Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monday’s Surf – a slow pickup but still funky

Monday will see a slow increase in wave heights but it still won’t be big enough or consistent enough to really be a surf day.

We are going to have a mix of small S-SSW swell (180-190), some inconsistent SW swell (210-220), and some local NW windswell.

Most spots will be around knee-high+ off the mix of S swell and windswell. The top S facing breaks will see more consistent waist high+ sets…and maybe a rare chest high+ plus wave…on the lower tides. Really though it is going to feel pretty small, mostly gutless, and inconsistent…all of which is going to make for sucky surf.

Winds are going to be sort of blah…there will be some slight eddy circulation early, which means mild onshore flow out of the SW. It will be cleaner through areas that have high cliffs, lots of kelp, or some sort of structure to block the wind. Expect winds to shift to more W-SW flow by midday and then turn more WNW 10-14 knots by the afternoon.

Personally I don’t think that Monday’s surf is looking all that fun…the mix of conditions and swell aren’t really going to click…and there just isn’t enough swell to power through the texture and the higher morning tide. If you have the day off, or just have to surf…I would recommend bringing the small wave gear…longboards will probably be the most fun. Look for the biggest surf through the combo spots of San Diego, but even at those breaks it won’t be worth driving very far.

Here are the tides…

04:58AM LDT 3.6 H
11:10AM LDT 0.8 L
05:50PM LDT 5.1 H

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Random Surf Report - Saturday Morning - Stay in bed

Just giving the cameras/buoys/wind-stations a quick check this morning.

Not only is the surf small but we also have some light WNW winds creeping through the region. Check it out.

So we have micro surf with an onshore crumble. It sounds like a good day to go back and surf my pillow for a while followed by my lucky charms and Saturday morning cartoons.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Waves for the weekend – Small on Saturday with a slow pick up on Sunday

The weekend isn’t looking all that great for waves...but Sunday is definitely going to be a better surf day than Saturday.

On Saturday we are going to continue to see a small leftover mix of SW/WNW micro-swells. Most spots will continue to slog through ankle-knee high waves while a few of the better top spots, mostly in San Diego, see some semi-consistent waist high sets.

Sunday we will start to see an increase in both S-SW swell (180-210+220 from a couple of different storms moving through the SPAC swell window), and some minor WNW swell/windswell mix. The average spots will boost into the knee-waist high+ range with some chest high sets near the end of the day. The Standout SW facing spots, again mostly in SD/South OC, and good combo breaks will be more consistently knee-chest high with some inconsistent shoulder high sets through the afternoon. Check out the sideways can see the lighter blue starting to creep in around the edges on the 31st.

Winds will be ok...we will have this weak eddy flow still swirling around so there may be some pockets of texture at a few of the more exposed areas. Mostly we can expect light and variable winds through the morning with W-NW flow around 10-13 knots building onshore by the afternoon.

I think that we are going to be stuck with the small wave gear for most of the weekend...especially if you don’t live close to one of the top breaks. Expect mostly small, inconsistent surf...with some occasional semi-playful sets. The lower tides will have some better shape but I still think that you need to combine it with a good sandbar or a shallow reef to get more out of the weak surf. Don’t expect a ton of new waves early on will start off pretty slow...but look for more waves as we move through the day.

Here are tides...have a great weekend!

02:04AM LDT 4.5 H
09:23AM LDT -0.1 L
04:18PM LDT 4.3 H
10:11PM LDT 2.0 L

03:28AM LDT 3.9 H
10:18AM LDT 0.4 L
05:07PM LDT 4.7 H
11:36PM LDT 1.4 L

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Friday’s surf – More smallish waves...but at least it is Friday.

Friday will be another day with decent conditions but small surf.

It won’t be totally flat...but expect to wait around for rideable waves even at the top breaks.

We are going to have a micro-mix of S-SW leftovers and some weak WNW energy (mostly local windswell).

This picture of the swell model is so boring that it makes me want to take a nap.

Wave heights are going to hold around ankle-knee high+ at most of the average exposed breaks. The standout S-SW facing spots, with good shallow sandbars (or reefs) will be in the knee-waist high range on sets...and there may be even a rare bigger set sneaking through on the tide swing.

Winds look good...mostly light and variable through the morning with overcast skies. W winds around 10-14 knots and clearing skies will push through during the afternoon.

Like the last couple of days it won’t be worth driving very far to look for if you find a peak close to home it would be good to jump on it before the building tide swamps it out. Small wave gear will still be the most fun...and if you can you might want to try and surf around the drain-out lower tide that hits mid morning.

Here are the tides...happy Friday!

12:52AM LDT 5.2 H
08:27AM LDT -0.6 L
03:21PM LDT 3.9 H
08:33PM LDT 2.4 L

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Surf on Thursday – a few more small ones

Thursday won’t really be a surf day but there will be a few rideable lines that sneak through every once in a while.

We are going to have a mix of fading/background S-SW swell and a bit of local windswell.

Most of the average spots will continue to see surf around knee high with a few rare knee-high+ sets. The standout S-SW facing breaks (with good sandbars or reefs) will be more consistently around waist high on the sets.

Winds will be similar to the last few days...light and variable, with overcast skies, through the morning. Afternoon winds come onshore out of the WNW-NW around 10-14 knots.

There aren’t really any best bets for I said it won’t be totally flat, but it will be pretty small and not all that consistent, which doesn’t really help things...the S-SW facing spots will be slightly better but not much of an improvement over the other areas. I would stick to the small wave gear and try to avoid the extremely low tide that rolls through early in the morning.

Here are the tides...

07:30AM LDT -1.0 L
02:20PM LDT 3.7 H
07:01PM LDT 2.4 L

Long-Range Outlook – Because talking about small waves really sucks

I have been looking over the long-range charts and I have some good news and some bad news.

First the Bad News...this run of small surf (that is hitting right now) is going to continue for the next few days. I know it hasn’t been completely flat...but it certainly hasn’t been all that fun. We can expect small ankle-knee high+ waves at the average spots to continue through at least Saturday (May 30th)...and probably Sunday as well.

The Good News is that the South Pacific has started to pick up some steam again. The high-pressure that had been putting the hurt on the SPAC storm track has finally started to break down and move out towards Chile. The high actually started to erode several days ago but it took a little while to get some favorable fetch to develop in our swell window.

As of this afternoon we have a few new, but somewhat small, pulses of S-SW swell heading our way. Check it out...

The first swell is a mini-S swell (180-190) that will be arriving slowly through the day on May 31st...but shows a little better by June 1st. This little guy looks good for more consistent knee-waist high surf at the average spots and maybe a few waist high+ sets at the top spots. Nothing to get excited about but better than completely flat surf.

