Friday, March 7, 2008

Random Swell Alert: UPDATE (part deux)

Things are still looking good for that S-SW swell for next week. It is still on track to send some large surf to Central America/Mainland Mexico and some decent, fun-sized waves to Baja and Southern California.

If you bought tickets to the warm Central American waters you are going to get some great waves (and my eternal jealousy you lucky dogs).

Make sure to read the other posts concerning this swell…especially post #1 (it has all the juicy wave heights in it).

Post #1 – Random Swell Alert: S-SW swell for SoCal, Baja, Mainland Mexico, Central America
Post #2 - Random Swell Alert: UPDATE!

Extra-Geeky Information (if thinking makes you brain hurt skip this section)

Now that the swell is a few days from arriving in the various regions it is starting to show nicely on many of the swell models. Here is a great shot of the swell showing on the Navy’s WaveWatchIII model…

What is nice about this image is that it is showing increase wave heights in the lower latitudes of the South Pacific…and that those wave heights match up with the swell movement/tracking of this S-SW swell.

Generally when you see increase wave heights on a swell model like this you are actually seeing “increased sea-state” which is all the waves and nastiness that is taking place underneath a storm. When that storm moves away or dissipates you see the significant wave heights of that particular area drop…but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it didn’t create swell…lots of really good swells (from a surf generating perspective) are not very tall, particularly when they are in deep water. It is very possible to have a swell that is only 3-4’ high in deep water with 18- to 20-second swell periods, which means that it will likely generate 6-10’ of surf when it finally hits the beach.

Generally 3-4’ of swell height will barely register in a swell model like this. (This is mostly because these models are built with boating in mind and a 3-4’ swell doesn’t mean much to a ship in open water). Most times these swells will get lost in the normal “noise” of the ocean…things like trade-winds generate bigger wave heights all the time so it is easy to lose track of a smaller swell. So when you get a particularly large swell that has some solid wave heights in it you get a clearer picture of the swell as it moves through the ocean.

The fact that I can see, and attribute, the increased wave heights in an areas with much lighter winds (compared to the area where the swell was produced) to this swell moving through these latitudes is a great sign. It basically means there is enough energy in this swell to push sizeable significant-wave-heights far beyond the “fetch area” and that the swell will still have a lot of energy when it finally starts to generate surf next week.

This got way geekier than I intended…so I will apologize to anyone that just pulled a brain muscle. This is Friday and I should know better…

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