Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thursday’s Surf – Finally a few clean waves

Thursday looks like a halfway decent surf day.

We will have a mix of slowly fading WNW windswell, leftover S-SW swell, and some new SW swell (200-220) that will be arriving with long-period energy through the morning filling in slowly throughout the day.

Most exposed breaks will hold surf in the knee-chest high range. Standout SW facing spots, and good combo breaks will be more consistently around chest high and will start to see a few chest-shoulder high sets sneaking through as we get closer to the afternoon.

The new SW’er may be a little inconsistent at times so expect to wait around for sets.

Winds will be much better than we experienced on Wednesday. Look for them to start off mostly light and variable to light ESE (down through OC and San Diego)…all areas should stay below 5-knots in the morning. These winds shift onshore through the day and eventually push in out of the W around 10-12+ knots for the afternoon.

San Diego and South OC will likely be your best bet for surf tomorrow. They will both have decent exposure to both the WNW and SW swell mix, which will let the windswell fill in the gaps between the SW sets. The north South Bay and Southern Ventura will be decent fall-back regions but won’t have much of the building SW energy.

Don’t expect it to be outstanding tomorrow…just a lot better than it has been for the last few days. I would still probably make a cam check in the morning…just so you don’t get skunked by the tide…or pick a shadowed spot on accident.

Official Forecast Update: 6.0 Lowers Pro and Oakley Pro Junior

Hey guys here is a new forecast that I put together for the 6.0 Lowers Pro. This one is for Thursday...conditions look a lot better. If you can't make it down to the beach it may be sort of fun to watch on the live stream...

Here is the link

Here is the actual forecast...effective for Thursday May 1.

Thursday both the surf and the conditions will turn around and start to improve.
We will have a mix of S-SW swell, local NW windswell, and a new SW swell (200-220) that will be filling in with long swell-periods and inconsistent sets.

Wave heights will continue to hold in the waist-chest high range on the average sets and there will be some shoulder high+ sets sneaking through at times...particularly as the new SW swell builds in more during the afternoon.

The winds/conditions will make the biggest improvement compared to the last couple of days. Look for mostly light and variable to light ESE winds all below 5 knots through the morning. Winds will shift light onshore around lunchtime, and then will pick up out of the W-WNW around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.

We will also have sunny skies after the morning marine layer burns off...should be a pretty nice day for competition.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shark Attack! – Ixtapa, Mainland Mexico

Please don’t take this the wrong way…first and foremost my heart goes out to this surfers family and friends. I am a father, brother, and family man first and foremost so this is not me being flippant…

…but seriously you have to be f-ing kidding me!...two fatal shark attacks within a week! This is a freaking nightmare.

If you are reading this for the first time here are the details…according to news reports another surfer, Adrian Ruiz from San Francisco, died from wounds suffered during a shark attack. The attack occurred along the coast of Mainland Mexico…close to the Ixtapa area…specifically 45 minutes west at an area called Troncones beach.

Here are links to the stories if you need more details…

This is part of the story on MSNBC

Here is the link to the story on Surfline

Wednesday's Eddy - More stupid wind

Wednesday will be semi-surfable in the morning, particularly for parts of LA County and North Orange County. Other areas will have some wind issues.

We will have a mix of S-SW swell and WNW windswell showing through the morning. A new SW swell starts showing late in the day, basically right around sundown, with some extremely long-periods (22-second periods).

Surfwise the average spots will hold around waist high. The better combo breaks will be more consistently in the waist-chest high+ range. Standout spots in the South Bay, Southern Ventura, South Orange County, and most of San Diego will have surf in the chest-shoulder high range with a rare bigger set rolling through at times.

Winds will be the issue again...the eddy will continue to hold over SoCal through tomorrow morning, but it will anchor a bit closer to land (sort of over the South Bay), which is actually a lot better than having it further out to sea.

With the eddy close to land we can expect Santa Barbara through North LA to see NW winds in the 5-12 knot range with the winds lightening up the closer you get to Santa Monica. The South Bay through North Orange County will have variable winds below 5-knots. Then as you move down the coast, Southern Orange County and San Diego will have S winds around 10-knots.

All spots will have W winds around 10-15 knots by the afternoon with the breeziest winds showing through the northern regions.

Again it won't be worth spending a lot of time hunting around for surf tomorrow...if you happen to live close to a cleaner spot you should check the cam in the morning, or ride your beach cruiser down the beach (you lucky bastard). If you have to drive too far it is sort of going to be a roll-of-the-dice it may not be worth it unless you are really surf-stoked.

Official Forecast for the 6.0 Lowers Pro - Wednesday's Contest Forecast

So I am sitting here checking out the 6.0 Lowers Pro Contest on the live stream (3:30pm) and it still looks sort of surfable down there...not clean...or even very good...but surfable in that "I would paddle out if I lived up the street from this wave" sort of way. That was more of an observation...I wasn't really going any where with that. Anyway here is the forecast is focused on the conditions for Wednesday.

Forecast For Wednesday: Wednesday will be another challenging surf day...the mix of onshore winds and bumpy conditions will continue as strong gusts in the outer waters keep the coastal eddy spinning over the inner waters.

Surfwise it will be a mix of WNW windswell and leftover S-SW swell through most of the morning. Expect waist-chest high surf on most of the average waves while the standout sets see some shoulder high+ sets.

Conditions will start out a bit sloppier than Tuesday. Look for S winds around 10 knots through the morning. Those winds shift SW and increase to 10-15 knots by lunchtime and eventually top out around 15-20 knots by the afternoon.

There is one piece of good forecast news though...New long-period SW swell (200-220) starts to arrive late in the day, showing mostly on the buoys at first, and then will start to fill in more on Thursday...eventually peaking Friday and into Saturday, (right as the conditions start to improve.)

Random Tuesday Morning Update: Looks surfable but it won’t last long

I was up checking the surf this morning and thought I would throw out a little morning update.

It does look sort of semi-surfable this morning…well if you don’t mind surfing fat windswelly waves that have a bit of variable onshore texture.

It is definitely not the cleanest or best shaped surf I have ever seen but there are a few rideable peaks throughout all of SoCal…and the winds are still light enough that they haven’t jacked anything up.

Right now San Diego is reporting surf in the knee-waist high range pretty consistently…with some chest high+ sets sneaking through at the top breaks.

Orange County is a touch smaller…more in the knee-waist high+ range at the top spots.

Los Angeles is running with similar sizes…knee-chest high through the top spots in the South Bay. North LA is more in the knee to occasional waist high, tide swamped, but pretty clean as you get close to the Malibu/Dume areas.

Ventura is a bit sloppier…winds are more onshore here than in other spots. Surf is about knee-chest high with a lot of windswell influence. Sort of stacked up windswelly lines with the onshore texture to go with it.

Santa Barbara is a bit cleaner but smaller since it is less exposed to both swells. Look for mostly knee high+ surf through that area.

Finally here is the current morning wind analysis…you can see where the texture/winds will be developing over the next few hours.

Official Forecast Update: 6.0 Lowers Pro and Oakley Pro Junior

Hey Gang...I put together a forecast update for the Lowers contests that start today. I thought I would post it up on the blog so you can check it isn't much different than my normal forecast but it is quite a bit more specific for the Trestles area.

I always dig watching these contests live for a few minutes (while I should be working) if you get some free time you should check it out. is the forecast update...I will post another one later today (for tomorrow).

Surf conditions and shape start off OK (fair) in the morning but begin to fall apart around midday and continue to junk up as we move into the afternoon.

Swellwise we will have a mix of new but small S-SW swell (195-205) from the Southern Hemisphere and some steadily building NW windswell moving in from local waters.

Look for surf to hold around knee-waist high+ for most of the morning with a rare chest high set sneaking in inconsistently. Waist-chest high surf will become more consistent by the afternoon as the windswell gets going but shape will begin to deteriorate as onshore bump moves in as well.

Expect light S-SW winds, maybe even light and variable, through the dawn patrol. SW winds around 5-10 knots move in through mid-morning and then stronger W winds capping out near 10-15 knots fill in through the afternoon. Shape and conditions will likely be a struggle through the second part of the day.

Random FYI…Wednesday looks just as bad if not worse…but conditions will clean up and new swell fills in as we head to the weekend. If competitors can make it through the first rounds of competition they will have a lot of fun with the better winds and building SW swell. The finals are looking pretty fun...with the potential for head high+ surf from the new SW'er.

Here are the links to the websites to watch it live today

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tuesday's Surf - Going to get hit with the ugly stick

Tuesday may have a small pocket of surfiness in the morning but it looks like the afternoon will be pretty sloppy.