That first pulse will be followed by a slightly bigger SW’er (200-220) that comes in on June 2nd and holds through the 3rd. This one is a little bigger...but it has a more westerly angle...which means that North LA, South OC, and San Diego will be a little more exposed (while North OC is more shadowed). The average spots will be more consistently around waist high with this one while the standout SW facing spots, particularly the combo breaks that get a little windswell, will be waist-chest high with a couple of rare plus sets.

The third swell is another SW’er (195-215) that is bigger than the previous swells...and looks like it should be fun at the exposed spots. The current satellites are showing some decent wind speeds (40-45+ knots) in the key areas of fetch...and you can see that the WavewatchIII model is predicting some longer swell-periods. This swell will arrive slowly on June 4th and likely peak on the 5-6th before fading. At this point the swell looks good for chest high surf at most of the exposed areas with some shoulder high+ sets at the standouts.

Further out...there is even more storm activity forecasted to push through that same part of the swell window over by New Zealand...and while it still has a few days to form it has been a pretty consistent feature on the forecast charts which is nice. If this storm can live up to forecasts we should see another pulse of SW swell (210-220) hitting our area around the 12-13th.

Just to be clear...none of these swells are particularly noteworthy...I wouldn’t get to fired up over any of the ones that are already in the water heading our way. I was getting sick of telling you how flat it is going to be over the next few days...hopefully this gives us a little to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Waves for Wednesday – a few small ones

Wednesday will have a few rideable waves but there isn’t really enough swell to call it a surf day.

We will have a mix of SW swell (200-220), some leftover S-SSW swell (180-200), and some weak NW windswell.

Most spots will be around knee-knee high+...with a few bigger sets on the lower morning tide. The standout spots (and I use the term loosely) will have some waist high+ sets. The best shape will be as we move off the negative low tide in the morning. Look for a little bigger surf through Orange County and San Diego thanks to a little more exposure to the swell mix.

Winds look good...mostly light and variable to light offshore through the morning. NW winds around 10-12 knots will move in through the afternoon.

Like I said there will be a few rideable waves sneaking through in the morning but mostly it is going to be small and kind of gutless at the average spots. Your best bet is going to be at the better combo beach breaks, particularly spots that have some good sandbars. I think that a bigger board (or at least something that works well in small surf) will probably be the most fun.

Here are the tides...

06:36AM LDT -1.3 L
01:17PM LDT 3.6 H
05:46PM LDT 2.3 L
11:50PM LDT 5.9 H

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tuesday’s Surf - Nothing new

(Holy late forecast Batman!) Tuesday will be rideable but it won’t really be a surf day.

Our swell will be surfable…but it isn’t going to be great, or even all that consistent. Basically we can expect a mix of small, soft peaks and decent morning winds that will at least keep it fun enough to paddle out and catch a few…but not enough that we should commit too much time to it.

Swellwise we are going to have fading S-SSW swell and a background mix of WNW-NW windswell and some weak SW swell.

Most spots will be in the knee-waist high range while the standout SW facing spots and the top combo breaks see some chest high+ sets…maybe even a rare shoulder high face on the lower tides. San Diego and Orange County will see the biggest sizes just because they are a little more exposed to the swell mix…but expect a few playful waves almost everywhere.

Winds look good…mostly light and variable in the morning with a touch of S-SE flow at a few of the more exposed areas. Winds will look something like this for the dawn patrol…

Again I would stick to your small-wave boards and gear…the surf is going to be pretty soft with long waits between sets…you are going to want a board that can pick off the in-betweeners just so you can stave off the boredom a little bit longer. The tide is going to be super low in the morning, so you are going to want to plan around that as well.

Here are the tides….

05:34AM LDT -1.6 L
12:15PM LDT 3.6 H
04:42PM LDT 2.1 L
11:05PM LDT 6.3 H

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Surf – Fun, soft, and slowly fading

Monday will be a surf day…nothing great overall but fun when the sets come through.

We are going to have a mix of fading S-SSW swell (180-200) and some background WNW/SW energy.

Most spots will be in the knee-waist high range with some inconsistent chest high sets at spots with a little more exposure to the S swell. The Standout S facing spots, mostly through Orange County and Northern San Diego, will have surf in the waist-chest high range fairly consistently…but with some shoulder high sets mixing in at times.

Winds look good, they will be very similar to what we have seen over the last few days. Overcast, grey skies and light/variable winds through the morning. Skies clear out and W winds build onshore around 10-12 knots by the afternoon.

Your best bet is just hunting around your local spots…it is a holiday and most of the top breaks are going to be weekend-crowded…so with the crowd and the soft/inconsistent swell mix we have out there it won’t be worth driving around a ton. Personally I am going to just stick close to home and hunt out a private little sandbar somewhere…and then fire up the bbq (and the coors light) in the afternoon as the sunshine and the wind picks up.

Have a good one…here are the tides!

04:54AM LDT -1.5 L
11:22AM LDT 3.6 H
03:55PM LDT 2.0 L
10:07PM LDT 6.5 H

Friday, May 22, 2009

Waves for the Weekend – Playful swell mix

There will be some waves this won’t be huge...or that consistent...but it will be more rideable than the last few days.

We are going to see a mix of S swell (180-200) that will peak through Saturday and then start to slowly fade through Sunday and Monday. In the background we are going to see a mix of WNW-NW windswell and a tiny bit of SW swell. It looks like the windswell will build in a bit more by the end of the weekend. Check out the sideways is nice not to see so much dark blue.

Wave heights are going to average around waist-chest high for most areas. The standout S facing spots and good combo breaks will have some shoulder high sets. (between you and me...I didn’t really like the storm that sent this S swell, so I am staying on the conservative side with my wave heights...I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see some bigger sets mixing in on the lower tides...but I wouldn’t count on them either).

Winds look good for the next couple of mornings. Overcast skies and light and variable conditions for most areas. W winds will build in through the afternoons topping out around 10-14 knots. Check out the wind models...

Saturday @ 8am

Sunday @ 8am

With it being a holiday weekend, and there being some swell after a few days of flatness...there is going to be a lot of frustrated line-ups out there. Really I think your best bet is to find a playful peak close to home...and try and get some surf early in the day before the winds/tide/crowds start to kill the fun-factor. I would also keep an eye on the tides...even though they aren’t super high/low the surf has been pretty sensitive to the swing...try and plan around it if you can.

Here are the tides...Have a great memorial day! (Also I want to send out a huge thanks to all of our servicemen and servicewomen...I hope you stay safe where ever you are).

