Monday, March 3, 2008

Random Swell Alert: S-SW swell for SoCal, Baja, Mainland Mexico, Central America

So I wanted to send out a heads up on this swell…maybe give a few of you a chance to plan a trip or two for spring break.

While I was checking out the long-range forecast this morning I noticed a nice little nugget of a storm cruising through the South Pacific. Here is a picture of it…

This storm, which has already started to form, will intensify over the next couple of days and in the process kick out a healthy S-SW swell for the areas of Southern California, Baja Mexico, Mainland Mexico, and the countries of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama).

This system isn’t the biggest or the baddest that I have ever seen but it does have some good characteristics, which are its intensity and its movement. From an intensity standpoint it isn’t that strong…but it has some decent wind speeds (45-50 knots).

The movement of the system is what really does a lot of the heavy work. It moves at just the right speed so that the strongest part of the storm, (and the area of fetch that is setting up waves for all of these regions), sits right on top of the swell it has already created…so it basically moves along imparting more and more energy to the swell. We generally call this a “traveling fetch” which helps to artificially extend the length of fetch in the creation of the swell…sort of taking what would be a ok-moderate sized swell and making it a good sized one. It also helps to extend the width of the swell so it can affect such a wide range of regions.

Check out this picture…it sort of illustrates the “width of the swell” that I was talking about.

Anyway on to the good part…the waves

So this swell will hit almost every region within about 30 hours of each other…which is pretty typical of a swell with a SW swell angle.

Central America spots pick it up a touch sooner than other areas and can expect consistent 5-8’ faces at the average breaks…and some 10’ sets at the standout breaks. The swell starts filling in late on March 10th and peaks on March 11th in this region. Note there will be some shadowing by the Galapagos islands so Panama and Southern Costa Rica will be a bit smaller than other regions

Mainland Mexico will have this swell hit mostly on March 11th. Look for more consistent 5-8’ faces with bigger sets at SW facing breaks. Standout deepwater spots like Puerto Escondido will have sets going several feet bigger…probably closer to 10-12’+ on the faces.

Baja Sur the SW’er will move in on the 11th-12th peaking through both days. Looks like many spots will have 4-6’+ surf while standouts see 7-8’ faces. Pacific side spots will be the biggest…particularly the combo breaks thanks to a mix of WNW energy moving down the coast from a North Pacific storm.

Southern California and Baja Norte the swell will be smaller but still fun. The SW swell (185-210) arrives on the 12th but peaks into the 13th. Exposed areas will have shoulder-head high surf while the standout spots see some consistent head high and overhead sets. Forecasts are showing some decent WNW energy hitting our beaches about the same time so it looks like many spots could be bigger and more consistent than my conservative forecast.

If I had my way…and uh an unlimited amount of money (get clicking on those google-ads people!) I would probably be planning a trip to Nicaragua or El Salvador. The swell isn’t so big that it will max out anywhere…in fact a lot of the points could be very fun in both regions…and the winds are traditionally pretty good for both regions this time of year as well…and the water will be nice and warm...and the beer nice and cold. Man I need a vacation...

If any of you try and pull the trigger on this swell make sure to send me a note when you get back and tell me how it is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

keep'em the reports...