Thursday, August 20, 2009

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 8/20/2009

Forecast Overview
New SW swell (200-220) starts to slowly fill in on Friday and then peaks through Saturday and Sunday. The second, bigger S-SSW’er (180-200) fills in fast on Monday, August 24th, and holds some solid waves through most of next week.

Short Range (next 3 days)

Expect small surf for the morning. The new SW’er (200-220) will be showing some new waves now and then at the top spots but in general there won’t be a lot of new size yet. The SW’er will be filling in through the day and the exposed spots will see inconsistent surf in the waist-shoulder high range by the afternoon/evening. The top SW facing spots, mostly through South OC and North San Diego, will be more consistently in the waist-shoulder high range by the end of the day…and may see a couple bigger head high sets trying to sneak through. Winds/Weather: Unfortunately winds on Friday don’t look very good. NW flow is expected in the 5-10 knot range in the morning and 10-15 knot range by the afternoon. We can expect choppy, bumpy conditions for most areas.

Conditions clean up and the SW swell continues to fill in, eventually peaking around midday. Average spots will have consistent surf in the waist-shoulder high range. Standout SW facing spots will have chest-shoulder high surf and some inconsistent shoulder-head high+ sets. Expect longer waits between the bigger waves, particularly as the high tide peaks. Winds/Weather: Mostly clean morning conditions with light and variable winds on tap for most areas…a few spots will have some slightly textured conditions thanks to a weak eddy. Overcast skies continue through the early part of the day. WNW winds 10-12+ knots move in through the afternoon.

The SW’er (190-210 now) will continue to hold and since the swell angle is shifting more southerly it will be bigger at spots that were initially shadowed by the nearshore islands. Look for more waist-shoulder high surf at the average S-SW facing spots. Top breaks, again mostly through OC and SD (but in parts of North LA too), will be in the chest-shoulder high+ range pretty consistently with some bigger shoulder-head high+ waves sneaking through on the bigger sets. New S-SSW swell (180-200) starts to fill in through the background later in the day and may help with size and consistency as we head towards the evening. Winds/Weather: Looks clean with light and variable winds through the morning. Look for building onshore WNW winds in the 10-12 knot range by the afternoon.


North Pacific
Still not a ton going on in the NPAC but there are a couple of weak lows showing on the forecasts. These systems are sort of low-grade spinners that form in the higher latitudes of the Gulf of Alaska, and mostly outside of our swell window. There will be some minor energy from these guys, but it will be background energy and almost completely lost in the bigger Southern Hemis. Local windswell will be increasing as we head into next week…not sure if it will help to break up the S swell but it will be out there trying.

South Pacific
The SPAC has been nice and active over the last few days. The storm setting up the waves for next week pulsed up about as expected but never really got the “pop” on the wind speeds that I wanted. It will still send us a good swell but I think it may be a touch smaller than the forecasts earlier in the week were calling for. Check it out…this is the quikscat winds from the best day of the storm.

It shows that the storm had some great things going on…well positioned from a longitude standpoint, it has a big fetch both in terms of length and width, and (you can’t see it on the chart) but it had all kinds of pre-existing sea-state as well. About the only bad things that I don’t like about the storm is that it is positioned pretty close to Antarctica (further away from us) and that it didn’t get a huge shot of 50+ knot winds…mostly it stayed in the 35-50-knot range.

So like I said…there is still a healthy swell coming next week but it won’t be massive like that swell we had in July.

Look for the first long-period SW swell (200-220) forerunners to start to show on Friday the 21st. This first part of the swell will fill in throughout the day and then start to peak Saturday and Sunday, August 22-23rd. At it peaks, this initial SW’er will be good for chest-shoulder high waves at the average S facing spots while the standouts see head high and some inconsistent overhead sets.

The second, bigger and more Southerly portion of the swell (180-200) starts to arrive late on the 23rd and will peak the 24-27th. This more southerly swell has a better angle and the fetch was a bit closer so I am expecting more size and more consistency as it peaks. Look for average S facing spots to move into the shoulder-head high range while the standout S facing spots see consistent shoulder-overhead sizes and some less consistent sets going a couple of feet overhead. Some of the best deepwater breaks, the ones that focus the S swell, will have some bigger sets at times.

This still looks like a good travel swell…the swell once it gets going will be sticking around for days, likely holding playful waves almost out to the 29-30th…and if we get lucky we may see a touch more windswell helping to break it up locally, which may help to thin out crowds at the points/reefs.

Northeast Pacific Tropics
Not much going on in the tropics…no new storms expected for the next couple of days.

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Monday, August 24, 2009

- Adam Wright

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