I should post a new forecast for Memorial Day on Sunday...but I probably will be drinking which sort of makes it an iffy proposition. Have a good one gang!

03:23AM LDT -1.1 L
09:39AM LDT 3.6 H
02:29PM LDT 1.7 L
08:40PM LDT 6.4 H

04:07AM LDT -1.3 L
10:30AM LDT 3.6 H
03:10PM LDT 1.8 L
09:22PM LDT 6.5 H

Memorial Day
04:54AM LDT -1.5 L
11:22AM LDT 3.6 H
03:55PM LDT 2.0 L
10:07PM LDT 6.5 H

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Surf for Friday – Picking up

Friday will be a marginal surf day...conditions will be good but there still won’t be a lot of swell in the water, particularly through the morning.

On Friday we will have a new S-SSW swell (180-200) that will slowly fill in throughout the day, (eventually peaking on Saturday). NW windswell from our local waters will filter in through the background. Look the dark blue is slowly starting to go away!

Surfwise we can expect waves in the knee-waist high range at the average spots that have some exposure to the S-SSW swell direction. The top spots, mostly through Orange County and San Diego (where there is a bit more combo in the swell), will be in the waist-chest high range. I do expect a few bigger waves coming through by later in the afternoon...we should see a few shoulder high sets at the top spots by sundown.

Winds will be light and variable for most areas through the morning. SD and OC may have some slight S flow at times but in general it will be clean throughout SoCal. WNW-NW winds around 10-14 knots will fill in through the afternoon.

Don’t expect a ton from this new swell early on Friday morning...there won’t be much energy showing through the dawn patrol and we will also be pushing towards a higher tide that peaks around 8:45am...both of which will keep things a bit slow and inconsistent. With that being said I do think that you should at least do a camera check in the morning...the conditions will be clean and there is some swell in the water, so while it won’t be big, there is still a chance at catching a few.

Oh one last note...looks like the tropics are starting to get a little frisky...we have our first halfway decent tropical wave/disturbance of the season starting to push around south of the tip of Baja. Forecasts aren’t showing it developing much (it hits cooler water and wind shear) but it is nice to see some activity down there.

Here are the tides...

02:41AM LDT -0.5 L
08:49AM LDT 3.6 H
01:50PM LDT 1.5 L
08:02PM LDT 6.0 H

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thursday’s Flatness – the micro surf continues

Thursday won’t be a surf day.

Lack of swell and higher morning tides is going to keep the surf pretty darn small tomorrow.

Expect lots of ankle high waves with some rare knee high+ sets at the standout combo breaks, mostly through San Diego (because it is more exposed to the steeper, but still small, NW windswell).

There will be a bit of new S-SW swell starting to slowly filter in waaaaay late in the day…but between the building wind bump and general afternoon funk…I don’t think we are going to see much on the beach.

Friday and Saturday look a little bit better as a small, but bigger than we have now, S-SSW swell starts to arrive. Looks like at least some waist-chest high sets (and maybe a little bigger) as we head into the holiday weekend. Man I don’t think I could have taken a completely flat 3-day weekend.

Here are the tides…oh wait it is going to be flat…nevermind I will make sure to put them in tomorrows forecast…stupid ocean.

In the meantime what do you guys think about a Point Break 2 being made…I have to admit the premise sounds awesome. (and by awesome I mean spectacularly bad)

Plot: When Billy Dalton, military special ops and star surfer, is disqualified from the pro-surfing tour, he takes off for the coast of Bali looking for the perfect wave. While there he's recruited by a private security force who are trying to find a gang known as The Bush Administration, surfing outlaws and modern day pirates who work like "The Ex-Presidents," a bank robbing crew from Malibu twenty years ago.

Walshe-Howling will play the bad guy, a sea-pirate named Dali. He and his team wear masks of The Bush Administration (George Bush, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, etc) as they rob boats. Dali's sister, Teela, ends up falling in love with Dalton, an undercover Fed working in Dali's gang, which complicates matters.

Source -

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Flatness for Wednesday – another day on Lake Pacific

Wednesday is not going to be a surf day.

There might be a few longboard sets on the lower tides...but for the most part there isn’t going to be much surf.

Swellwise there is just a bit of leftover S-SW mix and some very small WNW windswell...both are very small and when the tide has filled in it basically has flattened out any surf we had. Tomorrow looks like more of the small. Here is yet another boring CDIP image...

On average most spots are going to see ankle-knee high surf tomorrow. It will be small, soft, and close to shore. Longboards will probably be the best...everything else is going to feel pretty slow.

Wind will be light and variable in the morning and moderate onshore W flow around 10-14 knots moves in through the afternoon.

I will post the tides but really we don’t need them.

01:19AM LDT 0.9 L
07:02AM LDT 3.5 H
12:37PM LDT 1.2 L
06:57PM LDT 5.2 H

Monday, May 18, 2009

Surf for Tuesday – I feel the excitement is gone

Tuesday will be semi-rideable on the lower tides but overall it isn’t going to be a surf day.

Really what we are dealing with here is lack of swell...the weather and the winds are ok...we just don’t have waves to go along with it.

Currently we have a small, not very consistent, S-SW swell mix (180-210+220) from a couple of different sources in the SPAC. We also have some small NW windswell leaking in from the outer waters. The swell mix is barely breaking the 1.5-2’ range on the local buoys with most of the energy in the lower periods (which is never a good sign). Check out the CDIP...that is a lot of boring blue.

On Tuesday the average spots can expect surf to run in the knee-waist high range on the bigger sets. The better exposed SW-WNW facing combo spots will have some inconsistent chest high sets. Expect long waits between waves and soft shape as the tide fills in (and we get some afternoon wind bump).

Winds will be ok...light and variable in the morning. Afternoon winds come onshore around 10-12 knots for most areas.

Small wave gear is definitely the way to go on might be able to get away with a smaller fishy shape at the top spots (on the lower tides and a good sandbar)...but you are going to be generating a lot of your own speed so longboards might be more fun for bigger surfers (like myself). I definitely wouldn’t spend a lot time looking for waves...just hop on the first spot that looks sort of fun...there won’t be much else out there.

Here are the tides...

12:36AM LDT 1.6 L
05:59AM LDT 3.4 H
12:01PM LDT 1.1 L
06:30PM LDT 4.7 H

2009 Hurricane Season

Happy Hurricane Season!

May 15th is the official start of the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season...and in honor of the start of the new season I decided to resurface one of the longest posts that I have ever written on this blog!

