Surfers look forward to tropical storms' swells - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Surfers look forward to tropical storms' swells

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FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) – From the shore to the surf, there are some people who get pretty excited when the low pressure starts to spin off the coast – surfers.

While no one wants to see a hurricane make landfall in the Lowcountry, but a storm that makes waves has surfers heading for the beach.

"We don't want Charleston to be hit by a major hurricane, but watching hurricanes roll up the coast is what we love to do – and wait for those swells," said Bates Hagood, the general manager at Ocean Surf Shop.

Surfers, like meteorologists, track the storms moving through the Atlantic.

"Surfers get so excited about approaching storms; this is our favorite time of year," Hagood said. "We're watching ever weather map and model – we watch you guys."

While an outsider or an onlooker might think surfers are crazy to head into big swells and rough seas ahead of an approaching storm, Hagood says those guys are just passionate about their sport.

"I mean, if you compare it to a guy who likes to play 18 holes of golf on a Sunday and goes out and buys a $400 driver every other week, surfers are the same exact way," he said. "And when those conditions get that perfect, there's nothing they want to do more than try to get out there and ride those waves.

Hagood says they cancel lessons and close board rentals when a storm approaches because inexperienced surfers and novices should not be in the water.

"This is a beach break. There are a lot of rip currents – you know there's a ton of current running south to north up the beach, or vice versa," Hagood said. "Depending on where the wind is coming from, the surf can get choppy when those storms start to get close."

The water is almost like a washing machine, which means it's not good for surfing. Hagood even hints at other weather and wave setups being better on Folly.

"Any sort of Bermuda High, Trade Wind Swell is an excellent swell for us," he said. "Sometimes hurricane swell gets over-hyped and the surf gets really crowded because people from Columbia, Greenville, Charlotte – anyone who is a surfer, they see a hurricane on the map and they're like, ‘Well, I'm going run down to the beach and catch some waves.'"

They're all searching for that perfect ride.

"It's a spiritual sport. I mean, you've get everything involved in nature and you're riding that. You've got air, water, and earth and those three elements come together, you just can't break that feeling," Hagood said.

  • Dave Williams

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