Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swell Alert – Healthy S swell on tap for next week

Good news...there is a healthy S swell (170-190) heading to SoCal that will peak early next week.

I have been watching a nice South Pacific storm spinning due south (almost SSE) of Southern California for the past several days. If you were looking at the forecast charts this system didn’t look like what you would “traditionally” expect to see in the South Pacific. Most times you have a low-pressure that develops down in the higher-latitudes, around the 50-60 degree latitude rage, over near New Zealand. The traditional system will move west-to-east through the storm track and, if it turns out to be a good swell-maker, it will make some sort of northward push while it is in our swell window.

This storm was actually what forecasters sometimes call a “cutoff-low”, which means that the trough of low-pressure is blocked off from the larger storm track by a ridge of high pressure. Generally the cut-off lows will develop in lower latitudes, which means it has a lot of access to all the warm-moist latent heat energy stored in the tropics. If the atmospheric conditions click in the right way a cut-off low can become quite intense as pulls up the tropical moisture...which is what happened in the case of this system.

Check out the sea-surface pressure chart of this system...I highlighted the good part of the fetch with the horrible red photoshop and bad penmanship.

And here is a shot from the QuikSCAT. You can see the 40-50 knot winds that developed as the storm started to fire off.

There were actually three really good things about this storm...first off was, that by being a cut-off low, it was quite a bit closer to us than it would normally be, which means that we will see a few thousand miles less of swell decay. Second the fetch in the storm made the good push northward which means that the wind had more time to produce the swell. Lastly the system hung together for a few days, which also gave the wind more time over the water, and added some duration to the swell.

Ok all this weather stuff is all well and good...but lets get on to the surf.

For Southern California, we will see this swell start to fill in quickly on Monday, (June 15th), and then peak on Tuesday-Wednesday before slowly fading through the rest of the week. We are also going to have some good-sized leftover SW swell (200-220) coming in from another storm that will peak over the upcoming weekend but will hold plenty of energy in early next week as the S swell hits. Sizewise I am expecting consistent shoulder-head high surf for the average spots and some overhead sizes as the top S-facing breaks.

The mix of these swells means that all of the summer spots will have some sort of surf early next you are basically going to get to pick your poison when it comes to surf spots. Likely the points and reefs are going to be the best shape as this mix hits...but I am crossing my fingers that we see some windswell brew up over the weekend to help us break it up...and thin out the crowds in some spots.

This swell will actually hit Baja Sur (and Central/Northern Mainland Mexico) even harder than it hits SoCal. I expect the swell mix to move in fast in those areas on Sunday...peaking by the afternoon and holding through Monday before slowly dropping towards the end of the week. In Baja look for consistent head high surf at the S facing spots with sets going overhead+ (probably near 7’ faces on the big sets) as the swell peaks. Mainland Mexico will see similar sizes but may be a bit bigger as the SW swell hits the area harder.

Good times...check back for more updates as we get closer.


Anonymous said...

Nice Adam,
Can you stop refering to specific storms and instead...

P.S Hi Mommy issues! Get a therapist!

Anonymous said...

great forecast - I feel bad about claiming "worst forecast ever" a few weeks ago . . . the guilt has been getting to me . . . .