The content on scoring hurricane surf...and what to watch for in a hurricane in your swell still the same as I posted last season, but I did update my half-assed seasonal outlook. So I will start with the new content.

My half-assed opinion on the 2009 tropical season.

Just looking back on the 2008 season and while it was fairly active from a storm perspective it wasn’t all that great at sending surf to Southern California. We had 7 full hurricanes, 9 tropical storms, and over 72 combined days of Tropical Storm/Hurricane activity for the season (some of which overlap as we had multiple storms running on the same days).

From a swell looks like the storms Elida, Fausto, Hernan, and Genevieve were some of the better swell makers. None of them were great at producing surf but they at least got some waves on the beaches here. Notoriously, Hurricane Norbert, was probably the biggest bust of the season.

Check out the NHC maps for 2008

The first part of the season

The second part

On to 2009...the long-range indicators, namely El Nino/La Nina forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center, are showing some decent changes that have started to crop up over the last few weeks that bode pretty well for the 2009 tropical season.

Right now we are in an ENSO (EL NIÑO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION) neutral we are right in-between El Nino /La Nina and our water temps in the equatorial East Pacific are what we consider average. This alone puts us in better tropical-storm potential...last year at this time we were trying to power through a more dominant La Nina pattern. The long-range forecasts are showing a gradual shifting to an El Nino pattern by later in July and August, which is prime hurricane season for the West Coast.

Sea Surface Temp Improving

With the improving tropical potential I am inclined to be a bit more optimistic on the 2009 season. Likely we are going to see something similar or slightly better than last year. Personally I think that we will have about 20-21 named tropical storms...with 8-10 becoming hurricanes. This isn’t more than a gut feeling at this point but with the warmer water and the slowly strengthening El Nino pattern we have a much better chance than the last couple of years.

- Adam

How to score surf from hurricane swells!

May 15th is the official start of the East Pacific Hurricane season…or what I sometimes like to call “special happy time” but more frequently refer to it as “a royal pain in the ass for surf forecasters”. In celebration of the start of the season I thought that I would throw together a little info on East Pacific Hurricanes and how they affect the surf in Southern California.

Unless you have been living under a rock in the Himalayas (that doesn’t have cable or satellite TV) you probably have at least an idea of what a hurricane is…so I won’t spend a ton of time going over the storm itself…here is the official version from the National Hurricane Center…

“The terms "hurricane" and "typhoon" are regionally specific names for a strong "tropical cyclone". A tropical cyclone is the generic term for a non-frontal synoptic scale low-pressure system over tropical or sub-tropical waters with organized convection (i.e. thunderstorm activity) and definite cyclonic surface wind circulation

Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 34 knots are called "tropical depressions" Once the tropical cyclone reaches winds of at least 34 knots they are typically called a "tropical storm" and assigned a name. From there when winds reach 64-knots then they called “hurricanes” (or cyclones or typhoons…depending on what geographic region you are in).”

The official version is a little dry considering they are trying to describe potentially one of the most destructive releases of latent heat energy that can occur in our atmosphere…but hey that is government for you…I am sure that they could describe a nuclear explosion in a way that would make you fall asleep after the third paragraph.

For this little lesson…first I am going to throw down a little geography and terminology, because that is the way that I roll, and it will help our conversation about surf make more sense later, particularly when we start dealing with active storms. Anyway here is a little of the geography…

Our region is a little “special”
When you look around the world there are generally 7 areas that have consistent cyclone activity but our special little corner in the east North Pacific actually boasts an extra-bonus feature…our storms have a tendency to move away from land and generally pose less of a danger to life/limb/and property. Don’t get me wrong…they are still ass-kicking weather systems and will sometimes spin back and wreak havoc through Mexico and Central America...but they are quite a bit less likely to do so than the other tropical regions.

This is sort of a catch-22 from a surf standpoint…hurricanes have a tendency to send the strongest swell along their movement path, which means that while we don’t have storms make landfall, (and come along and stick it in sideways like they do to the East Coast sometimes), we also don’t always get the best swell that we could from these systems.

The Layout
From a geographic standpoint the East Pacific tropical region runs from the west Coast of Central America, down to the equator, and then out to the 140W longitude line. The northern border is a little more flexible since storms have a tendency to die off as they hit cold water.

The incubator
The Gulf of Tehuantepec and the surrounding areas have a tendency to be the storm incubator of the EPAC tropics. The mix of coastal geography, local wind patterns, and extremely warm water provide a good catalyst for storm formation. In most tropical seasons you can track a number of storms back to this little caldron that is located down along the coast of southern Mainland Mexico.

The ITCZ is short for “Intertropical Convergence Zone”, which is good that they gave it an acronym because writing the full term gets old fast. The ITCZ is an area where two different cells of air circulation meet along the surface of the ocean and push skyward. This convergence has a tendency to create a band of thunderstorms and tropical systems that are the early stages of tropical waves (and eventually full tropical cyclones). Anyway the ITCZ is more of a fluid entity than a fixed weather feature…oh it always exists…but it can move around and change intensity as different factors influence it. The ITCZ is important in the fact that it provides a low-wind zone for tropical storms to start their cyclonic rotation without being disrupted. From a forecast standpoint it is important to keep track of the ITCZ…the further north it drifts the better of a chance you have a storm formation…to close to the equator and you lose the Coriolis Effect.

Sea Surface Temps
When it comes to forecasting surf from hurricanes it is always important to keep an eye on sea-surface temperatures. Hurricanes need some very specific conditions to form and maintain circulation. One of the biggest factors is the ocean temps. The general rule of thumb is that a storm needs sea-surface temps to be at least 80-degrees Fahrenheit (or around 27-degrees Celsius)...and that temperature needs to extend down about 50-meters below the ocean surface. The storm doesn't actually draw that much energy from the water but it is more about the water temperature's effect on the air-mass directly above it. (this sort of gives me a I leave the heavy mental lifting to the NHC's big brains)

Due to limitations of public satellites it is hard to get a read on ocean temps beyond what you can see on surface but you can sort of guestimate where the pockets of storm potential water is.

Once a storm has moved out of the warmer waters it starts to lose power as its convection fails. This also means a lot of the storms winds start to lift up off the surface of the ocean and swell production is cut off, which is obviously a good thing to keep an eye on if you are trying to score surf from a hurricane.

Upper level steerage and sheering winds
On some levels hurricanes are actually pretty fragile weather systems...we already talked about their need for warm water/airmass which affects them from a surface standpoint...well they also need specific conditions to occur in the upper level of the atmosphere in order to start circulation. In particular they need some light/moderate winds blowing through the higher altitudes to sort of spark up the circulation that eventually becomes the full-scale cyclone convection. If these winds are too light then the storm won't spin up. The adverse is true as well...if the winds are too strong they will shear the top of the storm off, breaking the balance needed to maintain rotation.

