Friday, February 29, 2008

Waves for the weekend: More Combo swell

So I just got out of the water for the second time today (not to rub it in or anything)…and it was pretty darn good today. I surfed the local river mouth and there were some good sized overhead+ plus sets rolling through, (most of which landed on my buddy Dave’s head while he was caught in the impact zone). It was a mix of closeouts and dumpy hollow A-frames…and even though winds were a touch strong at times it stayed surfable till about 3pm or so. Anyway moving on to the weekend

Saturday is looking like a surf day but it looks like it will have wind problems too.


In the water we will have a fading but still healthy mix of WNW and SW swell. Most average breaks will have chest-shoulder high surf. Standout combo spots in San Diego and OC will see more consistent shoulder-head high surf with some overhead sets.

Winds on Saturday look funky. NWS is calling for NW winds around 10 knots for the morning. I think it could be lighter for the dawn patrol but I would plan on seeing at least some onshore texture. A lot will depend on what happens tonight…if winds lay down early tonight and stay light then the dawn patrol should start off clean.

Probably you best bet is to do a cam check in the morning…if you see a lot of crumble (or white caps) I would think about shining it until mid-morning when it at least won’t be totally chilly. If it looks clean on the cams then jam down ASAP and try and get a few waves before the winds pick up. Onshore winds out of the NW 10-15+ knots will definitely pick up by the afternoon.


Sunday’s surf will be cleaner and more consistent

On Sunday we actually have another round of WNW and S-SW swell moving in to reinforce the fading swell mix. Wave heights will hold in the chest-head high range for the average spots while the standout combo breaks, (mostly SD and OC again…but with a few South Bay and Ventura spots thrown in there as well), will see shoulder-head high waves with overhead sets mixing in at times.

Shape and conditions should be pretty good. Winds shift more to the N (maybe even NNE) through the morning and will help to clean up many breaks. The swell combo will continue to give us the cross-up shape so the combo beach breaks, reefs, and some of the better points will have decent and even good shaped waves.

Again your best bet, just because the winds are a little unstable, is to make a cam check in the morning…then if it looks good (or at least “not bad” ) then head down to the beach and try to score a few waves during the morning. Onshore winds will pick up again in the afternoon.

Personally I am going to be taking Saturday off, mostly to dry the ears out and because I am a little leery of the winds, but I should be back in the water on Sunday.

Make sure to check back…I will be posting a new Surf Break Map this weekend and I should have a forecast update later Sunday afternoon.

Have a great weekend!

Random Morning Update: Friday "I hate you so much eddy"

Hey guys just doing my dawn patrol stuff...looks like there is a little eddy wind on it this morning. Not enough to blow it out but it is adding some texture to the more exposed breaks.

Surf is in the waist-shoulder high range for most of the combo breaks but the standouts spots, in San Diego, South Bay, and OC are seeing some head high and overhead sets.

Winds look like they will eddy most of the morning...maybe lay down a touch mid-morning and then shift onshore pretty quick this afternoon.

Your best bet is to get out there this morning and find a spot that has some protection from the south winds (parts of Ventura, the South Bay, Central OC...around Dana Point/Laguna areas, and down near La Jolla in SD). Those areas will stay the cleanest the longest and all have good exposure to the swell mix.

I am heading out soon to get some myself...I might post a quick post-surf update later this morning.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Waves for Friday: More Combo swell

Friday will definitely be a surf day…the good combo spots will be fun, peaky, and likely overhead+ on the sets.

So if you saw the random morning update then you know that the W swell portion of the combo swell was lagging this morning. The good news is that the swell has arrived and it should stay pretty healthy as we move into Friday.

Check out the Buoys...




In the water we will have a mix of WNW swell (275-295) and S-SW swell (190-210). Most spots will stay consistently in the chest-shoulder high+ range while the best combo spots, mostly in San Diego and Orange County, see overhead+ sets.

Winds are supposed to be light in the morning, particularly through the dawn patrol. Expect light/variable in most areas and light SE winds through LA, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. W-WNW winds around 10-15 knots will develop through the afternoon.

Personally I will be heading out the door as soon as I get my morning stuff done. Maybe a quick camera check for the tide/wind shape before I leave but not more than a couple of minutes. I still think that the reefs and beach breaks will be the most fun…points will be good too but these swells get so hollow on the good sandbars that I will be checking those areas first.

San Diego and OC will be the biggest and most consistent but expect plenty of fun waves through Ventura and La…with smaller but likely cleaner shape through the Santa Barbara spots.

Hope you score some tomorrow…I’ll see you in the water!

Thursday's Surf: Morning Update

Just doing the dawn patrol this morning and it looks like the bigger punch of W swell is lagging a little bit. It looked like it should have been showing more by morning but it hasn't filled in as fast as was forecast.

So for the morning expect a lot of waist-shoulder high surf at the average combo spots...with some head high sets sneaking in at the standouts.

Wave heights will build, sending in more head high-overhead surf at the better spots over the next several hours.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thursday’ Surf: Fun Conditions and More Waves

Thursday will be a good surf day.

I was actually just down at the beach for lunch and it looks like it has started to pick up a touch more already.

On Thursday we will have new WNW swell (280-295) and a stronger, better aimed, SW swell (190-210). Overall, all regions, will be bigger and more consistent than Wednesday. Wave heights at the average spots will be in the chest-head high range. Standout breaks will have some overhead sets mixing…and the best combo breaks will have some bigger sets mixing in.

Winds are expected to be light through the day…mostly light and variable through the morning with some W-NW winds building in around 10 knots through the afternoon.

This is such a good mix of WNW and SW energy that at least some of the energy will make it into almost every break. The W-WNW swell will actually be the strongest so look for the biggest waves at the “winter spots”. Purely summer spots will be smaller and less consistent but should still be rideable and playful in many areas.

Your best bet for getting good surf will be the combo breaks, particularly spots through San Diego and Orange County. Spots in each region will be able to pick up both swells, which means more size and more waves. Exposed reefs and sandbars will be the best call…points may be a little sectiony as they get crossed up by the swell mix.

Personally I am going to head down to the beach early and check out the local beach break (and a couple of the sand bars). I think the beach breaks will have decent shape and should be able to spread out the crowd a bit…who knows maybe I will find a peak for myself.

(psst I want the beach breaks to look like this…)


Travel Alert: Baja Mexico

If you have been reading the blog, or the full forecasts over on wavewatch.com, you probably have read that SoCal is going to be getting a fun mix of WNW/SW swells over the next several days.

Well in this case, what is good for SoCal is going to be pretty good for Baja too…

Because we have series of WNW pulses and S-SW southern hemi swells arriving Wednesday through Monday, almost all of Baja is going to have some sort of surf as we move through the weekend and into early next week.

Most of the average breaks, (spots that only get one of the swell directions or just isn’t that great of a break) will be consistently in the chest-shoulder high+ range.

Standout spots, (good combo breaks and the “swell magnet” spots), will be in the shoulder-overhead range fairly consistently and see some sets going a couple of feet overhead as we see the swell combo peak on Thursday/Friday and again on Sunday/Monday.

Weather looks good for the region as well. Mostly light winds in the mornings with NW flow around 10-15 knots will be on tap for the afternoons.

Even the Tip of Baja (Cabo and the East Cape) will be getting some action from these swells. They will be a bit smaller because they are shadowed from a lot of the W-WNW energy but you will still see surf in the chest-shoulder high range at the average spots while the best standout breaks in the area see head high sets as the SW swells peak (one on Thursday and another on Sunday/Monday).

Tickets from LAX to Cabo are cheap right now…$273 roundtrip on Expedia.com! (if you left tomorrow Feb 28th and came back on Thursday March 6th).

But you don’t need to fly…there will be a ton of places to score waves within driving distance.

If I were single and didn't have to pay rent I would be on it...instead I need to live vicariously through you guys.

Let me know how it is if you head down that way...good luck!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Surf Break Maps: Rincon Point, Santa Barbara, California

Rincon Point is another one of the great waves along the Coast of Southern California. Rincon can get so good on certain swells that it is sometimes considered to be one of the world’s better point breaks.

Located just south of Carpentaria, in Santa Barbara County, Rincon is what you would consider a classic point break…in fact they probably thought up the term “point-break” as they were watching waves peel down the line into the Cove.

The wave itself is created by the shape of the coast along Rincon Point (Duh). The point’s headland, which is oriented facing mostly to the west, gradually extends out to sea and then abruptly swings back toward the main coastline. As the coast along the point swings back, parts of the beach face an almost SE facing direction…this area, which bleeds off towards highway 101, is generally known as the cove.

