Monday, November 30, 2009

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 11/30/2009

Forecast Overview

Not a super exciting week…we will see a mix of overlapping but mostly weak WNW-NW swell activity (and some background SW energy) filtering through most of the week…gradually backing down as we head towards Thursday. Conditions look nice, mostly clean mornings and sunny skies. Long-range charts are showing some promise…if things go right we could be looking a bigger WNW swell about a week into December.

Short Range (next 3 days)

We will have a mix of fading WNW swell (280-300) dropping off from the weekend, some trace SW energy (200-220), and some new NW swell (295-300) showing at only a handful of select spots. Look for the average spots to hold in the knee-waist high range with some rare waist high+ sets on the lower tides. Top NW facing spots, mostly through San Diego, will have some waist-chest high surf with some inconsistent chest-shoulder high sets on the lower tide. Winds/Weather: Look for clean conditions with mostly light and variable to light offshore winds for the morning. NW winds around 10-12 knots move in through the afternoon.

The surf continues to hold on the small side as we see more of the leftover WNW energy and smaller/steeper NW swell (295-300). Look for most spots to hold in the knee-high+ rnage while the standout NW facing breaks, again mostly in San Diego, see some waist-chest high sets. Expect mostly slow/soft surf, particularly on the higher tides. Winds/Weather: Nice conditions again with more light and variable to light offshore winds for the morning and only minor NW flow 8-12 knots building in through the afternoon.

Weak waves continue through Thursday…the surf continues to pulse in from the WNW-NW (290-300) while we see minor energy from the SW (200-220). Knee high+ surf will show at the average exposed breaks with a few waist high sets setting up at spots that can combo up the swell mix a little better. Standout NW facing breaks will hold in the knee-waist high range with some chest high sets still showing in the mix at times. Expect mostly slow/soft shape to continue. Winds/Weather: Naturally, since we don’t have a lot of surf, the conditions will remain nice…more light/variable to light-offshore flow for the morning and then NW winds around 10-12 knots by mid-afternoon.


North Pacific
The storm activity in the NPAC has taken a little bit of a break...over the last few days there have been a few storms but most of them have been too far north and outside of Socal’s swell window. These systems are the ones that will keep some marginal NW energy showing most of this week. Fortunately this trend is not forecast to last long…already the extended wind models are showing some new, much stronger, and better positioned, storm activity to form in the next 4-6 days that will have more WNW-NW swell heading our way…likely starting to increase our surf on the Dec 7th but peaking with a larger WNW swell around the 10th (Hawaii may see a large swell a couple of days earlier). Check out the charts…

Since these storms are still several days from forming it is a little early to get a good read on the size…but based on today’s forecasts the first pulse on the 7-8th should be around chest-shoulder high at the top breaks…while the more intense-looking shot of WNW energy that hits around the 10th will likely send in some more overhead surf to the top spots. Make sure to check the next Long-range forecast (on Thursday) I will have a bit clearer picture of those upcoming swells.

South Pacific
Is this still an ocean? Has the SPAC turned into a lake? It sure feels like it…but no…it isn’t a lake. There will continue to be the small, inconsistent, background noise coming in from the SW (200-220) generated by a nearly never-ending stretch of fetch that has been hanging around New Zealand. Non of these swells look like they will get over knee-waist high, even at the top breaks, so they barely qualify as rideable. Long-range charts don’t show many changes but the waaaaay out 5-6 day charts are suggesting a slightly bigger SSW pulse around the middle of December…yes, I am so pumped I can barely contain myself. (I hope you detect the sarcasm cause I am laying it on pretty thick).

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster


Autumn said...

Hey can you tell me the true point breaks in southern california? What is the difference between point, reef, etc... I heard places like Salt Creek, Trestles etc.. are not true points!!! Thanks!

Adam Wright said...


Creek and Lowers (well really all of the quality Trestles waves) are not “classic” point breaks in the purest definition of the term. Creek in particular is more of a reef break than anything. Trestles (uppers, lowers, and cottons) is more of a reef/point break combo where the different breaks share some properties of both types of breaks.

A true point break is where the natural shape of the coastline defines how the wave breaks.

The topography (and bathometry) of a Point the coastline is curved, almost bending back on itself before straightening out as you move away from the point (obviously this differs greatly from reality but in a perfect world this would be the case). Essentially the water depth is pretty much static along the length of the point…so for example if you walked out 100-feet from shore, at the top of the point, the water depth would be 10-feet deep. If you did the same thing halfway down the point the water depth would still be 10-feet deep, and so on.

The difference, that causes the point to work, is how that “depth” is positioned…since the coastline is curved it doesn’t allow the swell (if it is coming from the right direction) to hit the magic depth at the same time. Instead the swell hits the top of the point first and starts to break. Then it travels down the length of the point breaking as its energy finds the depth. The best points will have the perfect sea-floor shape that forces the wave to break in a consistent manner, stringing it along the point at a rideable speed.

Here is the kicker…most point breaks require a particular mix of swell direction, size, and swell period for the point to really go off. The best points will be more tolerant in terms of the swell and will consistently work off a wider scope of swells and swell periods.

Ok…so I got a little off topic there…back to Trestles. Trestles, in particular Lowers, has a bit of bend in the beach, (called San Mateo Point), but it isn’t as defined as some of the classic points. So with the bend in the beach it has some natural “point break” qualities but it has a ton of rocks (and sometimes sand that fills in the gaps) to help complete the point-like bathometry. Salt Creek is pretty similar in that respect but with even less of a “bend” in the beach.

To answer your question about the pure California points…I would consider the most well known to be spots like Rincon, the inside section at Malibu, and C-street. There are a bunch of other, smaller ones, but those would be the most famous.

Hope this makes sense and answers your questions…


Pezman said...

Adam, I'm contemplating a trip to Hawaii to document next week's monster swell (Eddie running?) but I've been looking at the weather models and concerned that the system might bring cheese winds with it.

Do you think it would be a better bet to stay here in SoCal and hope to get this swell here at home? It has the makings of a classic here too but I need advice on which spot would be the better call.

Adam Wright said...


It is sort of hard call right this point the weather looks a little squishy for both regions.

Hawaii may end up having the better winds, but the swell is going to be really raw as it peaks, (lots of the different swell periods will be stacked on top of each other), since the storm is pretty close to the islands.

California will have some chance for the swell to groom out and decay a bit but the LR charts are showing some weird weather activity along our coast from some other, much smaller storm fronts.

Right now I don't think I would let the quality of the surf/weather totally dictate which spot I would pick...they are both going to be big (well Hawaii and NorCal)...I would probably start weighing the pros/cons of traveling (Costs, hassles, ect) and make the early decision on those factors...and then of course rethink things if conditions improve for one region or the other.

Just my 2-cents.

Autumn said...

Thanks so much! Very very helpful! My husband surfed C-street few weeks ago, said it was awesome! Some girls want to do Malibu, just don't want to deal with the crowds :)