One thing to watch is how the large scale wind patterns are moving through the tropical region...sometimes a storm will start in a favorable area only to move into a region that has more wind moving in the upper levels and it will begin to shear...and again once the storm starts to unbalance the surface winds get disrupted and swell production is shut down.

La Nina and El Nino (its Spanish for "the nino"!)
You hear a lot about El Nino/La Nina patterns in connection to hurricanes...and they do have a strong influence on the season as a whole...but it is good to think of it in terms of "potential" rather than a guaranteed stellar surf season. Both of these patterns represent the difference in SST's for the East Pacific region. An El Nino year means that the SST's are above average and the La Nina means that they are below average. The thing to keep in mind that there is quite a difference between an El Nino that is 0.5 degrees warmer than average compared to an El Nino that is a whopping 4+ degrees warmer. The amount of energy that it takes to heat a large area of the ocean is staggering and the more heat that is poured into it the more energy it will have to release later to equalize itself.

Here is the official definition from the Climate Prediction Center...

El Niño - El Niño, a phase of ENSO, is a periodic warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific along with a shift in convection in the western Pacific further east than the climatological average. These conditions affect weather patterns around the world. El Niño episodes occur roughly every four-to-five years and can last up to 12-to-18 months. The preliminary CPC definition of El Niño is a phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean characterized by a positive sea surface temperature departure from normal (for the 1971-2000 base period), averaged over three months, greater than or equal in magnitude to 0.5oC in a region defined by 120oW-170oW and 5oN-5oS (commonly referred to as Niño 3.4). El Niño, which would appear off the coast of Peru around Christmas time, is Spanish for "the boy" referring to the Christ child.

Basically when you break it El Nino year means warmer water in the East Pacific Tropical region...more warm water means more potential hurricanes. La Nina means cooler water and less potential hurricanes…(Funny thing about that is the opposite is actually true for the US East Coast. El Nino means a less active tropical season while a La Nina means a more intense one. Damn can’t they make anything easy.)

And finally...this picture sums up the El Nino perfectly...

Ok enough science...lets get on to the surf.
Does your head hurt...yeah mine too...lets talk about the fun stuff...the surf that a hurricane can kick out.

Hurricane surf is pretty has a tendency to be punchy, stacked up, and at the right spots...really hollow. It also can sneak in from swell angles that we could never get from normal southern hemi storms, which in turn lets it hit spots that are normally small and sheltered.

If you have been surfing for a few years you probably have a hurricane surf story...everyone does...they sort of go "remember hurricane 'blank'? Man I surfed this longboard-spot/reef/harbor-entrance/ was like double overhead and reeling!"

The thing is that hurricane swells feel magical...they usually hit over the summer when the water is warm and clear and the swell is so consistent that you surf until your arms want to fall off. When you start thinking about Hurricane swells in the terms of the waves that you will surf of course you want to score more and more of it.

Getting Hurricane Surf
When you get down to brass tacks hurricanes are similar, but smaller, versions of mid and upper latitude the same principles apply to them when it comes time for them to generate swell.

You may want to brush up on how waves are can read my barely coherent ramblings on that here.

Here are the basic things that you need to keep in mind when forecasting surf from hurricanes.

Storm Size - The bigger the storm the larger the fetch, the more fetch the more potential swell.

Intensity - The greater the wind speeds the bigger the surf...generally goes hand in hand with storm size since the bigger storms have a tendency to have more intense wind speeds than the smaller systems.

Movement track - You want a storm to be moving toward you. Hurricanes that are moving are sort of like flashlights...the swell is sent out the along the movement track. So the longer the storm is moving toward your location the more swell (and bigger waves) you can expect.

Movement Speed - This is tied to movement track...a storm can move too fast and sort of outrun the swell it is producing, which limits both the quality and quantity. A slower moving storm will have time to build a better sea-state, which lets it build a better swell. A perfectly paced storm will actually create a "travelling fetch" which will let the storm pour more energy into waves that it has already created...basically building the swell without the need for faster winds.

Storm Track vs Storm Speed
Ideally if you want to get great hurricane surf you want the storm to be moving toward you at a slow to moderate pace. Now actually getting a hurricane to head your direction isn't all that is sort of like herding cats, (well if the cat was 300 miles across, didn’t respond to the slightest human stimuli, and could smash everything that you care about into tiny pieces…then yeah it would be just like that…where was I? oh storm movement) this is where good storm speed can help compensate for a bad storm track.

If we go back to the flashlight analogy...the faster a storm moves the tighter the beam of swell becomes. If a storm is stalled or moving at a very slow rate it is sending out energy in all directions but as the storm speed picks up the swell energy tightens along the movement path. This image is a good illustration of what I mean.

You can still get swell from a hurricane even if it isn't headed directly towards your location but the system needs to be moving at the correct speed in regard to your position.

These are good rules of thumb concerning storm speed.

1. The Storm is moving away from your location: You want the speed to below 2-knots
2. Storm is moving along a path 90-degrees perpendicular to your location: You want the speed to below 5-7 knots (depends on the storm size...a wider storm can be moving a touch faster).
3. Storm generally toward your location: You want the movement speed to be below 8-10 knots.
4. Storm is coming to punch your ticket and drive up your homeowners insurance: Then you can have storm speed up to 15-17 knots and still get swell...any faster and the system starts to outrun the swell energy…and probably your ability to escape to safety. (Man aren’t I cheery today)

Seasonal expectations
While you can get hurricane swell at almost any time during the tropical season... Southern California definitely sees better hurricane swell activity as we move through the middle to end of the season. The reason for this is more due to the nature of the seasonal wind patterns than anything.

During the "Early Season", which runs from the spring into early summer, tropical systems have a tendency to track straight from east-to-west and move out into the open ocean.

As you get into the middle of the season, which is summer into early fall, the storms start to make a slight jog northward and eventually hook back toward land. This hook starts to line up the movement track with SoCal making it more likely for us to get waves.

Finally at the end of the season most storms are performing the “hook” sometimes right after they have formed. This is one of the more dangerous times to be along the Pacific side of Baja since storms can spin back toward land relatively quickly. They can cause a lot of damage even making landfall as a tropical wave or depression…remember there is a lot of dry land in baja that can’t hold a lot of water…so even a couple of inches of rain (or say the 30 inches a tropical storm can drop in a short period) can cause major flooding.