Rincon the surf spot is actually made up of 3 main sections. The Indicator, the Rivermouth, and the Cove. These sections are actually more apparent on smaller swells or when a swell isn’t really pure (I.E. when the energy is coming in from a mix of directions and swell periods). While it would be nice if Rincon always connected from the top of the point to the inside it is probably better that it has some imperfections. The transitions between these sections allow the crowd to spread out a little bit…and when the waves get a bit wally or sectiony it allows someone further down the line to poach a corner now and then. If it ran straight through you would have guys burning each other like crazy all the time, which would probably lead to death duels on the sand or something else equally ridiculous.



Rincon is at its best when it gets a large medium-long period W swell. The waves set up at the indicator, speed up (and get hollow) through the Rivermouth section, and then open into a fully ripable wall as you move down the line into the cove. If a swell is connecting just right it is possible to land a wave that connects for almost 300-350 yards and dumps you near the rocks by the highway. (Personally when I have had the fortune of catching a wave like that, I just get out of the water, walk up the trail, and go home…I don’t want to ruin the experience by failing to do what I just did…it always ends in frustration).

One of the cool things about Rincon is that it can handle a lot of swell…and while it does get large up at the Indicator the wave size drops off pretty fast as you move towards the inside. Like many point-breaks it is very possible to see a double-overhead set breaking along the top of the point but then have that same wave turn into chest-shoulder high as it hits the inside sections.

Rincon, like many points, handles the wind very well. So while light and variable winds, or light offshore winds, are the ideal wind direction Rincon doesn’t totally blow out as winds shift more N-NW’erly. In fact the inside section can stay very surfable even winds are blowing from the generally junky NW direction.

Spot details:
Best swell direction: W (260-280 degrees)
Best Wind: NE-E, light Santa Ana or light and variable winds
Sea Floor: Rock…mostly cobblestones
Best Season: Late Fall through early Spring
Crowds: You can see it from the 101…there are lots of people on it when it is breaking. It can get outright ridiculous on medium to large swells.

Consistency and the different swell seasons

Rincon is a weird wave when it comes to consistency. It stays rideable most of the winter but it only gets really good a handful of times each winter season. It can be rideable both spring and fall but if you don’t have any W swell in the water it won’t be working. The summer is basically flat…but there are times when windswell, or a really large S-SE swell will set up a few waves around the area, (the S swells will set up a few lefts along the top of indicator).

Forecasting Surf for Rincon

Forecasting for Rincon isn’t as straight-forward as you would think. Swell period and direction play very important roles in wave heights for the point.

Swell period in particular screws a lot of people over. Check out this scenario…you see a big-ass storm on the charts setting up a large WNW swell. The swell direction looks great, all the swell models are showing huge blobs of red, and you are totally freaking out. “It is going to be like 12-foot at Rincon…I am going to riding waves that last 10 minutes long!” You jam up there, C-street is pumping, Pitas is pumping, and then you pull up to Rincon (or any other spot north of there), and it is chest-shoulder high at best. Seriously WTF!

WTF = swell period. Most times, when we are getting a big WNW swell it also means that the swell periods are pretty long, generally 16-seconds or longer. What happens is that there is this semi-shallow sea-shelf that extends off of Point Conception. When the swell period is too great, (even if the swell direction is perfect for Rincon), the long-period energy feels that shelf and starts to wrap into the coast…so instead of that swell energy ending up in Santa Barbara or Rincon it ends up getting pulled into spots on the Ranch (those lucky bastards…like they need any extra help).

A swell needs to have a shorter-period, usually below 15-seconds. Once it gets low enough the energy skips over that shelf without touching it and proceeds to hit the Santa Barbara spots with its full energy. You need a storm to be rather close to send out swell periods in that range because if the storm is far away those periods will decay out of the swell train. Close storms generally only happen in the winter and early spring, which limits the time frame a ton.

This does become less of a problem as the swell turns more W and WSW…since the swell window is more open these swell directions make it through on longer swell-periods than WNW swells do.

Here is a little illustration that shows what I am talking about.

Wednesday’s Surf: Start of the fun combo swell mix

Wednesday is looking like a fun surf day.

Weather should be nice, there will still be plenty of surf out there, and a new SW swell starts to blend into our swell mix and should start to help to improve surf shape.

In the water we will have the fading W swell, some local windswell, and this new building SW swell (200-220), which will be a little inconsistent at first but it should fill in more by the afternoon.

Wave heights will be in the chest-shoulder high range at most spots through SoCal. Standout breaks in Ventura, San Diego, and the best areas of the LA South Bay, will have some shoulder-overhead surf…maybe even a few bigger waves still showing through the morning.

Winds will be light and variable through the morning before turning more NW and building to around 10-knots in the afternoon.

Like I said above it looks like a fun surf day. I think the best shape will continue to show at the W-facing points and reefs, particularly through the morning when we are seeing predominately W swell. Beach breaks will be a bit more surfable than the last couple of days but the sandbars got really tweaked by this big swell so expect to have to hunt around to find a decent area at the more exposed beaches, like HB, for example.

Shape everywhere should improve as the SW’er starts filling in…exposed beach breaks will start to see more peaky shape…and if the winds stay light, could be fun by the afternoon.


Further Out

Thursday and Friday are looking even more fun than Wednesday.

We will have a stronger mix of both the peaking SW and a new W swell. Many spots will build back into the shoulder-head high+ range while the standout combo spots see some overhead+ sets. Hopefully these swells will play well together and set up some decent shape for all of the exposed areas.

I will have more details on Thursday/Friday tomorrow…but I would start thinking about excuses for ditching school, work, and/or significant others later this week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Photos: Pictures from the big W swell

Here are a few photos from Monday's swell.
















Surf for Tuesday: West swell dropping

Tuesday should be a bit more surfable than Monday was and in general it should be fun if you pick the right spot.

In the water we will have the W swell losing some steam while a small pulse of SW energy starts to move into the background. Wave heights will still hold in the shoulder-head high+ range for most W facing breaks. Standout spots, mostly at the usual breaks in San Diego, the South Bay, and Ventura, will have sets going overhead to a few feet overhead in the morning.

Winds will be light in the morning…mostly variable below 10 knots. Expect NW winds 10+ knots to develop through the afternoon.

I think that W facing points and reefs will still be the best call if you are looking for surf on Tuesday. There will still be a lot of energy in the water and most of the beach breaks will be pretty walled…not to mention the sandbars will be jacked by the strong surf we had on Monday and there will still be lots of current running down the beach.

The S-facing breaks will still be working but they will be quite a bit smaller than yesterday, in fact they will probably be better for longboarding than shortboarding.

So I would plan on checking a point or reef in the morning...and expect the biggest sizes to show through San Diego and Ventura.

Quick Heads Up: The surf later this week is looking pretty fun. We will have a W-WNW and SW swell in the water, neither of which will be huge, but the combo of swells could set up some pretty fun shape at the exposed areas. I will have more info on this tomorrow but I would plan on trying to get some waves later this week.

P.S. I got a few shots of big surf at the HB Cliffs this morning and a few pics of dumpy barrels at the South Side of Seal Beach Pier. I will post them later tonight.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Monday’s Surf – Large W swell

Well the W swell (270-300+) hit right on time on Sunday and it is filling in as I write this. Expect the biggest surf to actually arrive overnight but there will be plenty of energy still pushing through as we head into Monday morning.

Check out the CDIP model right now…




At first glance you go oh that doesn’t look that bad…but then you realize that CDIP adjusts the color scale when you get a big swell…so any spot with the mellow green color means 12-15’ faces. I guess that is to keep us calm or something (yeah good call guys).

Anyway onto the Surf…I will actually repost some of the update I had yesterday, but since it still applies what the hell.

Surf for this swell
As the swell peaks wave heights will be consistently in the 8-10’+ range at W facing breaks.

Standout deepwater breaks in San Diego, Ventura, the South Bay, North OC, and southern Santa Barbara will have surf consistently in the 10-15’ range (double- to triple-overhead faces) and there will be some bigger sets mixing in at times.

Big wave spots, like Todos Santos and others, will be even bigger…possibly even doubling those sizes at times.

Conditions
Monday the storm front is supposed to clear through and winds will shift back to the NW as the storm passes on. Expect NW winds 10-15 knots through most of the day.

Best Chance for Surf on this Swell
There will be plenty of swell showing all throughout SoCal from this storm so finding waves won’t really be that tough.

Finding Quality Surf is going to be a bit trickier.

Your best bet is to head to a protected spot. The more sheltered a spot is from the full force of this swell, and the NW winds, the better shape it will probably be. S-facing breaks may actually be really good spots to check on Monday morning.