In the water we will have a mix of small WNW leftovers, a weak SW swell, and some building local NW windswell.

Most spots will have surf in the knee-waist high range...with a few inconsistent chest high sets sneaking through on the tide push.

Standout breaks, mostly in San Diego and the LA South bay, will have waist-chest high surf with a few bigger waves in the afternoon as the windswell builds in.

Weather will really be the issue tomorrow...winds in the outer waters are going to try and start the eddy but with the low anchored a bit further out toward San Clemente island than usual.

The result is that OC and San Diego will have light/variable onshore winds through the morning while Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles, will all see stronger W-NW winds around 10 knots through the morning. All areas will have W winds around 10-15+ knots by the afternoon.

Here check out this chart...

You can sort of see how it is going to break down.

Really your best bet is going to be a cam-check in the morning. There may be a pocket of clean conditions forming during the you shouldn't totally write off the chance of getting a few waves. It won't be worth driving very far but you might be able to find a couple of surfable peaks at your local top spots. So keep the small-wave boards dusted off...and make sure to make a cam check in the morning before jamming down to the beach.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Monday’s Surf – Starting the week off slow

Monday looks pretty similar to Sunday. Mostly small but playful surf with some decent beach weather (but cooling off just a bit).

Look for a mix of WNW energy and some background SW swell. Most spots will continue to hold around knee high+ while the standout combo spots, mostly through San Diego and a few select spots in the other areas, will have some waist to chest high surf.

Winds will be light and variable through the morning with light onshore flow out of the W around 10 knots for the afternoon.

Again it looks like a mostly longboard day…unless you are lucky enough to live close to some of the top San Diego surf spots. Those best breaks may have a bit more punch to them…might be able to get your fish or small wave board out and pick off a few.

Don’t spend a ton of time looking for waves…unless you have the day off and driving around from beach to beach is how you like to spend your time…because there would likely be a lot of that. There just won’t be a ton to find out there. Best bet is to just get a few longboard waves at your local spot and call it a morning.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weekend Wave's: Fun in the sun

While the surf won't be stellar this weekend it does look like we can have some fun...particularly since the weather is supposed to be extra nice along the coast. (which means that people in the Inland Empire will be spontaneously bursting into flames when they walk outside).

Surfwise we are going to see a slight increase in wave heights as a mix of small WNW energy and slowly building S-SW swell move in and help out the surf.

On average most spots will hold around the knee-waist high range for both days...but a few of the standout combo spots, mostly in San Diego, will have some inconsistent chest high sets. These waves will actually get a little more consistent with just a touch more size as the swell mix strengthens into Sunday.

Winds look clean for both mornings...mostly light offshore to light and variable. Afternoon winds come in out of the W around 10-15 knots.

Like I said the surf won't be super exciting this weekend but it will have a few playful waves at the better breaks. Personally I think it will be an excellent weekend for beginner surfers...the surf will be mellow and still uncrowded enough that they can get a few waves without getting in each others way. Being a bigger guy I will probably stick to the longboard this weekend but if, on Sunday, I see a few more chest high sets sneaking through I might try to get a little session with my fish...I will probably pack both in the truck. Besides with weather in the upper-70s to low-80's along the beach it will be worth spending some time at the coast.

Another Shark Attack - Swimmer Killed off Solana Beach

Seriously I am so sick of talking about sharks...but it is hard to ignore a story when someone is hurt or killed by one.

From the initial news reports a man, in his 60's, was swimming with a group of other swimmers in the ocean while they trained for a triathlon. They were a ways offshore when according to witnesses a large "grey" shark attacked the man, who eventually died from his wounds.

Here are some links to the News Stories that I found online...

Terry Rodgers' report from the San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE is probably one of the better ones...

Here are a couple of others...,1,2305377.story

Here is some video...

Think that this is going to become a more of a trend or is it still just another case of bad luck? Drop me some comments on the blog and tell me what you think...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another SW swell Alert: Another good shot of SW swell on the way

Yep that is right…another round of SW swell is being kicked out from the Southern Hemi. It will be sending another pulse of overhead to well-overhead surf to Central America and Mainland Mexico.

Baja Sur will have a smaller but still very fun pulse of SW energy.

Southern California, on the other hand, will once again get the shaft by the South Pacific Island shadow. Sure we will get a few waves but it will be quite a bit weaker and less consistent than other areas.

I was checkout out this storm today trying to get a read on the wave heights and noticed that at first glance it had a lot of characteristics of the last Southern Hemi storm that kicked out a big SW swell. (You can see how well that swell hit Mainland Mexico, and Hawaii)

Looking closer there are some pretty big differences…here check it out

These next 2 QUIKSCAT images are from the current storm…

While this next series is from the last one…

First off you note that the new storm is not nearly as strong as the last one…it is still healthy but it doesn’t have that “eye of mordor” black hole in the core of the storm…(its core is more like an angry purple). Just because it is lacking wind speeds doesn’t mean that it will be too much smaller surfwise. It does have a few other things that the first storm didn’t.

It has a longer, more established fetch…in fact it is moving over an area that had what we call “an established sea state” which happens to be already pointed in a good general direction…so the storm doesn’t have to waste energy trying to produce the sea-state needed to generate swell…it just hops on the work another cold-front and starts kicking out waves tag-team style. The fetch is also a bit wider which only adds to the energy it will impart to the swell

Finally this storm looks like it has a better movement track…particularly for Mainland Mex and Central America…it is moving more towards those areas than slightly “against the grain” like the last system did.

What does all this mean? Well basically I think that even though the storm wasn’t as strong as the first one it did have enough other positive factors to produce a swell very close to what we saw with the last swell.

So on to the Surf…

Mainland Mexico and Central America will see this swell start to arrive on the 29th…with the peak of the swell hitting late on the 30th and then holding strong through May 1-3rd. Look for surf consistently in the head-high to well overhead range for the average exposed breaks. Standout deepwater spots, particularly those in Mainland Mexico (Like Puerto Escondido) will have sets hitting around the double-overhead range.

Baja Sur sees less of the swell but still plenty of playful waves. Look for this swell to arrive more on the 30th but peak May 1-3. As the swell peaks most spots will hold around shoulder-high+ on the sets while the standout spots see overhead sets.

Southern California and Baja Norte will see shadowing by the South Pacific Islands along with some potential wind problems as strong NW flow moves into the area the same time as the swell. Look for the swell to start showing late on the 30th, fill in slowly on May 1st and then peak May 2-3. Look for mostly waist-chest high waves for the exposed areas and some shoulder high+ waves at the standouts, which will be mostly in Northern San Diego and Southern Orange County.

That is about all I got for this swell…I wish it had a better swell-angle for SoCal but you can’t win them all. There are a couple of decent storms way under Australia right now…so it will be interesting to see what they do once they reach the South Pacific…I am sure I will be filling you in on them later.

Friday's Surf: I wish the weekend would get here already

Sorry about all the random posts today...for some reason I am quite bloggy. I will warn you that I will probably post one more this evening because there is a pretty good looking SW swell lining up for Baja, Mainland Mex, and Central America next week.

Anyway on to the surf.

Friday will have a few waves but overall it will be on the small side and probably better for longboarding than anything else.

We will have a mix of small WNW windswell energy and some weak SW swell. Again most spots will hold around knee high...maybe knee high+ on the sets. Standout combo spots, mostly through Orange County and San Diego will have surf in the waist-high+ range.

It will be clean in the morning with winds starting off light and variable. Eventually the winds will turn onshore out of the W-NW around 10-15 knots during the afternoon.

Your best bet is to break out the log...find some cold water wax and work on your nose-riding. There won't be a lot of push to the surf but a few of the beach breaks with decent sandbars should have a faster section or two. I would try and surf early...the lighter winds will definitely help shape...once the bounce gets to it in the afternoon it will be pretty ugly.

Playful wave alert - Don't bury the North's not dead yet.

I was about ready to put up the "closed for the season" sign for the North Pacific Storm Track but as usual Mother Nature has different plans.

Over the past 24+ hours a decent little storm spun up into a holding position NNE of Hawaii, just off the edge of the Gulf of Alaska.

Now before you get all excited...this is definitely not a big isn't even a large or strong has just enough energy to make me want to mention it in the blog.

The good news is that it will be kicking out a string of playful sized swell for Northern California and as a bonus it will send out a small pulse of WNW energy for Southern California as well.

Here is are a few pics of the system

This is the QUIKSCAT Satellite

This is the wavewatchIII wave model

And here is the FNMOC - EFS Gale Warning ensemble (which basically tells you where strong winds are forecast to develop)

Yes I know..."lots of pretty pictures...thanks for about some surf?"

