Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wednesday’s Surf – High tide sort of blows

Wednesday will be a surf day…but we have to get over the high tide hump in the morning.

In the water we will have a continuing mix of WNW and S-SW swell, which will set up some fun waves as we get to the lower tide.

For the morning expect surf in the waist-chest high range for many breaks, standout combo breaks will be bigger. Unfortunately shape is going to be very soft…and many spots will be almost completely shorebreak even when the sets come through.

As the tide drops look for average exposed breaks to fill in a touch…hitting mostly chest-shoulder high on sets. Standout combo areas, mostly through San Diego and Orange County, will have some head high sets at times. Looks like the beach breaks will have the best shape but expect fun waves at reefs and points as well.

Weather looks good for the morning. Mostly light and variable winds expected through the first part of the day. Onshore NW winds build in around 10 knots in the afternoon.

Random Surf Rant: This forecast highlights one of the quintessential dilemmas with the surf in SoCal. You have 2 issues that actually conspire to keep us from getting quality waves, particularly with these winter tides (and shorter winter days). As many of you know the morning hours are generally when conditions are the cleanest in SoCal…so if you want clean, glassy surf you want to go out in the morning. Then you get a 5’+ high tide that rolls through during the dawn patrol and flattens almost every break in SoCal.

So the wind and the tide tag team up and you spend all morning watching the race between the two…hoping the tide will drop fast enough that you can score a few waves before the wind comes up, which rarely seems to happen.

This is pretty fresh in my mind because I spent all of Tuesday morning watching this very thing happen, and then right before the surf started to get good with the lower tide...it blew out.

On Wednesday we will have similar conditions and tides…but it looks like winds may be a little lighter through mid-morning. Your best bet is to wait, (with your fingers crossed) for the tide to drop…because the surf is going to be really slow in the morning. Once the tide drops look for the biggest waves at those good combo breaks...particularly the beach breaks in SD and OC.


Yong Jung Shin said...

Does high tide usually means smaller wave? Even on those super big days?

Adam Wright said...

In general yes it does...but smaller is sort of a relative term. I mean a 12' face is smaller than a 15' face but both are big waves.

A high tide usually won't completely swamp out a large swell...particularly one that is producing well-overhead surf. But it can mess with the shape enough that it is not fun to surf.

It is the small to mid-size swells that take the biggest shalacking...but even with those it depends on the break itself. If it is a spot that is normally shallow and closed out on a low tide, the building tide will actually help the shape...and make the surf look/feel bigger as the break starts to work better. This is usually the case on a normal high tide...say a high of 2' to 3' feet of so. A very high tide of 5'+ can swamp out almost any break, even "high tide" spots.

Most average breaks get shut down by the tide...the extra water depth that is added by the high tide screws up the way the wave shoals on the sea-floor. When the tide is real high the wave can pass over the bar/section where it would normally break without really feeling the bottom...eventually it will hit the beach as shorebreak but without a rideable section. Reefs and Sandbars are generally the most affected by this...most points can handle the tide a little better because of the way they produce the breaking section of the wave.

Hope this helps