Here are a couple of reasons:

1. There is enough W-angle (and raw size) in this swell that it will wrap some decent size waves into S facing breaks.

2. S-facing spots generally have some protection from NW winds.

There are plenty of breaks that have this sort of set-up. Personally I would check the northern areas of Santa Barbara, North LA County, Central/South OC…with the goal of looking at spots that are generally smaller and less consistent than the “top” breaks…spots that are usually just longboard waves would be good to check out.

Be safe and have fun!…try and send me some surf pictures of this swell, even if it is just blown out or whatever…(I will post them on the blog…just email me at caine12 @ gmail)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Swell Alert Update: Big West Swell on the way.

The storm has finally developed and it is currently an angry ball of intense low pressure sitting just off the California coast.

Like I mentioned last night we aren’t see a ton of size on the outer buoys because the storm is so close but I did see winds on Buoy #46059 hit over 50-knots this morning, which means that winds were still tearing things up in the weaker hemisphere of the storm.

The QUIKSCAT satellite is estimating nearly 60-65+ knots of wind in the more powerful half of the storm (you know…the part that is heading right toward us). Those wind speeds are almost equal to Category 1 hurricane speeds.

Check out this shot from QUIKSCAT...



And this new satellite photo from NOAA



Surf for this swell
Looking at the forecast today I think that I may have been a little conservative on my wave heights for this swell.

Timing and everything are still the same…expect some building energy Sunday afternoon with the peak of the swell arriving overnight and into Monday.

As the swell peaks wave heights will be consistently in the 8-10’+ range at W facing breaks.

Standout deepwater breaks in San Diego, Ventura, the South Bay, North OC, and southern Santa Barbara will have surf consistently in the 10-15’ range (double- to triple-overhead faces) and there will be some bigger sets mixing in at times.

Big wave spots, like Todos Santos and others, will be even bigger…possibly even doubling those sizes at times.

Conditions
Sunday looks pretty junky for all areas…SW winds 15-25 knots are expected along with heavy rain throughout the day. Water quality will drop right back in the crapper again (literally and figuratively).

Monday the storm front is supposed to clear through and winds will shift back to the NW as the storm passes on. Expect NW winds 10-15+20 knots through most of the day.

Best Chance for Surf on this Swell
There will be plenty of swell showing all throughout SoCal from this storm so finding waves won’t really be that tough.

Finding Quality Surf is going to be a bit trickier.

Your best bet is to head to a protected spot. The more sheltered a spot is from the full force of this swell, and the NW winds, the better shape it will probably be. S-facing breaks may actually be really good spots to check on Monday morning.

Here are a couple of reasons:

1. There is enough W-angle (and raw size) in this swell that it will wrap some decent size waves into S facing breaks.

2. S-facing spots generally have some protection from NW winds.

There are plenty of breaks that have this sort of set-up. Personally I would check the northern areas of Santa Barbara, North LA County, Central/South OC…with the goal of looking at spots that are generally smaller and less consistent than the “top” breaks…spots that are usually just longboard waves would be good to check out.

Be safe and have fun!…try and send me some surf pictures of this swell, even if it is just blown out or whatever…(I will post them on the blog…just email me at caine12 @ gmail)

If you need them for some reason...here are links to the previous posts about storm

Storm Update: A Round in the chamber
Swell Alert Update: The Big W swell for next week
Storm Watch 2008 or AKA “My, isn’t that a big red blob?”

Friday, February 22, 2008

Storm Update: A Round in the chamber

So after having a few mai-tais at happy hour I decided to check the satellites/charts on this storm one last time today.

The storm that is supposed to set up the W swell for Sunday/Monday (mostly arriving Monday) is just starting to pop this evening.

Check out this new satellite photo. You can see how tight the rotation is developing near the center of low-pressure.



It gets even more dramatic if you watch the animation, which you can see at this link.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/west/nepac/loop-vis.html


Totally Random Fact Alert!

The craziest part about this storm is that because of where it is developing we actually won’t see much energy show on the outer buoys.

These are the long-range buoys, SE Papa Buoy #46006, and California Buoy #46059, that can generally give us about a day to two days notice of an incoming NPAC swell. Unfortunately when you get a storm that brews up close to the coast it can slip inside the 500 mile buoy before it has really started to develop.

It appears that this storm is going to do just that…check out this picture of the WavewatchIII swell model. You can see the huge red blob of swell is headed towards us but it is passing below the California Buoy.



What is nice about these types of swells is that they tend to be pretty strong and they tend to have a really “democratic” westerly swell angle, which means that almost all of the SoCal regions (Santa Barbara through San Diego…and most of Northern Baja) will get a pretty equal punch of this swell.

Looks like we are still on target for Monday.

If you get bored check out the Previous Posts concerning this swell

Swell Alert Update: The Big W swell for next week
Storm Watch 2008 or AKA “My, isn’t that a big red blob?”

Saturday’s Surf – Looks fun…but water will be a bit pooy

Saturday will have some rideable surf…it won’t be the cleanest, in terms of weather, wind, or water quality, but it will be surfable.

We will have a mix of WNW wind/ground swell and some steady S windswell. Most exposed breaks will have chest-shoulder high+ surf while the standout winter breaks see some head high+ sets.

Shape will be OK…sort of raw and bumpy…but if you have a spot that is protected from the S winds it should be ok. Areas like parts of Ventura, The South Bay, Dana Point/Laguna, and La Jolla, will all be good areas to at least check out on the cameras in the morning.

Expect S to SE winds around 10 knots through the morning turning more light/variable by the afternoon. (S-SW winds will build back in late Saturday…more rain too).


The big W swell is still on tap for Sunday Night and into Monday….I will drop a Saturday update on you guys. (a special update for the big swell).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Swell Alert Update: The Big W swell for next week

It looks like things are still on track for us getting a pretty large W-WNW swell (270-300) for Sunday afternoon and Monday (Feb 24-25th).

Like I said in my earlier post Storm Watch 2008 or AKA “My, isn’t that a big red blob?” I am not really stoked on the current forecasts for this storm. I think that the forecast models are overcalling this swell.

As we get closer the models are already starting to downsize it a touch…and I expect they will back off a bit further as we get closer.

Right now I am still expecting a decent sized pulse of W swell…it will be a pretty raw mix of energy because the storm is so close. It will be very consistent, a bit lumpy & mixed up, and I expect a ton of current at the exposed breaks as well.

Sizewise right now I think most W facing breaks will have surf in the 6-10’ range while the standout deepwater breaks in San Diego and Ventura (and a few other spots in the other regions) will top out close to 15’ on the sets. There may be a few bigger waves lurking around Sunday night…but I think most of those will be breaking after dark.

Winds and weather are still a bit up in the air…right now they are looking like they will be coming out of the N-NW...which means there could be some clean spots out there…particularly for the Santa Barbara and North LA areas…both of which will have smaller surf. The other more exposed spots may be bumpier.

This is one of those swells, that if you have the time, could be worth driving around for. Weather isn’t 100% in our favor but there will be a ton of energy in the water.

I should post another, special, update on Saturday that should dial in the swell/weather and best regions for waves…so make sure to check back in a couple of days.

Friday’s Surf – More swell, and it looks like more wind

Friday looks like it may have a few waves, but it will be rainy, supposedly windy, and we will still be trying to muscle through a high tide in the morning. Overall I don’t think it will be a very good surf day.

In the water we will have a mix of WNW swell (285-300), NW windswell, and a touch of S-SW windswell too. Most spots will be around waist-shoulder high once the tide drops. Standout breaks, mostly in San Diego and Ventura, will be in the shoulder-head high+ range.

Conditions are not looking great though. It is supposed to start raining this evening/night and it is expected to continue through into tomorrow. Winds are expected to be out of the SW around 10-15 knots through most of the day.

Since there will be some waves/swell in the water it probably isn’t worth totally writing the day off. The wind direction isn’t particularly good but it could come in a touch more S or even SE…looking at the charts the set-up that is causing the winds tomorrow is a bit unstable…so there is a chance that we could get a more favorable wind, particular in the morning.

I think your best bet is to get up and check the cams in the morning. The high tide hits around 10am…so there may be a window of surf at breaks that are protected from the Southerly winds. (Areas like Southern Ventura, The South Bay, La Jolla, Dana Point/Laguna in OC will be your best bets.) Get it early though...it looks a lot winder during the afternoon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursdays surf – It looks just like how I feel.

Adam Feels = Thursdays Surf = Crappy.

Seriously the River Mouth Bird Flu has been kicking my butt…fortunately the nice ladies at the Doctors office have got me squared away with some drugs so I should be better shortly.

Anyway on to the surf. Not a lot of changes expected tomorrow morning.