Whatever are the forecasts for this system

Northern California will see W-WNW swell (280-300) arriving throughout the day on Saturday and eventually peaking overnight into Sunday. As the swell peaks look for W facing breaks to have surf in the waist-shoulder high+ range while the standout spots see some overhead sets mixing in at times. Winds should be only OK for this period...NW flow around 10-15 knots will keep some of the more exposed breaks fairly bumpy...but the better westerly angle of this swell means that more energy will be able to wrap into the more protected spots. Essentially we will have some decent size surf at the sheltered areas of Santa Cruz and the Central Coast along with some protection from the wind. (also worth noting that this storm is expected to jump in the Gulf over the next 48-72 hours and in the process set up a steeper NW swell for early next week).

Southern California (and Baja Norte) will see this swell arrive slowly on Sunday...then peak Sunday afternoon into Monday. It won't be breaks will be around knee-waist high with some chest high sets...but it will help to cross up some small SW swell at the combo breaks adding a little size, more consistency, and better shape at the top spots.

Anyway like I said nothing to get super fired up about but since the NPAC is about to close up shop I thought it would be worth mentioning.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Pipeline to a Cure

Hey Gang,

My friends that are associated with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation sent over some cool stuff about a Black-Tie and Flip-Flop benefit dinner for the CF Foundation.

Apparently they have put together a big Gala (faaabulous!) Event together that will be at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach this sounds like a good time for a good cause.

If you aren't that familiar with Cystic Fibrosis here is a video that can get you up to speed. It actually features a local SoCal surfer named Emily...

Here are the details on the release from CF Foundation.

We are pleased to announce that plans are underway for PACSUN’S PIPELINE TO A CURE Dinner Gala benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, scheduled for Saturday, July 19, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, California. This black tie and flip flop gala will be recognizing the positive effect that surfing has on the lung health of children with cystic fibrosis. We are thrilled to join with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, our title sponsor PACSUN, Honorary Co-Chairmen Laird Hamilton and David Kalama and the Kelly Slater Foundation in this inaugural event.

PIPELINE TO A CURE is a fundraising campaign which recognizes the remarkable connection between surfing and this deadly genetic disease. One of the serious effects of cystic fibrosis is the production of thick sticky mucus which clogs the lungs and leads to life threatening lung infections. In recent years, doctors in Australia identified surfers with cystic fibrosis having significantly healthier lungs than their non surfer patients. While many surfers have long known the positive health effects of saltwater on the sinuses, it is simply amazing that saltwater mist has a direct positive effect on the lungs of CF patients. Doctors have since developed a breathing treatment called Hypertonic Saline Solution which helps cystic fibrosis patients eliminate this bacteria laden mucus. This new therapy daily mimics a “surf session” for the lungs of those who suffer from cystic fibrosis.

We would like to extend to you an incredible opportunity to support this event by participating as a sponsor, attendee or donating an ITEM or CERTIFICATE to be auctioned off the evening of the gala. Attached is a Sponsor Packet and Donation Agreement, a recent press release and a You Tube video of a young surfer with cystic fibrosis. You will be glad to know that over 90 cents on the dollar raised goes directly towards finding a cure for those that suffer from cystic fibrosis.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration. We look forward to your participation. If you have any questions, please contact Monika Gilbert at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at or by phone at 714-938-1393.

If you are interested in the event make sure to contact Monika of you can visit the website for more information

Random SW swell Alert: RECAP – Part 2

Here are some more photos from the S-SW swell…I actually got these a few days ago from my buddy over in the islands.

If you remember that alert-post I sent out…I mentioned that there was a pretty good dose of S swell from that storm headed to Hawaii. Well it looked pretty good when it got there.

Check out these photos... (somewhere in the islands)

If you have any more photos from this swell feel free to send them over...I will throw them up on the bloggy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Official Surf Forecast for the 6.0 Lowers Pro

Hey gang!

Since I am the official forecaster for the (Nike) 6.0 Lowers Pro this year…and I have this cool blog that lets me post all kinds of random poop…I thought I would throw out the official forecast that I sent on to the contest guys today. I normally don’t post a lot of commercialized stuff but since I am involved this year I thought it would be ok. (well that and the fact that I am still working on getting my own special contest heat where I get to surf Lowers with 3 other guys)

Anyways check out the forecast…(I did the layout wife is going to let me hang it on the fridge!)

I dig the contest posters/images as well…

Here are a couple of those.

And here is the website, for some reason it is really hard to find using google…bad SEO juju…

Thursday’s Surf: Looking a bit fugly

Depending on where you live you may want to skip trying to surf on Thursday. Like it says in the title…things are looking a bit fugly.

There will be a few waves thanks to the small but steady mix of WNW windswell and weak S-SW pulses that continue to hang on. Most breaks can expect surf in the knee high+ range. Standout W facing windswell spots will have some waist-high+ sets.

The wind is what will be causing most of the problems. N-NW winds are expected to hold pretty steady for most of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles. Expect N-NW winds around 10+ knots, (sort of side-onshore for the west facing breaks…but cleaner at S facing spots and the inside areas of certain points).

Orange County and San Diego are expected to be cleaner with the winds shifting more N to NNE on the forecast charts...though I am not sure how much I trust them considering that it focusing on such a small area. Let’s just say, at this point, look for lighter winds blowing from a better direction in OC and SD and cross our fingers. (you have to love my forecasting style sometimes)

I would suggest playing it by ear tomorrow. The surf will be small and the winds not-so-good, which is never a great combo. That being said there are always a couple of manageable pockets that can be fun if you just want to catch a couple of waves…so your best bet is to check the cameras in the morning and only head down to the beach if you see a couple of decent waves…otherwise don’t waste your gas/sanity/time (whichever you find more valuable).

Random SW Swell Alert: RECAP

Hey gang...I got a great email yesterday from a guy that shot down to Mainland Mexico for a surgical strike on that last SW swell

Not only did the guy freaking score he also managed to shoot some sick photos and kept his head enough to take notes on the swell activity. (Always make sure to take notes can reverse engineer the forecast so that you can score the same place again!)

First check out these photos

And here is the breakdown of his trip...I wish I had been there (not staring at this stupid computer).

Thursday evening – fun 90 minute session at Manzanillo Bay with sets going a foot or two OH

Friday a.m. – Boat to the Ranch (same captain we had – Ramon)… sets going 3+ feet OH and super clean…. Manageable crowd. Also surfed for 2 hours solo at “A-frames”, a spot just 5 minutes past the Ranch. 4 hour session.

Friday p.m. – Arrive at Nexpa to find the Mexican National Surf Championships in progress. Make the call to drive another 2-1/2 hours to Ticla. Surf huge sketchy reef on way up.

Saturday – Mind blowing Ticla. Clean all day. Sets going DOH. No crowd. 250+ yard rippable lefts…. Just an insane wave.

Sunday – See above with slightly smaller sets.

Monday – 5 hour session at the Ranch and A-frames. Sets still a couple feet OH.

...the lucky dog.

If you are interested in checking out the original forecast post here it is...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wednesday’s Surf: Leftovers again

Wednesday will be another surf day...and while it won’t be great it should be fun enough if you paddle out with the right mindset.

Surfwise we are going to have a mix of fading SW swell and some steady but smaller WNW windswell. In fact it will look a lot like today's CDIP wave model.

The average breaks will hold around knee-waist high. Standout spots, mostly the good combo breaks in San Diego and a few other combo spots spread throughout Southern California, will see some chest high sets. The windswell will be driving a lot of the shape and the don’t expect a ton of push to the surf. If you look up at Santa Barbara you can see not much is making it past the tag-team of Point Conception to the north and the Channel Islands to the south...just a lot of dark blue loneliness.

Winds are expected to start off light and variable to light offshore for most areas. San Diego spots may be a touch more onshore rather than variable, but even there winds will remain light.

It won’t be worth spending time driving around looking for better surf, so if you see a couple of playful waves at your favorite spots just paddle out. The dawn patrol will be your best call...winds will be light and we will have enough playful swell in the water to make it worth heading out. About the only thing that you may want to watch out for is the low-morning is getting a bit drained out make sure to pick spots that can handle less water.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesday’s Surf – A few ones in the AM

Tuesday will be a surf day…well ok…it will be another surf morning.

We will have a mix of windswell, fading SW energy, and a few random background pulses floating around. Most spots will be in the knee-waist high+ range. Top combo breaks will be in the waist-chest high range…with a couple of larger sets lurking around San Diego.

Winds will be mostly light and variable for spots from Santa Barbara through Orange County. San Diego will see some variable onshore texture…but it should be on the light side as well. Afternoon winds come onshore out of the W around 10-15+ knots.

