Grew up in Charleston SC area surfing whenever possible. Wave selection is a big part of that. 8 ft. waves were very rare if ever.
Here on Lake Michigan it is a entirely different thing. Last winter or the one before there were 25 ft. waves. As I understood it 22 ft. is the theoretical max for LM, so there you go. It is common to get up to 5 ft. waves. If it gets bigger than 5 then you might as well expect 14.
Now heres the thing. In Charleston we had sets of waves. Usually 3 then a lull, followed by the next set. We dealt with them on wave by wave basis. In LM our 40ft boat can be involved with 3-4 waves at the same time, usually with only two traveling the same direction. Washing machine - yep. 5ft trailing seas is the most comfortable once beyond 3 footers, as the boat can usually travel with one or two until the waves pass us. The rhythm can be found when moving with the primary motion. We have moments of swell, not what I would call periods.
The primary tools we use are our recording barograph and the NOAA wave prediction page (Great Lakes Maps - NOAA's National Weather Service
). The barograph going up is the time to go. When it starts down a steep angle it is time to be settled in.
With all the open water it may be best to ride into it where there is little to hit. The arriving at a marina at the same time as storm is the highest risk for damage. If you can't be safely tied before the fan is struck I think it better to avoid the area with solid objects. I have been amazed at how insignificant a big bad TS is when on the lake, but have had to deal with quite the pucker factor when the direction to be comfortable has one headed to shore.
Local knowledge. Knowing Mother Nature wins whenever she wants and not challenging her is my way.