Our swell will be a mix of leftover WNW swell and local windswell, the tide will be super high about 8-9am, and the winds will be onshore out of the W around 10-15 knots.

This will be another good day to stay in bed.

In the afternoon the shape will not improve but we will start to see a new WNW swell (285-300) start to arrive. It will show mostly in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and parts of LA before sundown…but there may be a slight increase in OC and SD before the sun sets.

This new swell will peak overnight into Friday and will be good for shoulder high+ surf at most W facing breaks. Standout NW spots in San Diego and Ventura will have head high and overhead sets. Winds on Friday are looking a little better too…they are forecast to switch to a more Southerly direction which would help to clean up a few spots. Check back tomorrow I will another update for Friday.

So to sum up Thursday. Thursday = Crappy. Stay in bed.

Ocean Science 101: South Pacific Island Shadowing

It is time for another installment of Armchair Forecasting 101. Where I give you random information about surf forecasting that will probably have zero impact on your ability to get waves but will make you a way more interesting conversationalist at parties.

In this post I will cover a term that you will probably see in a lot of my forecasts as we head into the spring, summer, and fall. This term is South Pacific Island Shadowing and is sometimes known as the Tahitian swell shadowing.

South Pacific Island Shadowing occurs for Southern California when we get SW swells that are coming in from a 205- to 220-degree swell angle. This shadowing process can greatly effect the size and consistency of a SW swell and is generally responsible for turning what should have been a great swell event into a mediocre (and sometimes very frustrating) one.

Swells generated in the South Pacific storm track that are approaching from these angles have to pass through a series of island chains on their path to SoCal. This is where the shadowing occurs.

You might ask “Hey I have been to a bunch of those islands…they are really small and far apart. How can they have such an impact on something as large and powerful as a swell?” Which would be a pretty good question.

In this case the answer is: It isn’t what you see above the surface that causes all of the problems but what is below.

A little Background info:
Swells are actually three-dimensional objects…but we spend a lot of time thinking about them in two-dimensions. Swell actually has a component of energy that extends “down” below the ocean surface. The longer the swell period the deeper this energy goes.

It is actually this “below the surface” energy that helps shape and facilitate the breaking waves that eventually hit our spots in SoCal. (I will go over the basics of this in another post…in the meantime you will just have to trust me.)

The thing to remember is that swells coming from the South Pacific end up having some very long swell periods (generally 16-17 seconds and longer), this is because they travel such long distances that much of the shorter swell period energy decays away leaving the more powerful long-period energy.

The Problem Occurs:
The problem occurs when this long-period energy moves through the island chains. Even though on the surface the islands are small they have a very well developed sea-mount supporting them…in fact there is, for all intents and purposes, an undersea mountain range underneath the island chains.

Long-period swells of around 18-seconds start feeling the sea-floor at about 850 feet…as they encounter the bottom they start to slow and change direction. If it was only a single obstruction this wouldn’t be a problem but there are hundred of overlapping islands spread over a couple thousand miles. It is sort of like sending the swell through a really messed up game of bumper pool.

The swell does eventually shuffle out of the other side of these islands but it is greatly diminished and has lost a lot of energy, both in size of the waves and the consistency of the sets.

What this means (or AKA why you should care):
Adam this is making my head hurt.

I know…it makes mine hurt too. I will sum it up for you.

If you see a big red blog on the swell model, but it is located in a position where the swell will pass through the South Pacific Island Shadow, then count on it being smaller and less consistent than if it had a clear shot.

Sometimes the swell models (like NOAA’s WavewatchIII) will “overcall” these swells, which in turn means that many of the surf forecast websites will overcall them too, (because their swell models are basically WavewatchIII with a different skin…).

The trick is to not to get caught up in the hype…yeah there is a swell coming, but it is likely going to be smaller and less consistent that most people think. Personally in these cases I start thinking about my free time…and is it really worth battling a horde of people to get inconsistent sets or should I save my time for a really good swell where I can get plenty of waves. It is usually a pretty easy call for me to make.

Anyway I hope this helps…I put together a cool graphic that will help illustrate the process and it shows both the open and shadowed swell directions for SoCal.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Swell Alert: Central America & Mainland Mexico

I probably won’t normally be kicking out too many alerts for Mexico/Central America but I figured “Hey it is February…maybe there are few people that want to break out of the cold-water blues”. So threw together this alert when I saw the new activity brewing in the South Pacific.



Right now there is a pretty decent sized storm moving across the SPAC and is in the process of setting up a good-sized (particularly for February) SW swell (210-225) that will arrive in Central America and Mainland Mexico on February 26th. Even better is that this storm is being followed by a couple of other systems that will help to reinforce the first SW’er and may even send in bigger surf.

What this means is that overhead+ SW swell fills in on February 26th and thanks to those following swells (200-220+) the overhead+ surf will continue to hold through the end of the month and likely through the first few days into March. I would expect overhead surf at the average breaks while the deepwater standouts, like Puerto Escondido, see sets going several feet overhead to nearing the double overhead range.

I was just checking flight costs and you can get a round-trip to San Jose, Costa Rica for like $500 bucks. So if you like big, warm surf and have some vacation time saved up it is probably worth taking a trip.

No Waves for Wednesday – Stay in bed…seriously. Just surf your pillow.

Ok last post for the day…I promise.

Wednesday’s surf isn’t looking very fun. In fact it isn’t even looking rideable through the morning high tide.

We will have mostly leftover WNW swell (and a touch of very steep NW swell hanging in the background). Most spots will start off waist-high and smaller with mostly shorebreak shape. A few of the standout high-tide NW spots will have some chest high waves on the best sets.

Conditions are looking sloppy. SW winds around 10 knots and drizzle are expected through the morning. Those winds turn more W by the afternoon…and then increase into the 10-20 knot range by the evening/night.

If there were going to be a surf window it would be in the morning but since the tide is going to kill it that kind of screws us. Onshore winds and rain will help seal the “no surfing” deal once the tide drops.

I will be in bed.

Show @ The Surf Gallery - ABSTRACT: Surf Photography Exhibition, presented by Globe

Hey guys my friend Will is having another art show down at The Surf Gallery.

This one is presented by Globe and it sounds pretty cool. (Personally I am huge fan of photography so I may actually head down to check this one out. Maybe I will see you there).

Here are the details:

Show @ The Surf Gallery - ABSTRACT: Surf Photography Exhibition, presented by Globe


ABSTRACT
The New Emissions of Light and Sound. A surf photography exhibition presented by Globe.

When: Friday, February 22, 2008

Artists:
Scott Soens, Dustin Humphrey, DJ Struntz, Wolfgang Bloch, Patrick Trefz, Joe Curren, Thor Jonnson, John Rinek, Adam Warmington, J. Murray and more.

Where:
@ The Surf Gallery in Laguna Beach
911 S. Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949-376-9155

Storm Watch 2008 or AKA “My, isn’t that a big red blob?”

So I was looking at the charts today when I started to see a nasty little nugget way out in the long-range portion of the forecast.

Check out this NOAA image



This picture is showing significant wave heights in the North Pacific 114 hours (4-5 days) out in the forecast. The wave-heights are in meters, which mean that current forecasts are showing a storm with 30-foot plus seas developing very close to the California coast.

Needless to say that if this storm lives up to the current forecasts then we will see a very, very large W swell arriving early next week (Feb. 24-25th)

My take on this current forecast is this: I am not really ready to jump on the hype-machine just yet. But since the other forecast groups are likely to start freaking out I thought I would at least mention the system.

I am not really sold on this storm for several reasons. First, this storm is still several days from developing, which alone puts it into the “suspect” category. Add in the facts that the different weather models are not quite agreeing on anything (strength, positioning, or movement) about this storm makes it even less reliable. Then to top it off this particular type of storm, which looks like it is being influenced by extra-tropical moisture, are very unstable and hard for the models to predict.

Right now I am expecting a pretty decent sized W-WNW swell for the 24-25th, but I am not putting a lot of faith in it going much bigger than 8-10' at the standouts...and I think there will be some weather and possibly junky conditions coming along with it.

We will start getting much more reliable forecast data as we get to about 48-72 hours away from the storm forming.

Make sure to check back in a couple of days because I will have a better grasp on this swell and we will see if it lives up to forecasts.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tuesday’s Surf – Getting a little funky

I don’t think Tuesday will be that great of a surf day. It should be rideable but shape is going to be hurt by the tide, conditions, and dropping swell.

Our mix of WNW swell will be dropping off fast on Tuesday and will have to contend with a 6’+ high tide in the morning, which means surf shape and size are going to get a working over. Expect mostly knee-waist high surf at W facing breaks while the best NW standouts (that can handle a high tide) will have some chest high sets.