Tuesday will be real similar to the last couple of days but with smaller wave heights (yeah that is just great isn’t it). So your best bet will be to get out early, try and pick off a few playful ones at your local combo spot, and then cross your fingers that the wind holds off for a while. Small wave gear or just a good utility board will be the call tomorrow…don’t expect any critical drops or anything. Personally I am going give it a quick cam-check in the morning…if it looks good then maybe I will motivate…it will be a lot more fun than going to the gym.

Andy Davis, Alex Knost & Tyler Warren art show on Friday!

Hey Gang...there is another art show at my friend's Gallery this Friday (April 25th).

If you go make sure to grab Will and give him a good nuggie for me...(he really likes it when you do that).

Here are the details.

Andy Davis, Alex Knost & Tyler Warren show on Friday!

The Show: Long Live Love

Artists: Andy Davis, Alex Knost & Tyler Warren

When: Friday, April 25, 2008 from 6-10 p.m.

Where: The Surf Gallery 911 S. Coast Hwy. Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Contact: 949-376-9155

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monday’s Surf – Morning Love

Monday will be a surf day…well at least the morning will start off that way.

We will have a mix of peaking/slowly-fading SW swell and some persistent (but smaller than the weekend) WNW windswell.

Average breaks will hold in the waist-chest high+ range while standout S facing breaks, good NW windswell areas, and the combo spots, see shoulder-high+ sets. Santa Barbara breaks will be smaller…mostly knee-waist high at the better w-facing breaks.

Winds look ok in the morning…particularly for the large area from Santa Barbara down through Northern San Diego. South SD is the only semi-problem in the whole bunch. Forecasts are calling for South San Diego to see light onshore winds…compared to the light-offshore winds that the other areas will have.

Winds pick up about mid-morning so look for plenty of onshore texture by lunchtime and even more on tap by the afternoon.

Really your best bet is to get on it early...the winds will be good and there will be enough swell leftover to grab a few fun ones. You shouldn’t have to hunt around too much either…there is enough windswell, and the SW swell is now south enough that we won’t see much island shadowing. Basically you will be able to find a couple of fun peaks close to home.

It feels like it is going to be pretty chilly for the dawn patrol, and now that my new wetsuit has a hole in it, I am going to probably do a morning “surf-cam-check” on the computer before really committing myself…likely, if the winds hold, I will paddle out and get a couple around mid-morning.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ocean Science 101: How to use the NOAA and Scripps Buoys

I am sure that this will be a review for many of you out there but I thought I would through together a little instructional post on how to use the various types of buoys that we have in the Southern California area.

On the surface buoys are pretty simple to understand. They are basically floating sensor platforms…part weather station and part ocean measuring system. They give us near real-time observations of ocean and weather conditions, usually for a fixed point near a coastline or sometimes in the deep ocean water.

Weather buoys have been around for a long time…they used to be the lifeblood for oceanographers and meteorologists before we had reliable weather satellites. They started out fairly simple measuring wave heights, ocean/air temps, and wind speeds if you were lucky. They were effective though…and for many years they gave the coastal areas, sailors, and surfers advanced warning of incoming storms and increasing seas.

Today buoys are pretty sophisticated, they can give you precise information on incoming swells, even with multiple swells running at the same time. They gather data on wave heights, swell-periods, swell directions, water temps, wind-speeds, wind-directions, and barometric pressure, all of which is broadcast in both radio and digital formats. The digital information is processed by NOAA (and Scripps Institute) computers and is eventually updated on the internet.

With all of the new satellite information and computer wave-models nowadays I think that buoys sometimes get overlooked…or at least people don’t use them as much as they should. Satellite information is great but it is generally pretty small-scale…or so narrow in its view that it misses out on key information. Wave models are good but they are the end result of crunching the mass of data spit out by the various pressure models…and if they get crap data going in (like underestimating the strength of a particular area of fetch) then you get crap data coming out (a wave forecast that misses a swell entirely). With buoys, if they are functioning properly, you get actual measured empirical data. If the buoy is close, or at least geographically relevant, then the buoys are a great way to validate a forecast, or make adjustments as necessary.

For the average surfer the buoys are a great way to paint yourself an accurate picture of what is happening swell-wise and wind-wise in our local waters. Armed with that knowledge you can make good choices on where and when to surf, keeping yourself safe and, almost equally important, helping you score some quality waves.

The two types of buoys

For Southern California there are really just two main types of buoys…and it isn’t that the buoy systems use radically different equipment…it is more about which organization runs/maintains the buoys and how each group presents its information for public consumption.

The two types of buoys are:

1. NOAA Buoys
2. Scripps/Coastal Data Information Program (or CDIP)

Personally I like the Scripps/CDIP buoys better…particularly for Southern California. NOAA’s buoys are good, they have the outer deepwater buoys which are awesome for advance warning of NW swells, but they present their information in a much more convoluted manner that screams government bureaucracy and information systems built by low-bid contractors. What is funny is that the NOAA buoys can actually do almost everything that the Scripps buoys can but you need to repurpose the data in a more useful format.

Finding, understanding, and using the Buoy Information for Southern California

Ok now that we got the background information out of the way I am going to walk you through how I personally use the buoy network, which encompasses NOAA and Scripps/CDIP equipment.

We sort of have to start with how to find and use the buoy info.

First off…probably the most useful and 100% free buoy website is This site has been a fixture in my forecasting repertoire pretty much forever…long before I ever became a professional surf forecaster…hell it has been a favorite bookmark since I have had the internet.

So using you have a couple of choices in how you start to look at the buoy data…it all depends on preference.

If you are a visual person then I recommend starting here…

If it just looks like your computer threw up all over the page don’t worry…that is normal. If you couldn’t tell it is a bit jumbled at first but you can click on the socal region and eventually it ends up narrowing down the focus to this…

(link to live data )

This is more detailed with a larger scale…it helps you get familiar with the locations of the buoys, which can help you determine if the buoy is being shadowed by the coast, nearshore island, or other features. I recommend this view for people that are just getting into checking the buoys…the map view helps you piece the whole picture together much faster.

From this page you can see the current buoy conditions, including the dominant swell direction and swell period. It also overlays it on top of NOAA’s WaveWatchIII swell-model, which is the psychedelic color scheme in the background.

You can mouse over each of the buoys (NOAA buoys with the red arrows and Scripps/CDIP buoys with the blue ones)…

and click one of the buoy stations to get more specific data from that buoy.

NOAA Buoys

You read above that I am not all that stoked on the NOAA buoys…this next section is exactly why.

When you click on a NOAA buoy it lobs you into NOAA’s buoy pages…here check out this live link…

As you can see it gives you a ton of information…which is ok if you are looking for current info, which is summarized on the first page. But if you need historical data, (which we do because swells do hit in the middle of the night), it disjoints it…so you have to visit different sub-links to paint yourself an accurate picture of what has been going on since you last looked at the buoy.

If you need to get older data then, for most people, I would recommend just clicking the chart-info button for the most important data points…wave-height, swell-period, wind-direction, and mean-wave-direction.

This is the data that you would see…

I know what are saying…

”seriously Adam I have been reading about all the cool shit a buoy can do and you show me this piece of crap”

Trust me I feel your pain…leave it to the government to suck the fun out of something.

Actually this brutally ugly chart is telling me some pretty important info…check this out.

See how the dominant swell period has been holding around 10-12 seconds for the last few days…then it suddenly jumps up to the 22-second swell periods? This is a good indication of some sort of change. Either a new swell is arriving or the other shorter period swell is dropping to a point where the long-period swell becomes dominant. By itself it doesn’t give me the full picture but if I bring in the other buoy info, and my forecast, I can validate that the new SW swell has started to arrive…and that I should start working on my hacking cough so that I can sound convincing when I call in sick to work tomorrow.

It is a lot of work to get info out of the NOAA data…personally I use them for mostly current data…unless the buoy is one of the far-offshore ones that has no Scripps/CDIP counterpart.

Scripps/CDIP Buoys

The data format from these buoys blows doors off the NOAA stuff…about the only drawbacks to these buoys is that they don’t easily present historical data that is older than 24 hours and that they don’t display wind speed/direction.

Here check out a live link…

Ok on this buoy page we have all of the summarized and historical data accessiable on the same page and in the same format. It also gives us the full spectrum of swell-directions and swell-periods of the energy in the water at the recorded time.

If you look at the cool looking roulette wheel-thingee at the top left of the graphic. This is showing the current swell-directions, broken out by swell-periods.

The percentage table on the top right shows the distribution of swell energy, by swell period. The graph on the bottom left shows the same thing but in a visual format.