Naturally you want to be somewhere in the middle/end of the season where the storms have a chance of "aiming" towards SoCal and the Pacific side of Baja.

Swell Windows and Swell Directions
Swell windows are pretty darn important to Hurricane swells...more so than the bigger frontal systems. First off a hurricane is a smaller storm so the fetch is narrower and the swell is more focused...this compounded by the fact that hurricane swells generally have shorter swell-periods which don't wrap around corners as well as long-period swells. So if the storm is out of your swell window you are sort of out of luck...I have seen swells where the angle of the swell will cut off surf like a knife-blade as you move a 1/4 mile up a beach.

Generally Orange County and LA have the most SE’erly swell windows and can take in swells from 155-160 degrees…some of the other spots like north San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura start seeing swell around 170. Other very protected areas like the South Bay need a more traditional SW swell around 200 degrees (which isn’t all that common for a tropical systems.

My favorite Hurricane Links
Here are a few of my favorite links to hurricane related stuff...I will drop these on my link list as well.

Climate Prediction Center

National Hurricane Center

NHC Satellites

Navy Research Laboratory Monterey

University of Hawaii - Tropical Page

FNMOC Ensemble Forecasts (good place to see upper level winds)

NOAA Sea-Surface Temps

Hope you guys get some tropical waves this summer/fall!

Monday Morning Report –Small and a bit inconsistent

It is clean but not much of a surf day this morning. Don't get me wrong it is ridable but there are some long waits between sets...and even the bigger waves don't have a lot of push behind them.

In the water we have a mix of small SW swell (200-215) and a weak local windswell.

Most spots are averaging around knee-waist high with some inconsistent waist high plus sets sneaking through at times. The top standout spots, mostly in Orange County and parts of San Diego, are seeing waist-chest high sets with an occasional bigger chest-shoulder high peak. It is very inconsistent and the shape is starting to look pretty drained as we drop to the lower tide.

Winds are clean with mostly light and variable conditions for all of our regions. Look for W winds around 10-12 knots for the afternoon.

Here are the tides…have a good Monday.

04:45AM LDT 3.4 H
11:23AM LDT 0.9 L
06:04PM LDT 4.2 H

Friday, May 15, 2009

Waves for the Weekend – On the quiet side

Both Saturday and Sunday will be rideable but our surf will be on the small side.

We are going to have a mix of SW swell and WNW-NW windswell energy...both of which will be backing down as we move through Saturday into Sunday. Check out the sideways forecast model...I think it sums it up the best.

Over the weekend wave heights will be in the knee-to-inconsistent-waist high range for most exposed spots. The standout combo spots, mostly through San Diego, will have a few chest high sets...and maybe a couple of rare bigger ones on the lower tides. Overall it will be soft and slow...with longer waits between waves.

Winds look good...clean in the mornings with just light/variable to very light S-SE flow early. Afternoons will have W winds around 10-13 knots...with some potential clean up occurring around sundown as the slight eddy tries to reset itself.

I would plan on using the smaller wave gear over the weekend...the lack of swell, the inconsistency in the sets, and the higher tides will make things a little frustrating...if you can catch more of the smaller sets you will probably have more fun. Try and stick to the best combo spots if can...there will just be a bit more to work with in those areas.

Have a good one...I am off to take my soon-to-be 4 year old to have brunch with Shamu for his birthday...but considering my history with marine mammals I can tell this is going to end badly for me.

No means no Shamu....

Here are the tides...

01:47AM LDT 3.8 H
09:51AM LDT 0.6 L
05:13PM LDT 3.6 H
10:25PM LDT 2.8 L

03:16AM LDT 3.6 H
10:41AM LDT 0.8 L
05:40PM LDT 3.8 H
11:43PM LDT 2.2 L

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Friday’s Surf – Smaller but still fun

Friday will be another surf day.

It won’t be great or all that consistent but there will still be a little swell in the water and the winds will continue to stay on the light side.

We are going to have a mix of fading SW swell (180-220) and background WNW-NW energy.

Most spots are going to continue to hold around waist high. The standout SW facing spots, mostly through OC and San Diego, will be in the waist-chest high range with a few inconsistent chest-shoulder high sets. It will be long waits between waves but there will be a few fun peaks at the better exposed combo breaks.

Winds will be similar to Thursday…sort of light and variable to light out of the S-SE in the morning with some W winds 10-14 knots on tap in the afternoon. Overcast and gloomy in the morning with sun burning through by the afternoon.

Again it won’t be great, or consistent, tomorrow but the surf will be on the clean side and there will be enough energy for us to at least have a little fun. Water is starting to warm up too…HB was probably close to the low-mid 60’s today. I would still plan on your smaller wave gear or even longboards just so you can maximize the fun.

Here are the tides…

12:40AM LDT 4.2 H
08:57AM LDT 0.5 L
04:34PM LDT 3.3 H
08:25PM LDT 3.0 L

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Surf for Thursday – Playful mix and better winds

Thursday is looking like a surf day.

It won’t be great but the eddy is starting to break up so conditions are looking cleaner for tomorrow and it looks like beach temps are going to be creeping up as well.

In the water we are going to have a mix of SW swell (180-220 coming in from all over) and some WNW-NW background energy (a mix of local windswell and some other medium period energy).

Most spots are going to see waist high surf...with a couple of larger waves sneaking through at times. The standout spots are still going to pull in a few chest-shoulder high sets...but they will be on the inconsistent side.

The local winds are going to mellow out this evening and there is a new high pressure sort of edging over the region that is going to shut down the eddy circulation for a couple of days. Look for light and variable winds tomorrow morning with more moderate WNW flow around 10-12 knots by the afternoon.

While it won’t be worth driving all that far tomorrow it does look like you can have some fun if you paddle out in the right frame of mind. I think your smaller wave gear would be the most fun...mostly because the SW sets are inconsistent and most of the waves coming through are sort of burgery windswell. The combo beach breaks will probably be the most fun...but don’t count out the well exposed reefs/points either.

Here are the tides...

08:01AM LDT 0.2 L
03:31PM LDT 3.1 H
06:33PM LDT 2.9 L

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Waves for Wednesday – Go away wind

Wednesday will be surfable but like the last few days the eddy will continue to send in some bump.

We will have a mix of overlapping SW swell (180-220) and some NW windswell pushing in from the outer waters.

Most spots will have surf in the waist high range with some inconsistent waist high+ sets. The standout SW facing spots and the better combo spots in San Diego and South OC will have chest-shoulder high sets pushing through on the lower tides.

