Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tropical Update – Guillermo is about to become hurricane

Tropical atmospheric conditions improved quite a bit for Guillermo here on Thursday. He has steadily intensified throughout the day and it looks like the National Hurricane Center is likely going to grant him Hurricane strength by later this evening. The latest forecast had core winds around 60-knots with gusts at 70-75 knots...core winds need to reach 65-knots for the NHC to call it a hurricane.

The strengthening, the increased convection, and larger size are all good for swell production and, to top it off, Guillermo slowed down a touch today. Instead of cruising along at 17-18 knots his movement speed has backed down to 12-13 knots, which will give the storm’s fetch more time over the sea-state it generates.

From a surf standpoint...we are definitely going to get a boost in the tropical S swell as we head into the weekend.

It takes S swell (in the 13-second range) about 2 days to travel from Guillermo’s position to Southern I am expecting some slowly building tropical energy as we move through the day on Friday (since the storm formed on Wednesday). It won’t be much at first...but the swell will fill in more as we head into the evening. I would look for mostly knee-waist high waves at the S facing spots on Friday...with a few bigger waves at the top S-spots. The bigger sets will get a bit more consistent through the afternoon.

At this point, based on today’s forecast, it looks like the swell will turn slightly more S-SSW (180-195) as we head into Saturday. Look for the tropical energy to peak around midday on Saturday and hold solid through Sunday. The average S facing spots will likely be in the chest high+ range. The top S facing spots, particularly breaks that like tropical swell (the mid-low swell period energy...around 10-13 seconds), will be in the shoulder-head high range. Sets may be a bit inconsistent and finicky early on Saturday, but we can expect more consistency by the afternoon. The swell will hold into Sunday morning before fading out.

This isn’t a great storm, especially compared to many past tropical systems, but it will make some waves, and more importantly it fills a gap in our Southern Hemi activity. Should you bail on your family/kids, drop everything and try and surf 36 hours straight over the weekend? probably not...but if you were planning on doing chores or sitting around scratching yourself it should be worth a quick surf check, or an online pass through the buoys and cameras, once the swell gets going.

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