If you mouse-over either the bar-graph or the swell-direction compass you will get that actual “wave-height” of that spectrum of swell-period. So, on the pictured chart for example, you can see that there is 1-foot of swell with 18-second swell-periods coming in from a 200-degree swell-angle.

The grey trending chart shows the historical “combined wave height”…but if you mouse over the chart…say at the -12 hour mark…the rest of the graphic will change to reflect the data that was captured 12 hours earlier. This is a great way to see when a swell started to arrive, how long the initial swell periods where, and how strong it was when it started to show…all of which are good indicators of how strong a swell, and how good of a wave maker, it has the potential to be.

NOTE: There are couple of weak-points to this display…one is that if you have two swells coming in from different directions but with the same swell periods the display will average the swell direction between the two actual directions. So instead of having two swells, one from 260-degrees and the other from 200-degrees, you get one swell coming in from 230-degrees. The other weak point is that the swell is broken up into neat little sections that don’t always reflect the true nature of the swell…particularly if you have more than one swell in the water. Many times you will miss the lower-periods of the swell because they are being “averaged” in with another swell from a different direction. Again this is a good reason to use the buoys in conjunction with a forecast.

Sorry went off on a little tangent there…ok Back to using the buoys

OK here are the steps that I follow.

1. Read the forecast – at bare minimum it gives me a baseline to start working from…even if it is totally wrong (you probably got it from wetsand or something). You will know that you should be looking for something.

2. Check out the buoy map – (or if you are more experienced use the buoy summary list…

3. Drill into an applicable buoy – pick a buoy that is close to your location.

I would recommend the Harvest Buoy as a good starting point…it is the most exposed. It sits right off the tip of Point Conception and has no blockage from either the S or the NW…basically you get a clear “pure” view of the swell along the California coast.

From there I would pick a buoy close to your area.

For Santa Barbara and Ventura I would recommend the Goleta Point and Anacapa Pass buoys.

Los Angeles should focus on Santa Monica and San Pedro (which is a little more exposed to W swells).

Orange County has the Dana Point, San Pedro, and Oceanside buoys.

San Diego is lousy with buoys (I guess it helps to have Scripps right in your backyard). I would use Oceanside buoy for S swells and a mix of any of the others, like Torry Pines for WNW swells.

4. Finally just cross check the forecast for confirmation. Is that S swell showing on the right buoys? Is it making it into my beach? Does it look like Trestles or Newport will be the call this morning?

5. If things look correct (or better) then go surf…get off the computer…seriously don’t waste another minute…well unless you are going to click a few more google ads for me…uh then go ahead and spend a few more minutes.

Well that is about it…

I know that was a lot of information to process…it isn’t as complicated as it appears at first…just keep practicing and it will start to click for you. As always if you have questions let me know…I am happy to help you out, hopefully without further brain hemorrhaging.

Waves for the weekend – A little too much wind.

We are going to have some surf this weekend, and we are going to have some wind, and most of the time we are going to have both at the same time…which if you pardon the pun…sort of blows.

There will be plenty of swell in the water. We have a mix of new SSW-SW swell (195-220) that is filling in here on Friday/Saturday and will peak Saturday night into Sunday. There will also be plenty of WNW-NW windswell coming in along with the increasing local winds.

Wave heights will be in the waist-chest high range for most areas with SW and WNW exposure. Standout SW facing spots, mostly through San Diego and Southern Orange County, will have sets hitting the shoulder-high+ range on Saturday and head high+ on Sunday.

Southern Ventura County, Northern LA, and the South Bay will see a decent mix of the SW’er but will be a bit smaller overall, expect in areas where it is combing up with the local windswell.

Santa Barbara and North Orange County (mostly from HB northward), will see some solid shadowing from the nearshore islands, which will limit wave heights in those areas. Look for surf more in the knee-waist high range on average with a few bigger sets sneaking through at times.

Unfortunately winds will be the biggest problem that we have this weekend. Strong NW winds are forecast to develop over the next 24 hours and hold strong through the weekend.

On Saturday look for a semi-clean window during the dawn-patrol…winds should start off light and variable onshore and hold through mid-morning. W winds build in fast, tapping out at 10-20 knots by the afternoon.

Sunday forecasts are showing an eddy spin up…but its position and intensity are a bit suspect. I would expect S-SW winds for most of OC and SD in the morning…and more variable onshore bump for Santa Barbara down through LA. Overall shape won’t be that great even if the winds are light…mostly due to the strong leftover bump from Saturday’s winds. Afternoon winds look just as strong as Saturday’s 10-20 knots.

Your best bet for surf will be to try and find a spot with the perfect blend of protection from the wind and exposure to the swell mix. SW-facing points will probably be the best call, particularly the inside sections which may offer some protection from the winds. Also try and get on it early…it may not matter how protected a spot is once the winds start hitting 20 knots.

Also I wanted to give you guys a big thanks for the feedback on the charts…I am going to see if I can come up with something a bit cooler that will fit in more with my other nonsense that I throw up on this bloggy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Friday’s Surf – More SW swell and something bright and shiny to look at

Friday will be a surf day…but the swell is a little shadowed for a few areas and it looks a bit inconsistent even for the exposed areas.

In the water we will have a mix of slowly building SW swell (210-220) and some local NW windswell.

Most breaks will be in the knee-waist high range while the standout breaks, in San Diego, South OC, the north half of the South Bay, see some shoulder high sets. (See my cool new wave height box…is it not nifty?)

Winds look good for the morning. Mostly light and variable through the dawn patrol. Expect onshore W winds around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.

The swell slowly builds throughout the day so look for more consistent and bigger sets as we head toward sundown.

For the best surf you are going to want to stick with the exposed areas…the swell already has some shadowing problems from going through the SPAC islands but as it approaches the coast you are going to see even more (and heavier) shadowing from the nearshore islands like Catalina, San Clemente Island, and the Channel Islands. Expect longer waits between waves but fun sets when they do show.

From an overall exposure standpoint San Diego will be the best region to hunt around for some surf. The other areas will be less exposed but will still have a few playful waves at the SW facing spots.

Unfortunately I am locked down in the North OC swell shadow for the day…but I may break out my ugly-stick longboard to catch a few at lunch.

Oh hey make sure to send me some feedback if you like the wave height chart…it is sort of a pain to produce but if you guys like it I will keep posting it. Wave heights are in face size if you were wondering.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday’s Surf – Who dialed up the longboard playlist?

Thursday will be surfable but I think you are going to want to bring your small wave gear.

In the water we are going to have a mostly fading mix of WNW and SW energy. There will be a very small pulse of new SW swell starting to fill in late in the day but I don’t expect it to do much before sundown.

Wave heights are going to hold in the knee-waist high range for most areas. Standout breaks may see some lucky chest high sets on the lower tide…but even those will be on the inconsistent side.

Weather looks good with mostly light/variable to light offshore conditions in the morning. All areas see W winds around 10-12 knots by the afternoon.

No real “best” spots tomorrow…just spots that are a little better than others. I would look for the biggest surf to hold through San Diego, and at maybe a few other WNW standout areas, but none of the bigger waves will be worth driving around for. Plan on breaking out the small-wave boards…and sticking close to home so you don’t waste any of that gas, (which is now going for a holy-shit $3.73 a gallon).

I gave in to the temptation

And I am now a part of a social network (I think I may need therapy already)…

The funny thing is that I really don’t have time for it…but it is a cool way for people to connect to the Southern California Surf Forecast website so I guess I will mix it into the schedule.

Anyway if any of you are on Facebook and want to join my Southern California Surf Forecast Group…here is the link.

Please feel free to blow it up with stuff (videos, photos, random links to kittens with their heads in bottles…seriously whatever floats your boat).

Random SW Swell Alert – UPDATE! (the good and the bad)

Well I have some good news and some bad news.

First the good news…the SW swell is still in the water heading towards all the areas that I outlined in the first post (Baja, Mainland Mex, Northern Central America, Hawaii, and California). The timing is still correct and for the most part the wave heights are going to be right on…well except in one area.

That is the bad news. Southern California is going to get a pretty good dose of swell shadowing thanks to the South Pacific islands (read more about swell shadowing here).

You can see a great example of the swell shadow on last nights WavewatchIII swell period chart.

Now that I have confirmation on the shadowing I am going to revise the wave heights for Socal.

Here is the revised SoCal forecast…

Southern California – The SW swell moves in on the 20th, actually following a small playful one that hits around the 17-18th. This new SW’er (200-220) ends up peaking on the 21st and into the 22nd. Due to shadowing from the South Pacific it won’t be as big or consistent as the other regions. We can still expect the average breaks to be around knee-waist high+. Standout spots, mostly in North San Diego and Southern Orange County, will have some bigger but inconsistent shoulder high+ sets.