The eddy circulation is forecast to continue won’t be horrible but the S winds will be present in the morning. Right now it looks like light S-SE winds around 5-8 if you are looking for cleaner surf you should plan on checking the spots that have some protection from the S winds. W winds around 10-12 knot build in through the afternoon.

Not many changes compared to the last few days...I think that the eddy will actually be a touch lighter than we have been seeing...but it still won’t glassy except in a few areas. Smaller wave gear will probably be more fun.

Here are the tides...

07:09AM LDT 0.0 L
02:13PM LDT 3.0 H
05:32PM LDT 2.7 L
11:51PM LDT 4.6 H

Monday, May 11, 2009

Surf for Tuesday – Small combo swell…still some wind issues

Tuesday will have some surf but it isn’t going to be much of a surf day for most areas.

We are going to see a similar swell combo to what we have had over the last couple of days…with just a touch of reinforcing energy to keep wave heights pretty steady. We will have a mix of SW swell (180-210) and some NW windswell. A new SW pulse (200-220) will arrive and help to prop up the fading energy from the weekend.

Wave heights will be in the waist high…maybe waist high+ range for most of the average breaks. The top SW facing spots and good combo breaks with exposure to both the SW and the NW energy will have some chest-shoulder high sets on the lower tides. Sets will be inconsistent but could be playful if conditions cooperate.

Wind and weather is where we run into issues again. The june-gloom eddy circulation will be settling back in tonight and is expected to keep southerly winds going through the morning. Right now forecasts are shifting between the winds coming out of the S to SE…obviously the more East we get into it the better it will be across the region. Personally I think that it will be slightly cleaner around sunup but then winds will shift more to the S and keep things pretty junky through the rest of the day.

For tomorrow I think your best bet is going to be at the spots protected from the S winds. You might sacrifice some size in a few areas but the cleaner conditions will probably be worth it. Look for the biggest waves through San Diego and parts of South OC…though both Southern Ventura and the South Bay will have some bigger sets as well. If you are close by I would look for the more wind protected spots in those areas.

Here are the tides…

06:23AM LDT -0.3 L
01:06PM LDT 3.1 H
04:55PM LDT 2.5 L
11:12PM LDT 5.0 H

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Monday’s Surf – Smaller with a touch of eddy

Monday is looking surfable but it won’t be a great surf day.

We are going to see a mix of mostly leftover S swell (180-200), a smaller SW pulse, and a bit of local NW windswell from the outer waters.

In general we can expect surf around waist high for most spots…maybe a few waist high+ sets as the low tide rolls through in the morning. Top SW facing spots and good combo breaks will be more consistently in the chest high range with a few shoulder high waves on the better parts of the tide swing.

Winds are looking ok…the forecast is calling for light winds through the day but with a “WITH A COASTAL EDDY CIRCULATION POSSIBLE EACH NIGHT AND MORNING.” (I have never been able to figure out why the NWS has removed the caps unlock button from their computers.). Anyhoo…we can expect more of the overcast morning skies and probably some light texture at spots exposed to the S winds (mostly in the SD and OC areas.) These winds will sort of fluke their way through the morning and then turn W and come onshore around 10-12 knots for the afternoon.

Overall I think that we will be able to get a few waves tomorrow...personally I am going to aim for a midmorning session and try to capitalize on the tide push and the hopefully still light winds. I think that the smaller wave boards will be the best call but if you are a lighter surfer you will probably be able to ride whatever you want.

Here are the tides…and happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms…you ladies rock!

05:40AM LDT -0.6 L
12:11PM LDT 3.2 H
04:24PM LDT 2.3 L
10:37PM LDT 5.3 H

Friday, May 8, 2009

Waves for the Weekend – Combo swell continues

Saturday and Sunday both look like surf days...on paper...but the potential for the funky chicken eddy winds will continue to kind of hang out there in the background.

The wind this morning that blew through SD and OC was pretty freaking lame...and trust me I was as bummed about it as you were. There were a few spots out there that were protected enough to be fun...but you had to hunt around for them.

On Saturday and Sunday the mix of S-SSW swell (180-200) will continue push through and blend with some fading but still fun WNW windswell. Saturday will be the biggest day as the S swell continues to peak but decent size will hold into Sunday (and really into the early part of next week).

Sizewise look for lots of chest-shoulder high surf at the average exposed spots this weekend. The standout S facing breaks and the best combo spots will have some head high+ sets through Saturday that will get less consistent and more in the shoulder-head high range by Sunday.

Winds are were things get a little funky...these winds we have here on Friday are forecast to back down tonight and turn more S-SE’erly for tomorrow morning. The different forecast models are calling for either light S winds or light/variable to light SE for the morning on both Saturday and Sunday. By midday we can expect building SW-W onshore flow with it topping out around 10-14 knots for the afternoon.

I think it will be surfable at most areas may be bumpy and shape may be a little lame...but it will be rideable. The S facing spots will have the biggest waves but I think the combo spots that have some protection from the S winds will actually be the best call for tomorrow. I wouldn’t plan on driving very far just because the winds are so unstable...but if you have a spot like that close by I would give it a check. I would keep an eye on the winds as well later Friday night...if they do back down after dark then we have a better shot of getting more widespread cleaner conditions by Saturday. Same goes for Saturday night into Sunday.

Well cross your fingers that the winds don’t try and shaft us too hard (it is springtime)...have a good one.

04:24AM LDT -0.8 L
10:39AM LDT 3.5 H
03:27PM LDT 1.8 L
09:35PM LDT 5.7 H

05:01AM LDT -0.7 L
11:24AM LDT 3.4 H
03:56PM LDT 2.1 L
10:05PM LDT 5.5 H

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Surf for Friday – Combo swell fun-time!

Friday will be a surf day.

As it stands I don’t know that I would cancel work or anything...but I would plan on trying to carve out some time to surf tomorrow. Right now Friday looks like it will be playful and fun at the exposed spots. It even has potential to be a good surf day...but we need the swell combo, the winds, and the tides to mix a little better than they have been over the last couple of days.

In the water we have a mix of fading, but still steady, WNW swell (290-300) and some building S-SSW swell (180-200) that will start peaking in the afternoon. The S-SSW’er is actually filling in bit today, even sending in some inconsistent cross up sets to a S facing spot I surfed midmorning. Check it out on the O-Side buoy...

It isn’t a ton of energy right now but it will be coming up as we move into Friday and Saturday.

On Friday the average spots, with exposure both to the S-SSW swell or the WNW swell, will have surf in the chest-shoulder high range. The standout S facing spots and the good combo breaks will be around shoulder-head high with some overhead sets. It will be more consistent on the lower tides...but if you have a good sandbar it should still be manageable on the high tide.

