westerly between 30 and 60 degrees in both northern and southern hemisphere and easterly again between 60 degrees latitude and the poles.

The local pressure variation type winds tend to be stronger than the global winds so you may get an onshore wind on any coast. Onshore winds tend to enhance the size of waves making their way ashore from some disturbance at sea. Offshore winds tend to knock down waves coming ashore. In the U.S. the global wind component is onshore in the Pacific and off shore in the Atlantic, due to our location in latitude. This may account for somewhat better surf conditions on the Pacific Coast.