Weather shouldn’t be horrible in the morning but expect some S-SW texture at the more exposed beaches. Look for more onshore wind, drizzle, and possibly some rain by the afternoon.

Personally I think your best bet is to check the cams in the morning…there may be a few waves struggling through the high tide…but I definitely wouldn’t make much of an effort to get to the surf. There may be a small window of surf in between when the tide starts to drop and before the wind start to increase…that might be your best chance of getting a few rideable ones.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Waves on Monday – Get it while you can

We will still have plenty of surf on Monday and it should be fun (and less crowded) for the dawn patrol.

Our WNW swell (285-300) from the weekend will be losing some steam but we will see some good-sized surf at the standout winter breaks. Most spots will hold around waist-shoulder high range. Standout WNW facing spots, mostly in San Diego, will have some head high sets.

Conditions look good as well. Mostly light/variable winds in the morning. Expect NW winds around 10 knots to build in through the afternoon.

Finding good surf will be very similar to the weekend. Biggest waves show in San Diego and some parts of Ventura but you should be able to find rideable size at pretty much any W facing break. Points/Reefs are going to be the best call on getting decent shape…beach breaks will still be walled up but since the size is dropping there may be a few more corners on the better sandbars.

I would try and get some surf on Monday…it looks like slightly stormy/eddy conditions start to develop on Tuesday and hold through much of the week. Looks like SW winds and some drizzle will work to hamper shape for most of the week.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Surf Break Map: Trestles, Orange County / San Diego, California

Surf Break Map: Trestles Surf Area

The Trestles Surf area is easily the most consistent surf area in Orange County (or North San Diego County if you are going to be a picky geo-nazi). It is exposed to a whole range of swell directions, it has rights, lefts, points, reefs, sandbars. There are no houses on the beach, which means it has a little peace and quiet (expect for the occasional train going by), and no super-rich property owners having your car towed. You even get a lovely nature walk when you head down the trail to get to the wave.

Trestles is located along the tip of San Mateo Point, which is just south of the City of San Clemente, CA and north of Basilone Rd. It is part of San Onofre State Beach, which in turn used to be a parcel of the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Trestles gets its name from a series of railroad trestles that span the small pond (lagoon/marsh or whatever they are calling it now) that pools at the end of San Mateo creek.

There are actually several waves in the Trestles area. Each one works better on slightly different mix of swell angles, periods, and sizes. Sand flow and tides also play a big role in the wave quality at each spot.

Besides the plethora (yes El Guapo I know how many are in a plethora) of wave selection at Trestles probably its most important feature is its swell window. Trestles is exposed to a large range of swells. It can take in energy from the SE all the way up through the NW but the key component is that it has an open S-SW swell window. S-SW energy, thanks to the very active and large Southern Ocean, is a pretty consistent swell source throughout the year. Other Southern California surf areas can usually pick up some of the Southern Hemi swell but there are usually some limiting factors, (like blockage from headlands or nearshore islands). Not Trestles…it is pretty much wide open until the swell starts to go past the 220-degree mark.

Access (getting there is half the fun)

Getting to trestles can be a bit of a trek. You have a few options, some of which are better than others depending on things like time constraints and crowds.

1. You can park up around Cristianitos Road and walk down the trail. There is a public parking lot near Carl’s Jr. (and a seriously huge American Flag) along with public parking along parts of the street. You basically get our your gear (it is almost better to deck change at the beach) and hoof it down the trail to the beach. Some people bring bikes with racks (or skateboards) to save some time.

2. You can park at San Onofre State Beach. Head into the park like you are heading to Old Man’s. Park. Then hoof it up the beach to Trestles. It is a long walk but you don’t have to manage a large hill, and as a bonus you pass Church (another surf spot) and can see how it is.

3. You can have someone drop you off at the trailhead right off of Basilone Road freeway exit. Since there is no parking along the road in this area it sort of requires a team effort and a bike. Have your driver drop you off, you carry their boards (unless you had your mom do it…hahaha loser!). Then they go park back at Cristianitos and bike it down the trail. It is a good way to actually get some waves if you are time strapped.


Crowds

Because Trestles is such a consistent and “quality” wave area it can attract a pretty large crowd. Expect to see nearly wall-to-wall fiberglass when we get a decent SW swell on the weekend. Even weekdays can get pretty frantic during the mornings. Lowers in particular can be brutal…lots of sponsored riders, cameras, and other nonsense when there is a good sized SW swell in the water.

You do see some maneuvering room if we get a solid combo swell mix…it sort of shifts the peaks around at times letting guys on the edges pick off a few more waves. It also improves the quality at the other breaks in the area which can also help to bleed off some of the pack.

Contests

There are a couple of big contests down at Trestles along with a couple of smaller ones throughout the year. The guys that hand out the permits for the events are pretty aware of how popular of a surf break the area is so they put limits on the number of events and how many days a contest can take away access from the public. Generally the big events are around April/May and again in September.

Save Trestles

Over the last several years there has been an attempt to build a new section of Toll-Road Freeway through some of the inland parts of San Onofre State Park, which, in my opinion, would have tremendously hurt the quality of the park and the waves in the Trestles surf area. Thanks to the hard work and influence of many people, including organizations like The Surfrider Foundation, the costal commission has rejected the lastest plan. I am sure this will be an ongoing battle for years to come…

You can get all of the latest details or help support the “Save Trestles” cause at http://www.surfrider.org/savetrestles/

The Surf

There are 5 main surf breaks in the Trestles area:



Cottons
Barb-Wires
Upper Trestles
Lower Trestles
Middles

Surf Break Map: Cottons, Trestles Surf Area, California



Surf Break Map: Cottons

This is the most northern break in the Trestles area…and the most fickle. Cottons is generally known as a left that breaks along the most northern part of San Mateo Point. It will break on a bigger SE through SW swell’s but it takes a very large swell to get it working properly. It seems to like the medium period swells (and sometimes large hurricane swells) the best. When everything connects you can string together some long sections.

When Cottons is breaking it attracts sort of a weird crowd. The wave is sort of rolly in the deeper water at the top of the point, so you see a lot of guys with bigger boards, guns, longboards, big-guy fun boards. The extra-length lets them get into the wave way on the outside and get a pretty long ride. Since the wave sort of bogs out after setting up on the outside section you end up having a whole different pack of shortboarders on the inside taking off on deeper sections and generally getting faster more critical rides on the inside. As the tide drops the packs start to edge closer together and the wave starts to get a more consistent shape and speed.

Spot details
Best swell direction:
Large S-SW swell (180-210)…generally over 6’+ works best.
Best Wind: E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Mix of rock, sand, and sea-grass
Best Season: Late Spring, Summer and Fall. Anytime you get a big southern hemi swell.
Crowds: It is fickle enough that it gets really crowded when it breaks.

Surf Break Map: Barb-Wires, Trestles Surf Area, California



Surf Break Map: Barb-Wires

Barb-wires is a short sectiony wave that breaks on the reef that, if the point was more developed, would have been the left off of Uppers. Located between Cottons and Uppers, Barb-wires is sort a crowd bleed-off wave…it is right in front of where the Cristianitos trail ends and it is sectiony enough that you can paddle out and grab a couple of ok (but not great) waves fairly quickly.

Most times, if you are a decent surfer, paddling out at barb-wires when you have 3 really good waves close by is sort of like torturing yourself. You end up riding these short little sections while waaaay better waves peel down the close-by points. The wave itself can be very sectiony and almost walled up on certain swells, particularly when there is only one swell in the water. Barb-wires is a semi-friendly spot for people that are learning (but aren’t just beginning to surf), not ready to battle for waves, don’t like crowds, or don’t like surfing long waves because it makes their legs tired.

Barb-wires is at its best (best being a relative term of course) on a combo swell of S and W-WNW energy. The crossed up swell mix treats Barb-wires more like a beach breaks and helps to add a touch more definition to the wave. There will still be better waves at the other areas but you won’t feel like kicking yourself quite as much.

Spot details
Best swell direction: Small to medium swell combo of S-SW swell (180-220) and W-WNW swell (260-280)
Best Wind: E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Mix of rock, sand, and sea-grass
Best Season: Pretty much the same year round but more likely to get the swell combo in the Spring and Fall.
Crowds: It is fickle enough that it gets really crowded when it breaks.

Surf Break Map: Upper Trestles, Trestles Surf Area, California



Surf Break Map: Upper Trestles

Uppers is one of the most consistent waves at Trestles…and while it isn’t quite Yin to Lowers’ Yang, it is a pretty good ride.

