Monday, November 23, 2009

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 11/23/2009

Forecast Overview

Playful WNW-NW energy and some weak SW swell will combine with Santa Ana conditions for the next couple of days. Look for the Santa Anas to back down by Thanksgiving but a new, stronger, WNW swell to arrive Thursday evening and peak into Friday. More swell on tap over the weekend and the possible return of offshore winds by early next week. I love fall even more this year!

Short Range (next 4 days)

We are going to see a mix of WNW-NW energy (280-300 with most of the energy above 290-degrees) from a couple of different sources…some of which, like the shorter-period windswell, will be fading out while new long-period energy fills in slowly through the day. Some small SW swell (200-220) continues to hang in the background. Most spots will see waist high surf on Tuesday while some of the average NW spots see waist-chest high sets. Standout NW facing breaks, mostly through Ventura and San Diego, will have some chest-shoulder high sets. Expect consistency to back down across the region but look for fun surf as the sets show. Winds/Weather: Look for light to moderate Santa Ana offshore winds for the morning. The wind-prone areas of Santa Barbara down through LA County will have NE winds 10-20 knots with some stronger gusts at times. OC and San Diego will have NE winds around 5-10 knots. Look for light onshore flow to push through in the afternoon…but conditions potentially could clean up as the sun sets.

The mix of WNW-NW energy (285-300) will hold while a new, but small, SW pulse (195-220) moves in from the Southern Hemisphere. Look for the average spots, mostly the NW facing ones, to be in the waist-high range with some inconsistent chest high sets. Top NW facing breaks, and the best NW/SW combo spots, will be more in the chest-high range with some inconsistent shoulder high sets showing at times. Winds/Weather: Look for light to moderate Santa Ana offshore winds for the morning. The wind-prone areas of Santa Barbara down through LA County will have NE winds 10-20 knots with some stronger gusts at times. OC and San Diego will have NE winds around 5-10 knots. Look for light onshore flow to push through in the afternoon…but conditions potentially could clean up as the sun sets.

Thursday – Thanksgiving…hmmm Turkey
We will start off with the first WNW-NW swell still holding, some weak SW swell, and a touch of local windswell. Most spots will be in the knee-waist high+ range for the morning. Top NW facing breaks will be in the waist-chest high range with some inconsistent shoulder high sets. New WNW energy (280-300) starts moving in with very long-period energy (18+ seconds) as we move through the second half of the day…look for some new sets starting to show up in Ventura/Santa Barbara before sundown. Winds/Weather: The Santa Ana conditions will weaken slightly…but we will still have some clean morning surf. Look for light and variable winds through the morning and some light onshore WNW flow around 10-12 knots for the afternoon.

The new WNW swell (280-300) will peak on Friday while the windswell and the weak SW swell hold in the background. Look for the average exposed spots to build into the chest-shoulder high range while the better exposed spots see some head high sets. Standout NW facing breaks in Ventura, the South Bay, and San Diego, will have consistent shoulder-head high+ surf with some sets going a couple of feet overhead throughout the day. San Diego standouts may even have some bigger sets at times. Winds/Weather: Quite a bit cooler than earlier in the week thanks to a new cold front passing through the area. Doesn’t look like the morning winds will be too bad…but some of the more exposed breaks further north (SB and Ventura) may have some early NW flow. Look for NW winds to hit 10-20 knots by the afternoon.


North Pacific
As you can see in the short-range forecast there is plenty of WNW-NW swell on tap for the next several days…with a bigger dose lining up for the end of the week. One thing that is worth noting in the Short-range forecast is the arrival-time of the bigger WNW pulse…the last forecast had it coming up faster on Thanksgiving but now it looks like I have to push back the arrival time, we will still see some new waves from that swell on Thursday, particularly in Santa Barbara and Ventura, but the meat of the swell will early Friday morning (holding through the day). Not a lot of change but enough that it is worth calling out to you guys.

In the long-range portion of the forecast there is still plenty more energy on tap through the end of the month. The storm track is pretty open and we are going to see a blend of both long-period energy from systems close to the Aleutians and storms that form closer to the West Coast. At this point it looks like we are going to get a nice shot of short-medium period WNW-NW energy from that cold front that pushes through our region later this week…this shot of swell hits Saturday and holds into Sunday mixing nicely with the long-period energy that will peak on Friday.

We can expect more chest-head high surf at the average WNW facing spots on Saturday and Sunday…and some overhead+ sets at the standout NW facing breaks (again in SD and Ventura as well as some of the top South Bay breaks). Weather may be a little funky on Saturday (but manageable)…by Sunday the Santa Anas are expected to return…so we could be in store for some fun/sizeable waves as we head into the end of the holiday weekend.

Even further out the forecast run is showing lots more storm activity forming in our swell window later this week. If these storms live up to forecasts we will be seeing another round of head high+ WNW swell for the first days of December and potentially a bigger W swell for around Dec 3-4. These storms have a loooooong way before they actually develop but it is good to see so much action on the long-range charts.

South Pacific
Still not a lot of energy in the South Pacific…guess it thinks the NPAC has things covered. We will have a minor, knee-chest high SW pulse (200-220) that arrives on the 24th and holds through the 26th. Not much on tap after that…just minimal energy leaking in through the end of the month.

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Friday, November 27th, 2009

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster


Anonymous said...

Adam, why are you always right but just a little off sometimes with these forcast?

Anonymous said...

all things in life are certain riiigh?

Adam Wright said...