Winds look good for tomorrow...mostly light and variable through the morning with a couple of weak pockets of texture showing at the more exposed beaches. W winds around 10-12 knots move in through the afternoon.

The swell mix is pretty democratic you should be able to find some sort of surf almost everywhere. I would look for the biggest waves in San Diego, Orange County, and Southern Ventura...LA County will be pretty good too, maybe a touch smaller. Santa Barbara is shadowed from the S swell but there should be enough WNW energy/windswell to get a few sets sneaking into the best spots...though I would stick with the south county breaks if you can...expect SB to be smaller than the other areas.

Hope you guys have a chance to surf a bit are the tides...

03:47AM LDT -0.7 L
09:55AM LDT 3.6 H
02:59PM LDT 1.6 L
09:06PM LDT 5.8 H

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Waves for Thursday – Looks fun...go Surfing

Thursday looks like a surf day.

I got a chance to get in the water (in North HB) earlier today and that WNW mix was doing pretty well. I would even say that I undercalled the swell mix a bit in the forecast yesterday. Shape wasn’t stellar by the time I paddled out, the onshore wind was getting to it and it was a bit lined up, but it had some decent size to the sets. On average it was about head high but there were a couple of bigger sets lurking out there.

On Thursday that WNW swell mix (290-300) is going to continue...and we are going to start to see an increasing SSW swell (180-200) that is going to be arriving throughout the day with long-period energy. The SSW’er will actually peak on Friday/Saturday but there will be some bigger sets at the S facing spots as it fills in slowly.

In the morning I would look for the biggest waves at the same WNW facing spots that had them showing on Wednesday. The SSW’er won’t have much size in the the S facing spots will still be working off mostly leftovers. By the afternoon the combo spots will be a better call. The morning will look something like this...

Sizewise it looks like the average W facing breaks will be in the chest-shoulder high range. The Standout NW facing those in San Diego, Ventura, and the South Bay...will have some shoulder-head high surf with some overhead sets still mixing in at times. It will be more consistent on the bigger sets during the lower tide.

The winds look good tomorrow...mostly light and variable through the morning...maybe even a touch light-offshore for a few of the areas near passes and canyons. WNW winds around 10-14 knots build in through the afternoon.

Good winds, decent WNW swell mix, building SSW swell...I don’t think that it will be “firing” but it should be pretty fun in most shouldn’t have to drive around too much to find waves. I would stick to the NW facing spots if you want the bigger sizes.

Here are the tides...

03:09AM LDT -0.5 L
09:10AM LDT 3.8 H
02:30PM LDT 1.2 L
08:38PM LDT 5.8 H

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Waves for Wednesday – More WNW windswell combo

Wednesday is looking another marginal surf day...there will definitely be some waves but weather and surf shape will still be on the fugly side.

On Wednesday we are going to have a mix of building WNW windswell and some steady but smaller WNW swell (290-300+). The swell periods are going to be holding right around 7-8 seconds for the windswell and more like 10-13 seconds for the medium period energy. Neither one is all that good for surf shape, except at select beaches that generally do better on the windswell-type swells. The swell angle 290+ also is a bit to northwesty for most SoCal spots...particularly at the shorter swell periods where the swell doesn’t wrap into spots all that well.

Sooooo...thanks to the rather ho-hum swell mix...I am looking for most exposed WNW-NW facing spots to see surf in the chest-shoulder high range. It will be rather gutless and stacked up...but if the tide is low and the sandbars are decent you might be able to string together a couple of sections.

The Standout NW facing spots, mostly in Ventura and San Diego, will have some shoulder-head high sets...with maybe a rare lumpy head high+ set sneaking through at times. Those regions will have similar shape issues to the average spots but with a little more energy trying to improve things. Again I don’t think it will be worth driving all that far but if you are within a reasonable distance I would still give it a check.

Winds look similar to Tuesday...sort of NW’erly in the Ventura and Santa Barbara, more variable through LA County (particularly up around North County/Santa Monica), and then light Southerly in OC and SD. If you have a WNW facing spot with high cliffs, kelp, or something else to break the wind a bit that would probably be your best bet.

Here are the tides...have a safe Tequila Day!

02:28AM LDT -0.1 L
08:22AM LDT 3.9 H
01:58PM LDT 1.0 L
08:09PM LDT 5.7 H

Monday, May 4, 2009

Surf for Tuesday – Building WNW-NW energy

Tuesday looks like a marginal surf day.

We will have some building swell but shape and winds could make things a bit funky. We are going to see new WNW-NW swell, a medium-period/windswell combo, that fills in overnight and peaks through Tuesday afternoon/Wednesday before fading out. On Tuesday it will mix with some very background SW leftovers as well.

I am not super stoked on this WNW’er even though the model likes it...the storm didn’t have a ton of wind...and the actual 10-14 second energy that the WavewatchIII model is calling for isn’t all that much (only about 2-3’ of deepwater energy). The majority of the “size” in the model is forecast to be generated by local windswell (thanks to strengthening winds in the outer waters). Ideally these 2 swells will blend nicely and we will get to have some fun...but realistically I think that they will be a bit gutless and stacked/lumpy as they overlap.

Sizewise the WNW facing spots can expect some chest high+ surf with some bigger sets coming through on the lower tides. The standout NW facing spots in Ventura, the South Bay, and San Diego will have more consistent shoulder-high+ surf with some head high sets in the afternoon. Shape like I said will be a little suspect but there are always those windswell breaks that can be playful.

Winds will be ok to marginal...a lot will depend on how much the eddy spins up overnight. Right now it looks like Ventura/Santa Barbara will have some NW flow around 10+ knots through the morning. LA will be more variable thanks to the eddy swirl. OC and SD will be variable to light out of the S in the morning...but look for more SW bump by midmorning. W-NW winds 10-15 knots move in by the afternoon.

Since the WNW energy has some fairly steep swell angles (some of the energy is 295+) San Diego is going to see the most size tomorrow...with Ventura and the South Bay running pretty close. I don’t think it is worth driving to any of these areas since there will be waves in almost every other region but if you are located somewhere in between I would check those spots first. With winds being questionable I would probably give the cams/buoys/weather-stations a check in the morning before committing to driving any sort of distance.

Here are the tides...oh and it sucks that Cinco de Mayo is on a Tuesday this year.

01:43AM LDT 0.5 L
07:29AM LDT 4.0 H
01:25PM LDT 0.7 L
07:40PM LDT 5.4 H