The wave is a long right-hander that breaks along a rocky section of point just to the south of Barb-Wires and Cottons. It breaks on both S-SW and WNW swells but works best on the winter W-WNW’ers. Uppers can be sectiony at times, particularly on bigger swells, but it does consistently crank out some long makeable sections.

Uppers generally works best on a medium- to long-period W-WNW swell (270-285) and it likes to have some water underneath it…not a full blown high tide but at least the tide-push after the low-tide. Enough sand on the sea-floor also plays an important roll in wave shape…years where there has been a ton of run-off, (and the sand berm near the creek has been breached), sand fills in a lot of the imperfections in the rocks that make up the Uppers point helping to smooth out the wave and letting it connect for longer rides.

Spot details
Best swell direction: W-WNW (270-285) and swell S/WNW swell combos
Best Wind: E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Mix of mostly rock, with some sand and sea-grass
Best Season: Fall, Winter, Spring…but still fun in the summer.
Crowds: While not quite as bad as lowers it does get pretty crowded. Weekends, Santa Ana wind days, and big swells are particularly bad.

Surf Break Map: Lower Trestles, Trestles Surf Area, California



Surf Break Map: Lower Trestles

Lower Trestles is one of the “Crown Jewels” of California surfing. Generally referred to as Lowers the wave is located south of Uppers and north of Middles.

Lowers is the most well-defined point/reef in the Trestles surf area. The point sticks out a bit further than the others in the area, and the rock reef that extends off of the point is both better shaped and extends further out into deeper water. The combination of those two features helps to create a long, but very workable right and a shorter, but faster (and sometimes more hollow) left that breaks back towards Uppers.

Lowers works on almost any swell that it is exposed to but it breaks the best on large S and SW swells.

Even on big swells the peak and takeoff area are pretty small, which concentrates the crowd. Big but inconsistent swells will turn the pack into an ugly feeding-frenzy mess with lots of people dropping in and burning each other. You can pretty much always count on a crowd at lowers, and to be honest not many waves sneak through the peak unridden. The best you can hope for is lots of set waves in a big swell to help thin out the group at the peak and weed out some of the more timid surfers.

Spot details
Best swell direction:
S-SW swell (170-220)
Best Wind: E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Mix of mostly rock, with some sand and sea-grass
Best Season: Summer, Fall, and when we get big SW’ers in the Spring.
Crowds: On bad days it looks like the LA marathon starting line.

Surf Break Map: Middles, Trestles Surf Area, California



Surf Break Map: Middles

Middles is another sort of safety valve wave for the Trestles area. It is a decent break to surf but it isn’t as good as any of the breaks around it. It offers up another option to surf if the other spots are too crowded.

Located south of Lowers and north of Church…Middles gets its name for…well…being in the middle of Lowers and Church. (Ok it so it isn’t the most original name.)

The wave is a combination of sections…and wave shape depends a lot of the type of swell hitting the area at the time. It is possible to get a few lefts as you get closer to Church and some rights & peaks as you get closer to lowers.

Middles can get good but it usually takes a big swell combo to really get it really going. It is one of those spots that gets good but only when everywhere is good at the same time. So you only really surf it when you want to get a few good, mostly empty waves, but want to stay close enough that you can watch people ripping at Lowers.

Spot details
Best swell direction:
Medium to Large swell combo of S-SW swell (180-220) and W-WNW swell (260-280)
Best Wind: E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Mix of mostly rock, sand and sea-grass
Best Season: Summer, Fall, and Winter.
Crowds: Generally not that bad but it could get crowded on big swells that hit over the weekend.

Waves for the Weekend: Good WNW swell

The WNW swell (285-300) for the weekend is still looking pretty good. We can expect a pretty decent run of waves at the winter spots through both Saturday and Sunday.

We should actually start to see this swell hit our outer nearshore buoys later today and it will fill in along our beaches by tomorrow morning, peaking in the afternoon on Saturday. Expect the swell to hold overnight into Sunday morning before it starts to lose a little steam by Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday and Sunday most WNW facing spots see chest-head high+ surf. Standout breaks in San Diego, Ventura, and the South Bay, will have sets going overhead to a few feet overhead at times.

FYI: Santa Barbara will be a little left out thanks to shadowing from Point Conception. Expect the breaks in the SB area to be smaller, mostly waist-chest high range at the top breaks and smaller as you move further north through the county. It will be clean and fun throughout the county but it will be much smaller than the other areas. Check out the CDIP forecast…see how there is not much energy hitting Santa Barbara.



Weather looks good for the mornings over the weekend as well. Expect mostly light variable winds through the dawn patrols. NW winds build into the 15-20 knot range during the afternoons.

Finding surf this weekend will be pretty easy…just head to the usual winter spots and you will get some sort of waves. If you are looking for bigger surf then San Diego and Northern Baja will probably be the best call…they will have more exposure to the swell and more different types of breaks to choose from. I think the best shape will be at the points and reefs (in all areas), just because there isn’t much to break up this swell. Beach breaks may be a little lined up, and have some current to fight against, but there will be a few corners on the good sandbars there as well.

Hope you score some waves and have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Friday – “We should have got a live chicken!”

Since the weather went all squirrelly on Thursday it is sort of jamming up the conditions for the next couple of days. It won’t totally ruin this incoming swell or anything but it will shorten the window of “clean conditions” at a few of the more exposed breaks.

So for Friday…the surf will still be plenty fun. We will have a mix of WNW swells and local windswell in the water. Wave heights will hold around chest-shoulder high+ at most spots while the standout W facing breaks see head high sets. Top regions, like San Diego and Ventura, will have some overhead sets on the low tides.

Conditions are where we may need a little help, maybe some voodoo magic or something. Expect cold N-NE winds to build in through the morning. Spots from Santa Barbara through the South Bay will see these pick up pretty early…maybe even shift more NW by mid-morning…so plan to surf as early as you can.

OC and San Diego will have ENE-NE winds around 10+ knots in the morning but those swiftly shift more N through the morning and will eventually blow onshore out of the NW around 10-20 knots by the afternoon.

Cross your fingers that we can get the winds to hold off before switching onshore…at least until we get to a lower tide mid-morning.

I think you are going to want to check the cams in the morning…especially if you are driving pretty far to get to the surf. Winds will be pretty shifty so expect it to get bumpy quickly. Really your best bet is to head to a more protected break that can handle a little bump.

Swell for the weekend:
That weekend WNW swell that is heading our way hit Hawaii pretty hard today. (If you have a chance to check the cams you will probably be able to see some pretty big surf before sundown.)

This bodes pretty good news for us…it shows that this storm was producing swell at some point so I expect to see NorCal fill in tomorrow and SoCal on Saturday. Check back I will have more details tomorrow.

WTF…Rain!?!

The eddy winds that were supposed to move out overnight have held on a little longer than expected. Most areas from Santa Barbara through LA are seeing offshore winds already. OC is cleaning up but has some funky drizzle still this morning. San Diego, unfortunately, is pretty sloppy.

The good news is the offshore winds are still coming but it is going to take a couple of hours for them to get established. Look for cleaning up (and drying up) conditions as we head into the afternoon.

You guys in LA and Ventura can get bent because it is already offshore there. (just kidding...)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thursday’s surf – Cleaner with more surf!

Wednesday’s surf sort of crapped out faster than I was expecting. The eddy was forecast to be quite a bit lighter but it came on strong for OC and SD areas by mid-morning. Ventura and LA stayed pretty nice but had issues at times too.

Anyway on to Thursday…surf looks good again. Thursday will definitely be a surf day.

We will have a new WNW swell (seriously we are getting a lot of these in a row), some very minor SW energy, and some leftover local windswell. Most spots will continue to have waist-shoulder high surf while NW facing breaks have head high sets.

Standout areas in San Diego and Ventura (and the South Bay) will have surf in the shoulder-head high range with some overhead sets.

Conditions are looking good…E winds 10-15 knots (and even stronger at times in LA, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties) will be on tap through the morning. Expect mostly light onshore flow in the afternoon.




With these sort of winds, the fact that we will be dropping toward a low tide, and the other fact that we will have a consistent WNW swell in the water you will have a pretty good chance at getting fun waves tomorrow. I personally am probably going to just wake up and head to my nearest W facing break to see what I can find. I still think points/reefs will be the best call but if you don’t mind a little paddling you should be able to find a corner somewhere.

See you guys out there…

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wednesday’s Waves – the hits just keep on coming

Of course since I am fighting off a case of the “Poo-River Flu” the surf has to be bigger and more consistent than it has been in a while. Fortunately it looks like it will continue to pump out a few WNW waves for the next several days.

On Wednesday I expect the fun run of WNW swell to continue.