Socal is a pretty dynamic place...lots of shadowing, and a pretty good spread of between the different regions. A lot of times the forecast will be "on" for most of Socal...but still a bit "off" for a particular spot.

Can you give me an example of what you mean by a "little bit off"...are you talking about wave height? swell angle? swell timing? I am always trying to improve the forecasts so the more details you can send over the more dialed in it gets.

I honestly love feedback...particularly if you can include the details. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Adam,

Sunday morning in North SD County was pretty much a bummer, not a lot of height and robust early morning offshore winds that didn't help much. We were expecting a pretty good swell coming in Saturday afternoon through Sunday based on your forecast, but it never materialized.

Based on a long drive down the coast from Oceanside to La Jolla, I don't think shadowing by the islands was the reason. Any idea where the waves went?

I'm not bitching, I know these models are not easy to calibrate, I'm just curious if you agree that this weekend was a miss, and if so why it was so "off" compared to your other recent forecasts.

Do you ever do retrospective analyses to calibrate or validate your models?

Anonymous said...

Surf forecasting is an inexact science and Adam does as good a job as anyone. Those of you complaining about driving to spot X and not getting waves are, excuse me, f-ing idiots.

OH waves were on tap Saturday/Sunday if you knew where to go and it's no secret where you needed to be. The fact that you drove to Oceanside, a SW facing break, looking to score on a fairly steep NW tells me you're a complete nube . . . you need to learn and getting hand feed the information isn't going to do it.

Serisouly, Adam posts up the 'freakin CDIP model with colors showing you EXACTLY where to go and you still CANNOT figure it out.

[end rant]

Anonymous said...

LOL at the guy right above me (someone will surely post something in between now). Each time someone rants on here they prove themselves complete idiots. Just a word to the wise; read the comment before you rip on the guy.

For instance, it was clear the guy wasn't complaining. Adam just asked for feedback and said it was incredibly helpful. I doubt this guy writes that without his comment.

Next up, the guy said he drove FROM O-side to La Jolla. Yea, maybe he should have kept driving down to the cliffs, but at least he knew which direction he traveled.

There're a ton of people in the world who mistakenly think they're smart. Look up a study by Dunning and Krueger. It's about how stupid people fail to recognize such and continue to accuse others.

Please understand that getting better at something means acknowledging mistakes. Knowing when you're making a mistake isn't as easy to know as you may think. That's why this feedback is so invaluable to a guy that takes time to improve his craft. Not understanding that is what makes you and F-ing idiot.

Anonymous said...

Sunday in SD was pretty much dead on with Adams report. I think Adam often calls the swells to be smaller than they actually are (thats a good thing). Yeah, you gotta know where to go and SD is very tricky given both swell directions and swell periods. If you learn to read bouys you'll always know where to go. Sunday for me was solid head high with over head sets.

Anonymous said...

Time for Coco comedy!
2. Riddle me this batman what is your last name and what word is the opposite said a wanna be the riddler!
3.Hindonamouses have a lot to say.
4. With just one life
to see you through
a world where facts
are so untrue!
Thank you to Adam W. Happy thanks giving to you and the family,

Anonymous said...

ranting side, seems like it was probably an island blockage/shadowing issue

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback, I didn't mean to sound so critical of Adam.

I looked at the charts and did my best picking a spot, taking into account my experience with Adam's previous forecasts. Yeah, I'm sort of a nube, and reading surf forecasting charts isn't second nature to me.

I'm also out of work, and can't afford to drive down to join the superstars and rich kids when you race your Beamer SUV's down to South County or Baja.

Lastly, I try to be considerate of more experienced surfers by picking spots where I won't be in the way. That usually means marginal waves at best, or less popular spots. Adam's forecasts have really helped me get some wave time in without clogging up the obvious spots.

Call me an idiot if you want, but be sure to enjoy that side order of Karma.

Adam Wright said...

Original Anon - No worries man…like I said, I love to get feedback from people both the good and the critical. From your last post I think that you have an incredibly enlightened and considerate approach to your surfing…and I am stoked that I have been able to help out with my forecasts.

My goal, when you boil it down to the absolute minimum, is to help you guys find waves. I try to write my forecasts in a way that lets everyone, from the beginner to the hardcore veteran, have a chance to find surf…but at the same time rewards the guys that have put in their time learning about their spots and how particular swells will affect them. Sometimes this will leave a little ambiguity in the forecast that can lead people into not making the best surf-spot choice…I am sure this has happened to all of us at some time…but the trick is to learn from it.

On the flipside…I do want to know if you did or didn’t find surf, or if the surf was different than what I had forecast…maybe the swell didn’t live up to the forecast, or I did a poor job communicating...If I get the feedback I can work on improving things so that the next time we all get some fun surf.


To answer an earlier question: Do you ever do retrospective analyses to calibrate or validate your models??

As a matter of fact I do. Some of it is even built into my forecasting routine, sort of a “reality vs forecast” validation. It helps that most of the swell for California comes in from storms a ways off the coast...which basically lets me get all of the actual “analysis” data from the ERS-2 or JASON-1 satellites as well as real time buoy information as the swell moves closer.

If a swell comes in a lot bigger/smaller than expected I will go back to the charts and the older satellite-data and try to see where the change was coming from. Did wavewatchIII underestimate winds in this fetch? Did I miss an early part of the storm that would have contributed to the swells energy? How much of a factor did our local shadowing play? Things like that…it is a good practice as a forecaster to study up on past storms…the next time you see similar conditions develop you will be quicker to recognize them.