It is a drag to have scale down the swell for SoCal…it had some decent potential (and I was looking forward to some waves)…oh well can’t win them all.

Like I said above, the swell is still looking good for every other region so if you are traveling and need info on the sizes, swell directions, and arrival times, you can check out the original post here.

Post #1 - Random SW Swell Alert – The South Pacific is heating up!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wednesday’s Surf – A little smaller but much cleaner.

Wednesday will be a decent surf day…quite a bit better than the nasty eddy-slop we had on Tuesday.

Our swell mix of WNW wind/groundswell and S-SW energy will actually be fading out slowly but we should still have some playful sizes on the tide-push. Look for average spots to see knee-waist high+ waves. Standout breaks, mostly in San Diego, Ventura, and the South Bay, will have shoulder high sets on the lower tides.

Like I said in the title winds are looking a lot better. The eddy will still be out there but forecasts are showing it settling a little more to the SW than it is currently located. It looks like Santa Barbara, Ventura, LA, and North OC will have mostly light-variable to light offshore winds in the morning. San Diego still gets a bit of the eddy with winds coming out of the S-SE but generally staying below 5-8 knots in the morning. Expect onshore winds in the afternoon out of the NW around 10-15+ knots.

We have still got a pretty high tide rolling through right around 7-7:30am…which will keep things on the soft side early. Look for better shape and more consistent surf as it drops through mid-morning. The best size will come off the tide push as it moves past the low tide.

You should be able to find at least a few fun waves tomorrow…there will be enough leftover combo energy that all but the most protected areas will have some surf. Santa Barbara may be one of the few regions that has trouble getting surf…if you are up in that area make sure to check those more exposed beach breaks…the points/reefs may be a bit underexposed for much to show. Most areas are going to be pretty similar…there really aren’t any “best” spots for tomorrow. San Diego will be the biggest but will have some issues with the southerly winds. The other areas will be cleaner but the surf will be a touch smaller.

Really your best bet is to check the surf cams tomorrow and see what your local break looks like and if you can dig it, head down to the beach. If possible try to wait out the high tide in the morning…it will be pretty boggy most of the morning.

Random Morning Update – Tuesday is a bit fugly

So the eddy spun up last night and is anchored a bit more southward than normal. We have also see a decent bump up in WNW windswell to go along with the NW swell and the S-SW energy still in the water.

The biggest surf is showing at the best WNW combo spots, the purely S facing breaks are a bit smaller. The better exposed areas are running around waist-shoulder high with some stacked up sort of dumpy shape. The standouts mostly in San Diego, Ventura, and the South Bay are seeing sloppy head high sets.

The tide is still pretty high so try and pick a spot that likes a bit more water.

Winds are a bit screwy right now too…S-SW winds are showing through San Diego. S-SE winds are blowing through North OC, which is one of our cleanest areas this morning. The South Bay is seeing onshore W winds while North LA is more side-offshore. Ventura and Santa Barbara are seeing those lumpy N-NW winds through the area as well. Basically it isn’t very clean anywhere but North OC, but it isn’t blown out anywhere either.

Here is a little map that I threw together this morning. I basically overlaid the COAMPS on top of the CDIP wave model. It doesn’t look very clean but if you take a closer look you can see the modeled winds overlaying the swell projection…

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tuesday’s Surf – Hodgepodgey…uh yeah I am going to want to wipe that off

Tuesday will be a surf day but conditions and tides will likely hamper shape at times.

We will have a mix of new but steep NW energy (both windswell and longer-period energy) and some S-SW swell.

Average spots will be in the waist-chest high range once we get away from the high tide. Standout breaks in San Diego, Southern Ventura, and the South Bay will have shoulder high sets on the better parts of the tide swing. OC should do ok as well but most of the waves coming through will be from the S-SW rather than the NW’er. (So try to aim for the summer standouts/good combo breaks in the OC). Santa Barbara will be pretty shadowed from all of these swells so look for mostly knee-high and smaller surf through that region.

Weather is looking a bit squirrely…stronger outerwater winds are threatening to spin up the eddy so be on the lookout. As of right now I don’t think that it will be to bad tomorrow morning. Orange County and San Diego County will have a bit of S-SE wind in the morning while Santa Barbara, Ventura, and LA all see variable onshore texture early. All spots see W winds around 10-15 knots develop through the afternoon.

Personally I think that finding great conditions/shape/size tomorrow is going to be difficult. You are going to have to compromise a bit…generally sacrificing size for shape. The tide is going to be a bit high in the morning, which will also add to the general mess of things. I think your best bet is to wait until we get close to the low tide mid-morning and hope that the winds don’t jump on it too hard. If you shoot for the 9-10am timeframe you just might get lucky.

Check out this photo…you can see the eddy starting slightly over the nearshore islands (where the arrows are slowly swinging back to facing the NE).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Monday’s Surf – A little more size

Man how sweet was the weather along the coast this weekend? (It probably sucked inland…but hey at least it was a dry heat).

Monday will be a surf day…not a huge surf day but still pretty fun at times.

In the water we will have a mix of S-SW swell (180-210), local WNW windswell, and some new WNW energy (290-300).

Most spots will be in the waist-chest high range. Standout breaks, mostly the good SW facing spots, and more exposed combo breaks will be closer to shoulder high on the sets…maybe even a touch bigger on the tide push.

Winds will be light and variable in the morning with some building NW flow around 10-12 knots by the afternoon.

Looks like the best surf will be in the San Diego and Orange County areas…mostly due to the SW swell in the mix and that they have a little more exposure to the W energy. The northern South Bay, and Southern Ventura should be ok as well but not as consistent in the morning, they should get a bit better in the afternoon as the new WNW swell fills in more. Expect the surf to be similar to Sunday…maybe a bit more consistent at the standouts…and a touch less tide-drained during the dawn patrol.

I think it will be worth checking in the morning…expect to sit around a little bit between sets at times. If you have all day to surf then I would probably check it early…surf if it is good…then maybe get some bacon McMuffin’s (hmmmm)…then surf again after the low tide starts to push back in. (Please note that if you get to do this I will hate you forever…seriously for-ev-er!).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Random SW Swell Alert – The South Pacific is heating up!

We have a new storm setting up an overhead+ SW swell for Baja, Mainland Mexico, and Northern Central America. (After it smacks Tahiti along the way naturally). The same storm will be sending a smaller, but still healthy, version of the SW swell to Hawaii and California.

(if you just want the swell details…skip this next part…seriously if you don’t you will just get pissed at my rambling)

After a couple week hiatus it looks like the South Pacific is finally starting to get its act together. It has been a slow couple of weeks so it will be nice to have some more juice showing out in the line-up. This last gap between storms (translation total lack of significant Southern Hemi swell) that we have just had is actually fairly normal for the SPAC.

When you look at the big picture you start to see that most of the storm/wind/wave energy in the Southern Ocean (the band of ocean that circulates around Antarctica) moves in a west-to-east pattern…forecasters generally refer to this a “zonal flow”. Unfortunately we need a storm that breaks out of the zonal pattern, trying to change its latitude, and in the process sets up fetch that is aimed toward our regions. This happens quite a bit but not always in a location that is ideal for sending us surf (like on the other side of Australia, or up next to South America).

A sort of dumb analogy for the process is to picture the South Pacific as a pot of boiling water with the storms being the bubbles that boil to the surface…but only way cooler because when a bubble forms in the right spot it sends us a good swell.

Anyway there are a couple of triggers that cause these “bubble” storms to form…and they almost always involve some sort of energy transfer from a warm-weather area to a cold-weather area. A particularly violent example of this is when you get warm tropical moisture that moves into the cooler upper-latitudes. This process is generally called a tropical based storm (or air-mass) going “extra-tropical”. I could totally bore you with the physics behind latent-heat energy in water…but then my brain would hurt all weekend…so just trust me when I say that there is a lot of energy in tropical moisture…and as the air-mass carrying it cools that energy needs to go somewhere. And it does…usually in the form of strong winds in a bad-ass storm.

I can already hear you out there…”gee Adam that is great but tell us about the swell already weather-nerd!”

Hahaha…jerks. I actually wanted to bring the process to your attention because it is just this “extra-tropical” process that is setting up this next swell.

Here I made a cool chart!

On the chart you can actually see two low-pressures. One is a tropical system and the other a colder mid-latitude low. If you follow the numbers you see the tropical system take a slow dive towards Antarctica…and in the process it expels a ton of energy as it cools. This energy tries to spread out but instead is gathered in by the following storm system.