We will actually be getting a new little pulse of WNW energy (280-300) to help reinforce what we already have in the water. Most spots will continue to see waist-shoulder high surf while the best winter standouts see head high+ sets on the better tides.

Winds and weather are expected to be nice as well…some patchy fog at times…but with light morning winds and just some average NW bump in the afternoon’s

I hate to keep beating a dead horse here but you should be able to find some fun waves at any winter spot in your area. If you are looking for bigger surf head to San Diego, Southern Ventura County, or possibly parts of the South Bay (if you can find a sand bar there).

It has been little lined up at the beach breaks at times so look for the best shape at points and reefs…or maybe a good really good sandbar…you know, if your homemade car-wreck reef (made exclusively out of old ford mavericks) isn’t quite working yet. Damn artificial reefs!

Swell Alert: Hawaii, NorCal, and SoCal (well is a sissy-girl sort of way)

I am sure that you all have been getting the alerts from the forecast websites…but in case you are living under a digital rock somewhere I thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

There is a pretty big storm brewing in the North Pacific right now.

Sorry I am about to weather-geek out for a second. This storm is very intense…check out how freaking tight the rotation is around the core of this storm…



This caption should read "Adam you are such as weather nerd that it actually hurts sometimes…"



The Quikscat satellite is showing 50-70 knots of wind in the center of the storm with a lot of the fetch aiming towards both Hawaii and the West Coast.

So you are saying “yeah yeah big storm…great…so when do the waves get here?”

Hawaii
Well for Hawaii they hit on Feb 14th. It will peak there early in the morning and should be steamrolling spots by sun-up. Most N-WNW facing spots will have easy 10-12+15’ Hawaiian-sized surf. Standout deepwater breaks will have some bigger sets at times.

Since the storm is moving past the islands the swell doesn’t last long…so expect it to drop fast as we head into the 15th.

NorCal
The WNW swell (275-310) hits NorCal on the 15th…it builds in pretty fast through the day but it looks like it actually peaks overnight into the 16th.

The swell will be pretty large north of Point Conception with lots of spots going easy 6-8’ on the face while better NW breaks see 10-15’ faces. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pretty decent sized swell at Maverick’s from this one as well (particularly on the lower tides).

SoCal
We get a much wussier version of this swell compared to the other regions. (if only we could nuke the nearshore islands and shave off point conception…). That being said we should still have plenty of fun. Look for this WNW swell (280-300) to fill in fast on Feb 16th and then hold into the 17th.

Most spots down our way will have some shadowing so wave heights will be consistently in the chest-head high range at most W facing beaches. Standout NW breaks, again in the usual spots in San Diego, Ventura, and the South Bay, will have sets going overhead and overhead+ at times. Right now winds look good for this swell too.

Check back I will have more details as we get closer to the swell’s arrival. (Oh and make sure to check out the surf cams in Hawaii and Valentine’s day…it should be pretty sick. Wavewatch.com has free cams if you are too cheap, like me, to pay for them.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tuesday’s Surf – More WNW swell fun

Tuesday will be another good surf day. (Looks like we are going to have a lot of these over the next several days)

We have a new WNW swell currently filling in this afternoon and it looks like it will peak over night into Tuesday. This new WNW’er is a little better aimed but about the same size as the swell over the weekend.

We can expect surf in the waist-shoulder high range at most spots while the standout breaks, again mostly in San Diego and Ventura, see shoulder-overhead sets on the better parts of the tide swing. With the low tide coming through early in the morning it looks like the dawn patrol could be pretty fun.

Winds look good for Tuesday as well…expect light and variable to light-offshore conditions in the morning with some light NW winds (around 10-15 knots) developing in the afternoon.

While a lot of breaks are going to be picking up energy from this swell I really think that the winter points and reefs are going to be the best call. This is mostly because we don’t have much to break up this swell…and the quickly shifting tide has a tendency to close out the shape on the extreme low-tide…and then turn everything to shorebreak on the high-tide. To get the most out of this swell I would recommend finding a NW facing point/reef that isn’t too tide sensitive. A really good sandbar might be a good back-up if you don’t have anything else close by.

Further out it looks like another pretty good sized storm is brewing in the NPAC…we will have another WNW swell lining up for the 14th and probably another one on the 16th…more details on these in upcoming posts.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Monday’s waves – WNW swell continues

Monday will be a fun surf day.

Our WNW swell from the weekend will continue to put waves on the beaches at the winter spots…we even get a similar sized reinforcement of WNW energy that helps to hold wave heights through the day. On average expect similar sizes to Sunday’s surf…lots of NW spots in the chest-shoulder high+ range while the standout winter breaks, mostly in SD and Ventura, have some overhead sets on the lower tides.

Winds and weather will be nice. Light variable winds through the morning with some onshore NW winds developing through the afternoon. Sunny skies for most of the day.

I love surf days like this…we have had a decent swell for most of the weekend so a lot of people got out into the water and sort of got it out of the system…then a work-day rolls around and presto the line-up seems sort of empty. I think there will be enough swell on tap on Monday that it may be worth driving around and checking a few breaks. If you are looking for bigger surf stick to the San Diego and Ventura areas. OC and LA will have some decent size at the winter spots but those other regions will be more consistent. Santa Barbara will be working but expect less size than other areas.

The high tide will bog things down again but the peak of the tide is a bit later in the day so I think the dawn patrol will be a good call.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Waves for the weekend – Slow Saturday but fun on Sunday.

New swell arrives this weekend. Most of it will be WNW energy (290-300) but there will be a touch of S-SW swell (190-210) hanging in the background. In general Saturday is going to be slow…particularly through the morning high tide. Sunday on the other hand is looking much more fun as the WNW’er fills in.

Here are the details…(which are surprisingly similar to the update I had posted yesterday)

The swell will start arriving on Saturday. It will be pretty slow in the morning but parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura will see an increase in size as we head past lunchtime. It is worth noting that Santa Barbara is mostly shadowed from this swell so don’t expect a ton out of the spots up there (definitely not worth driving for…if you have to drive, go south). Spots south of Rincon will be bigger but you won’t see the main push of the swell until you move into Ventura proper.

OC and San Diego may see a few new waves before sundown…but in general there won’t be much of an increase on Saturday.

On Sunday the new swell will peak. Most NW facing spots will see surf in the waist-shoulder high range while the winter standouts in each area (except Santa Barbara) will have some head high sets at times. The tide will still sort of work it at times so plan your session around the swing.

San Diego spots will see the most energy out of this swell. These areas will have surf consistently in the chest-head high range while the best winter spots, particularly ones that like the long-period swell, will have consistent shoulder-overhead surf.

Winds and weather look good for both days so you should be able to find plenty of spots that are working…if you have the time it may even be worth driving around to find a quality wave.

I will probably see a few of you in the water on Sunday...have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Update: Swell for the weekend

Things are looking good for the new WNW swell (290-300) that arrives over the weekend.

Here is a satellite photo of the NPAC…part of this swell is being kicked out by that big swirling mess north of the Hawaiian Islands.





As for the surf…like I mentioned in the previous post…we are going to get some decent waves from this one. It won’t be super big but it will be better than we have been having and a few select areas (mostly in San Diego and Baja Norte) will have some fairly consistent overhead surf.

The swell will start arriving on Saturday. It will be pretty slow in the morning but parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura will see an increase in size as we head past lunchtime. It is worth noting that Santa Barbara is mostly shadowed from this swell so don’t expect a ton out of the spots up there (definitely not worth driving for…if you have to drive, go south).

OC and San Diego may see a few new waves before sundown…but in general there won’t be much of an increase on Saturday.

On Sunday the new swell will peak. Most NW facing spots will see surf in the waist-shoulder high range while the winter standouts in each area (except Santa Barbara) will have some head high sets at times. The tide will still sort of work it at times so plan your session around the swing.

San Diego spots will see the most energy out of this swell. These areas will have surf consistently in the chest-head high range while the best winter spots, particularly ones that like the long-period swell, will have consistent shoulder-overhead surf.

Winds and weather look good for both days so you should be able to find plenty of spots that are working…if you have the time it may even be worth driving around to find a quality wave.

Friday’s (lack of) waves

Friday is looking pretty slow.

It will be clean and conditions should be nice but there just isn’t much swell in the water. The morning high tide will also give it a good working over so I expect that many breaks will shut almost completely off by mid-morning and stay fairly flooded most of the day.

Once the tide drops we may see a few waist high waves at the better spots but in general it will be pretty weak.

Friday will probably be a good day to skip the surf…or surf your pillow a little longer in the morning. Don’t worry though…we have more waves lining up for the weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Surf on Thursday – Another small & playful day

Thursday will be pretty similar to Wednesday…maybe a touch less swell overall but not really that much difference in size.

