Since I like going out in nasty weather it becomes part of the task to get a grip on just HOW nasty it actually is. Besides checking the weather and Noaa Marine Forcast I spend some time just stareing out over the water to just get the “feel” of things. If it “just doesn’t feel right” I will stay off the water or at the least stay in and play in the surf. One of the best tips I received early on is to watch the horizon line. Often what’s happening in the surf zone is not telling the whole story. If the horizon line is sharp the waves may not be too bad beyond the beach, if however the horizon line appears wiggly and jumpy you may not want to go out.