By slide #5 the cold storm, which is moving in a great direction for all of our surf spots, has jumped in intensity, likely it would have had about 30-40 knots of wind in the core but now, thanks to being jumpstarted by the extra-tropical system, it is seeing winds closer to 60-65 knots (which is the lower end of the wind speeds in the CAT1 Hurricane category). Basically the storm has jumped from being an average to below average swell maker to a good-swell producer.

To cap it off the cold storm continues to push the good area of fetch into the lower latitudes and sort of seals the deal on the swell energy heading towards Mainland Mexico. Anyway…just thought I would share some of the mechanics behind this next swell.

OK Finally the swell details (the hungover may continue reading now)

Mainland Mexico and Northern Central America – There is actually plenty of smaller swells sending in surf to this region right now. So if you are down there or planning on going down there you will have some fun-sized overhead surf while you are waiting for the bigger SW’er to arrive. This swell that I was just talking about will actually start to arrive with long-period energy on the 19th and then peak on the 20-21st. Most breaks will build into the shoulder-overhead+ range with sets going 2-3’ overhead+ at times. Deepwater breaks will be closer to double-overhead on the big sets.

Baja Sur Mexico – The SW swell (210-220) is actually pretty westerly in swell angle so it hits Baja Sur about the same time it moves into Mainland Mex. Most pacific side spots will see this swell start to hit later on the 19th…but it really fills in more on the 20th and eventually peaks into the 21st. Look for lots of shoulder-head high waves at the well exposed areas. Standout spots will have some bigger sets...but expect some inconsistency at times.

Southern California – The SW swell moves in on the 20th, actually following a small playful one that hits around the 17-18th. This new bigger SW’er (200-220) ends up peaking on the 21st and into the 22nd. Due to a little shadowing from the South Pacific it won’t be as big or consistent as the other regions. We can still expect the average breaks to be around waist-shoulder high. Standout spots, mostly in North San Diego and Southern Orange County, will have some bigger head high+ sets at times. NOTE: The forecast for SOCAL has be REVISED...please see this post for the more current details.

Hawaii – There is a good portion of fetch heading toward the islands…so we will actually see decent sized S swell arrive on the South Shores around the 16th…and eventually peaking on the 17-18th. This one looks good for shoulder-overhead faces with sets going 1-2’+ overhead as the swell peaks at the top breaks.

As usual I will give some updates on this swell as it gets closer…particularly if size or timing needs adjusting…so check back for more details.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekend’s Waves – Good weather and slowly building surf

There will be some really nice weather this weekend and a little bit of building surf to go along with it.

We will start to see a slowly building S-SW swell mix with leftover WNW windswell on Saturday.

It will start pretty small in the morning with most spots around knee high and smaller…a few of the best Orange County and San Diego surf spots (the S-facing ones and the combo breaks) will have some waist high+ sets. We can expect sort of low-tide drained shape through most of the morning…but things should improve as we move past the bottom of the low.

Sunday the S-SW swell will fill in more. Exposed areas will be in the waist high+ range while the best spots, again in OC and SD, see some chest-shoulder high sets. It will be inconsistent on the bigger waves, and the tide will continue to hamper it at times, but you should be able to at least get out and grab a couple of playful ones.

The weather is supposed to be pretty warm along the beach…mid-70’s at least. Inland it is supposed to blaze…so expect a bit more of a crowd along the beach. The water ain’t warm yet so make sure to pack your wetsuit.

Winds should be light and variable to light-offshore in the morning…and just light onshore in the afternoons. There may even be a bit of a glass-off waaay late in the day (worth keeping an eye on at least).

Personally I think the best time to paddle out will be right after the low tide starts to fill back in. The tide push will help out with both size and consistency…and probably shape as well. S facing beach breaks will be your best bet if you are looking for bigger waves…OC has got a bunch of these, so does North San Diego…it probably won’t be worth driving too far for it though…so if you have a closer beach, and it has a few little waves, you might as well paddle out there.

Have a great weekend! But make sure to check back…there is a decent looking storm in the South Pacific that is brewing up right now…I will put together a post on it over the next day or so.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Friday’s Surf – On the small side

Friday isn’t going to be much of a surf day. It will be clean and small as we pick up a mostly leftover mix of swell.

In the water we are going to have combo of quickly fading NW windswell and some background longer-period WNW/SW swell.

Expect most breaks to be around knee high with some waist high sets. The best exposed areas in San Diego, parts of OC, and the LA South Bay will see some chest high sets.

Winds and weather look ok as well…mostly light and variable winds in the morning and light onshore out of the W around 10 knots for the afternoon.

There will be a draining tide in the morning, heading to a -.3 low around 9am, that may cause some issues with our surf shape. Look for a lot of small but dumpy and shallow windswell lines at exposed areas…with just a touch of cross-up from the SW.

I think your best bet for surf will actually be after the tide bottoms out. If you can hold off, try and head out around 9am…the tide push should add a bit of size and consistency to the surf.

Just a note on the weekend… there is not much going on out there right now so it looks like we will have a slow weekend…small but playful. Thought you might like to know that we are all going to need to dust off the longboards…or the sand castle making toys. Things will likely be picking up next week.

More shark attack stuff…(man can’t we all just get along?)

So my friend over at the OCRegister emailed me this story this morning…and no it is not another HB shark attack…it actually happened out in Fiji.

Basically a local Fijian fisherman was attacked by three sharks as he was fishing near a more obscure surf spot (IE Not Tavaraua). According to the article and the photos the sharks tore up his arm pretty badly and he was in danger of bleeding out before he could get medical help.

Fortunately for the fisherman there was a surfer, Tom Rolfes, who happened to be a dentist, visiting the island with his family. The Doc sacked up, broke out his emergency kit, and managed to sew the fisherman back together enough to save his life.

I thought I would give a shout out to the Doctor and his family for pulling off some high-pressure heroics.

Here is a picture of the Dr. Rolfes in action.

And here is a link to the story…make sure to check it out (Laylan does a much better job of telling it than I can).

I am just stoked that the Dr. was able to save the guy’s life, MacGyver style….and still managed to sneak a surf photo into the OCreg’s slide show. Classic.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Now with even more bloggy forecasts!

Hey guys I have decided to add in a couple of extra forecast regions that I will cover throughout the week. They will have their own pages so I don’t pollute the pristine nature of the SoCal Forecast (translation: so it doesn’t get so cluttered that we can’t find anything)

So effective today I have started posting new forecasts for Baja Sur and Northern California.

You can find them here

Baja Sur

Northern California

And they are also on the side navigation ---->

Make sure to share these with your buddies that may live or surf these

**Before you ask what about Baja Norte? Right now I think that you can get a good read on Baja Norte from the SoCal forecast…the swell angles and timing are pretty much the same. I may add it in the future.

Thursday’s Surf – Cleaner and a bit smaller

Thursday is looking like a surf day. I don’t think it will be great but it will definitely be better than we have had over the last couple of days.

We will have a mix of fading WNW windswell, a bit of WNW energy, and some background S-SW pulses.
Average breaks will hold around knee-chest high while the standout combo spots, and really good windswell breaks, see some chest-shoulder high waves on the tide push.

Winds are forecast to be much better tomorrow. Look for light and variable morning winds for most areas along with clean conditions. Afternoon winds are expected to be light as well…coming onshore out of the W around 10 knots.

I think tomorrow will be a good day to get back into the water. Like I said above I don’t think that it will be that great, there will probably be some lumpy shape to the more exposed areas thanks to the leftover windswell but winds will be light and the lower morning tide may iron out some of the bump. I would probably stick with your small wave boards…unless you live close to a super dumpy windswell spot…there probably won’t be a ton of juice behind the surf.

Random Morning Update: Wednesday at 6:30am

Onshore winds are building across SoCal this morning and it is looking pretty junky for most spots.

There are a couple of weird pockets of cleanliness that are holding on this morning…they aren’t really that good looking surfwise but they have less wind than other areas.

The Malibu area is ok…it is seeing a little protection from Point Dume and the nearby hills this morning. There is not much surf there but it is probably longboardable if you are desperate.

North OC is also seeing a little bubble of wind protection from Palos Verdes…it isn’t going to last long…and the surf isn’t looking great…but it has less wind than other areas. Waves are running around chest-head high in HB and a little smaller through Newport…but it still looks like sloppy stacked up windswell despite the lack of winds. I expect this area to blow out pretty fast but if you are close you might be able to ride a couple of OK sections near the HB pier or the Newport jetties.

Expect stronger W winds around 10-25 knots this afternoon...looks like it is going to get pretty sloppy by the end of the day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wednesday's Wind…uh I mean surf.