We will continue to see a mix of SW and WNW energy in the water along with just a touch of local windswell. Surf will be right around waist high for most areas. San Diego, and maybe the South Bay, will have some chest high sets.

Tides will continue to be an issue…so expect it to be pretty bogged down through most of the morning. There may be a slightly better window for the dawn patrol than we have had for the last couple of days…but even with that it is going to be pretty swamped out.

Winds and weather will be nice. Mostly light offshore and sunny through the morning.

Personally I am going to probably shine it in the morning. Not enough swell to really get me interested…but I may take a look at it during lunch to see if the tide drop helps it.

If you do head down to surf make sure to bring the right gear…longboard or a fish will be the best call…pick a good high-tide spot too…something with a real shallow sandbar or reef would be the best bet.

Swell Alert - Northern and Central California (and some SoCal too!)

I know that I usually only just cover the SoCal region in my blog but I do keep an eye on the surf in other parts of California. Looking at the charts today I saw a pretty good swell lining up for Northern and Central California. This will be one of those good long-period swells that arrive groomed up from traveling a few thousand miles and since the storm is a ways off…the swell will arrive without any junky weather.



(QUIKSCAT wind speeds for this storm)


There will be some swell that filters into SoCal but the majority of the energy hits north of Point Conception. Anyway I just thought I would give you a heads up on this swell…maybe a few of you will drive up to score a few.

Here are the details…

Northern and Central California

This WNW swell (285-300+), which is primarily aimed towards Northern and Central California, will start to arrive in those regions late this week and will eventually peak on Saturday and hold into Sunday. Exposed breaks will begin seeing surf increase on Friday, likely going overhead+ on sets before sundown. As the swell peaks we can expect most exposed breaks to see consistent 8-10’+ faces while the standout breaks have sets nearing triple-overhead at times.

Conditions are looking good for this swell. Winds are looking light and variable for the mornings with only light NW winds expected through the afternoons.


Southern California
The WNW swell (290-300+) doesn’t hit SoCal as well as it hits Norcal but it should still put a few fun waves into the exposed beaches. Timing wise the swell will be running about a day behind…so we will see a slow build in swell on Saturday but the peak of the swell will arrive on Sunday and Monday.

Sizewise SoCal will be much smaller. The average spots will have surf in the waist-chest high+ range while the standouts, mostly in San Diego, will have some shoulder-head high+ sets as the swell peaks.

Like NorCal conditions will be pretty good this weekend. Winds will remain light through the mornings and then turn slightly onshore in the afternoons.


P.S. To those of you on my Email List: Sorry about all the posts last night…I had to make multiple entries in order to get those break maps into the right format. I think I will release them a little slower next time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Surf Break Maps: Huntington Beach, Orange County, California

Huntington Beach, or HB, (or “Surf City USA” if you listen to the lame tourist board marketing hacks) is located along the North Orange County coastline. It stretches almost 8 miles from the Bolsa Chica State Park in the North down to the Santa Ana River Mouth in the South.

In general HB has the most consistent surf in North OC and, in my experience, usually ranks in the top 3 most consistent areas in all of Orange County. (#1 being Trestles, and #2-4 being HB, Newport, and Salt Creek).

A lot of its consistency is due to location on the coast and the length of the beach. HB is lucky enough to cover such a large area that you get a natural “bend” in the beach shape as you move north…so the south end of the beach is actually more exposed to SW swells and the north end of the beach is slightly more west facing. This combination of exposure means that HB can pick up almost any swell…from a very SE direction all the way up to a steep NW swell direction.

Another reason HB keeps the hits coming is that it can pick up the long-period NW swell (290-295+) that most other OC beaches just aren’t exposed to. HB is positioned well enough that the long-period energy hits a few areas of shallow water out past some of the nearshore islands and starts to refract back towards the coast. This refraction eventually focuses the NW swell through the gap between Catalina Island and Palos Verdes and pushes it right into the HB Cliffs area.

HB would probably be the most consistent spot in OC if it weren’t for 2 big issues: Catalina and San Clemente Islands. These islands actually block a ton of SW energy that otherwise would have made it to HB. As the swell angle starts to go more westerly (above 210-degrees) the island blockage starts to take effect. First the north half of HB will be shadowed…then if the swell moves even more west (215-220 degrees) then the rest of HB slips into the shadow.

Contests

HB has a ton of contests throughout the year. They range from small (and kind of cool) high-school/NSSA competitions all the way up through the US Open Monstrosity that they put on every year over the summer. They usually have them at the pier (on the south side) but don’t be surprised if you find one at some random location along the beach. Oh and just to keep you guessing sometimes they will have giant volleyball, paintball, skateboard, and motorcross contests at random times…really though I just think they like to have them to screw up traffic on PCH.


The Surf

Since Huntington is so large there are a lot of different types of waves…you can find a spot for every type of skill level, from beginner through expert. Some spots will even change from a beginner break to a more challenging spot as we move through the seasonal changes.

Sandbar formation and movement also plays a large role in the quality of surf. Generally the sandbars stick the usual spots (near rivers, piers, storm drains, things like that). But occasionally you get one to crop up in a less obvious area…it is sometimes worth it to hunt around…you might find one at a much less crowed section of the beach.

Generally Huntington Beach is broken down into 6 surf areas:




1. Bolsa Chica State Beach
2. HB Cliffs
3. North City Beach
4. HB Pier
5. South HB City Beach and HB State Beach
6. Brookhurst

(Click on a surf area for more information)

Surf Break Maps: HB - Bolsa Chica State Beach

Most of the year Bolsa Chica is a longboard break and decent beginner spot. Now I know that most of the Bolsa warriors don’t really want a bunch of brand-new surfers spastically paddling around and getting in everyone’s way any more than guys at other spots do…but you have to admit that the slow rolling shape, generally short paddle, and mostly wide open beach is a great place to learn.





Bolsa generally works best on a combo of both S swell (170-195) and WNW swell (270-280). It does work with just one swell or with a combo of windswell and a longer period swell but it seems to pack the most bang for your buck when you get the 2 (or more) long-period swells.

A couple of years ago they successfully built the Bolsa Chica outflow, which finally connected the Bolsa marshes with the ocean. In the process they dropped a couple of large jetties to stabilize the out-flow. The combination of these jetties and more sand being pushed out of the out-flow has started to create better wave shape at the south end of the state beach area. Beginners will probably want to avoid this spot…the waves are faster, sometimes more hollow, and it is generally more crowded with good surfers.

Spot details:
Best swell direction:
Combo of S swell (170-195) and WNW swell (270-280).
Best Wind: N-NE-E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Sand
Best Season: Late summer through Fall, with biggest waves in the Winter.
Crowds: It gets crowded near the out-flow almost every morning…more so when there is swell. Expect a lot of surfers in the summer with all of the surf camps. Weekends can be a joke.

Surf Break Maps: HB Cliffs

Actually part of the HB City beach the HB Cliffs are located just south of Bolsa Chica. The Cliffs get their name thanks to a small little costal mesa that extends out to the beach. The mesa is being slowly eroded away and in the process it has produced a short cliff that sits right on the edge of the sand. Over the years they have had a couple of sidewalks slide off the cliff…so the bottom of the hillside is littered with a mix of rock, broken concrete and rebar…none of which is in the water.



The cliffs are another one of those spots that has two distinct personalities…the one we see most of the year is sort of soft and slow but is still fun wave. You can longboard on the smaller days but it gets fast enough to shortboard on a lower tide, particularly with a swell combo. It is usually better with the lower tide and has a tendency to get bogged down by too much water.

When we get big NW swells its whole attitude changes…the surf can get very heavy, dumpy, and the paddle to the outside can be brutal. It will actually hold a pretty sizeable wave as the swell really gets going…many spots will start to close out but the Cliffs will still have some makeable sections.

When the swell goes “really big” you actually start to see a bigger peak start to form on the outside, just north of a spot called the Gap. This spot has a lot of names, usually it is called Trolley Cars, Trolleys, or Box Cars. It is so hard to make it to the outside when Trolleys starts to break that not many people surf it.

Like most of HB the HB Cliffs seem to work best on a combo of S and WNW swell but you can also find some really good days on hurricane SE swells and moderate to big long-period WNW swell as well.

Spot details:
Best swell direction: Combo of S swell (170-195) and WNW swell (270-295).
Best Wind: N-NE-E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Sand
Best Season: Summer, Fall, but biggest in the Winter
Crowds: Crowded in the mornings and on weekends. It sort of empties out as the swell starts going overhead for some reason.