Wednesday is looking pretty windy. You might be able to surf at a very, very protected break but even those are looking suspect.

We will have a mix of NW swell, building W windswell, and some background SW swell. Most W facing breaks will see waist-shoulder high surf. Standout W facing breaks in San Diego, the LA South Bay, and Ventura will go head high and bigger but shape is going to be pretty wrecked.

Windwise we can expect W winds around 10-20 knots through the morning and gusts reaching 25 knots by the afternoon. It is looking pretty blown out at this point.

Personally I am not going to worry about trying to surf tomorrow…even the spots that might be rideable won’t be very good and the thought of a lot of wind is already making my surfer’s ear ache. I think we should all stay home in the morning and click the ads on my blog…ha…yeah that sounds fun.
Check back I will probably throw up a quick morning update…particularly if I see a little nugget worth surfing in the morning.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tuesday’s Surf – Morning fun…afternoon winds

Tuesday is looking surfable…at least in the morning.

So there will be some surf on Tuesday…we will have a mix of WNW energy (mostly local windswell and a bit of long-period NW energy from 290+) and some S-SW swell that is holding in the background.

Most spots will be around knee-chest high. Standout breaks, mostly in San Diego, Ventura, parts of Orange County, and the South Bay will have some shoulder high sets in the morning.

Conditions in the morning should be OK…there is supposed to be an eddy keeping the winds light along the coast…maybe a touch of SW for San Diego and a bit of N-NW for Santa Barbara but lighter in Ventura, LA, and the OC. The tide will be a bit of an issue in the middle of the day but we should have a decent tide push for the dawn patrol. Strong onshore winds are expected by the afternoon…maybe even a few showers for the northern areas.

For the most part I think we can all get out and pick off a few fun ones Tuesday morning…about the only thing that I am a little worried about is the wind. We are going to be pretty dependent on the eddy to shut down the onshore winds…or at least lesson the effect enough to give us rideable surf. So a lot is going to depend on exactly where the eddy decides to anchor itself.

Personally I am going to wake up and check the cameras in the morning, maybe wait for a couple of text messages from my dawn patrol buddies before totally committing to a surf session (can you say lazy…hahahaha). Another good resource is the COAMPS Southern California Wind Analysis…the post an update around 5am, which is close enough to sunrise to still be applicable. Here is a shot of this mornings update…you can see the strong winds in the outer waters and then variable winds (set up by the eddy) close to shore.

Here is the link if you want to check it out live tomorrow!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Monday’s Surf – Sleep in…

Monday is not looking like much of a surf day.

Our swell mix of S-SW swell and WNW energy will be backing off…and the NW windswell is slipping past us due to its steep swell angle.

Wave heights on average will be around knee-waist high for most spots with exposure to at least one of the swells. Standout combo breaks, mostly through San Diego, will have a few chest high sets on the lower tides.

The wind is what is really going to put the nail in the coffin so to speak…the outer water NW winds are expected to stay strong overnight and continue to spin up the SoCal eddy as we head into Monday (in fact the eddy is forecast to stick around most of the week, which pretty much blows…uh so to speak). So for Monday morning we can expect S-SW winds for most of Orange County and San Diego and NW-WNW winds for most of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Northern LA.

If you have to surf on Monday…make sure to bring your small wave gear and try and stick to spots that are protected from whatever winds that your region will have. I think the best surf will be in spots like the northern South Bay, around central Orange County, and down at select spots in La Jolla in San Diego. Those areas will be cleaner, than most but will still have the potential to pick up at least a few waves from the swell mix.

Surf Break Maps: Malibu Point, Malibu, Los Angeles County, California

Malibu Point is another one of Southern California’s best waves…and even though it has been cheesed out again and again by Hollywood…it still manages to captivate most surfers (except maybe the guys that have to battle it in the Malibu line-up day in and day out just to catch a few waves outside of work). Even though it is a total fantasy, many surfers would probably pay an arm and a leg at the thought of getting a pumping, uncrowded, S swell at the ‘bu.

Malibu is a point that is situated about halfway between Point Dume (to the west) and Santa Monica (to the east). Thanks to the path of the Coast Highway it is pretty easy to find…you basically get a great view of it from the highway as you pass the Malibu pier. Well when you can see past all the movie stars…and giant freaking mansions.

The Malibu Point area is actually made up of a couple of State Parks. To the west you have Malibu Lagoon State Park and to the east you have Surfrider State Beach. There are parking lots in either of the state parks but it is generally easier to get to the break if you park in the Surfrider lot.

The wave at Malibu is usually broken up into 3 sections named First Point, Second Point, and (you guessed it) Third Point. On average swells the wave doesn’t quite connect from point to point so the crowd gets spread out through these sections.

Third Point is the actual start of the Malibu wave…the swell wraps into the top of the point and the cobblestones that anchor the break act as a mix of point and reef break. The take-off at Third is a little loosely defined so, depending on the swell/tide/wind, you can shift around sometimes dropping in deeper towards the top of the point or down the line as the wave gets closer to second point.

Second Point is sort of weird mix of a wave…it is basically a section that breaks along part of the point that doesn’t swing smoothly back towards the pier…it actually has a little bit of a bulge that causes it to section a bit faster than the other points. Second Point is much shorter than First or Third but it can get hollow and fast on the right types of swells.

First Point is the final inside section that connects in toward Surfrider beach and the Malibu Pier. The First point section has a very smooth transition and a more natural angle to the shoreline as it hooks back into the bay. It also gets a bit more sand moving out of the Malibu Lagoon…this sand has a tendency to fill in some of the imperfections of the cobbles and smoothes out the wave. First point is generally a longboard spot…particularly when there isn’t a ton of swell in the water. For a longboard wave it is pretty darn good…it sort of looks like it was churned out of a machine…each wave almost the same as the next one.

Getting good surf at Malibu
Despite having a decent swell window Malibu isn’t always that consistent. It takes a lot of juice to force a swell between all the nearshore islands and its exposure to winter energy isn’t that great. You tend to see some sort of wave breaking if you have some S swell in the water, but as it gets smaller most of the rideable surf seems to shift over to first point making an already crowded spot even more crowded.

Here is a map that highlights the open swell windows for Malibu. Make sure to note that the windows are a little broken up with some decent shadowing from a lot of the nearshore islands.

While it breaks on a number of swell directions, sizes, and swell periods…the best swells for Malibu are the big S and SW swells. Those swells have a mostly clear shot through the islands and the S-facing nature of the Malibu Point means that the swell has spend less time refracting its energy around the point to reach the inside sections. Generally it likes long-period energy but as the swell starts to get into the 14-15 second range (and is still showing some decent size) it gets easier for the wave to connect through the three points. You definitely need a big swell for Malibu to start connecting but when it finally does, and you catch a wave from Third through First it will blow your mind…well unless you don’t get burned by 10 guys along the way.

Malibu can pull in a W swell or even a large longer-period WNW…you get some wrap from the channel islands that sort of pulls it around into the Point Dume area, which refracts the swell again in toward Malibu. The more W-WSW a swell gets the bigger it will be at the ‘bu due to the more open swell window. Generally I consider Malibu to be a good spot to check on the bigger W-WNW swells…it will be quite a bit smaller than the W facing beaches but if the period is right it can be fun…it also has bit more protection from the NW winds so it will stay surfable even when it gets too breezy for other, more exposed, breaks.

One last thing on swells…there is a bit of swell shadowing from Cortes Bank…it generally affects the SW swells but the interference is actually on the intermittent side. We actually only see heavy blockage from Cortes when you have both a decent NW windswell and a SW swell in the water at the same time. This seems sort of counter-intuitive because normally swells shouldn’t really affect one another that much (and they generally don’t in open water) but it seems like the combo of shallower water, short-stacked up swell periods from the NW, erode a lot of the long-period SW energy away…effectively blocking it from reaching up into the Santa Monica-Malibu area. This is one of the reasons why you might get skunked on a SW swell…Trestles and Oceanside could be pumping with overhead surf but Malibu might be around waist high. It is frustrating but if you keep in mind the windswell you can plan around it.

Yeah it is freaking crowded…and even more so on big swells. Plan on getting burned, yelled at, and hassled…then when you aren’t you can be pleasantly surprised.

Here is a funny video of the crowds

Spot details:
Best swell direction:
S-W swells (180-270)…but it can take a WNW up to (285) and a SE from around (155-160) as well and still be pretty fun.
Best Wind: moderate N-NE
Sea Floor: Mostly cobblestones with some sand filling in the cracks around First Point.
Best Season: Summer, Hurricane Season
Crowds: Hell yes