Monday, December 21, 2009

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 12/21/2009

Forecast Overview

Looks like steady, overlapping W-WNW-NW swells will continue to push in as we move throughout the week. Winds and weather will get a little funky on Tuesday as the first swell peaks but conditions should clean up fast letting us get back into groomed shape by Thursday. Look for some small S-SSW swell to hang in the background for the next few days and then a slightly stronger shot of S swell to arrive as we head into next weekend.

Short Range (next 3 days)

Is not looking like a surf day. In fact it is looking downright ugly. A dry-cold front is expect to spin up NW winds and windswell to mix with the medium/short-period W-WNW energy that we saw come up on Monday. Wave heights will be in the chest-head high range for most exposed spots while top spots go a couple of feet overhead, but unfortunately shape is going to be pretty poor almost everywhere due to the stiff onshore W-WNW winds that snap through around 15-20 knots throughout the day. Winds/Weather: Breezy, cold, and onshore conditions will be on tap through the morning. Look for W-WNW winds around 10-15 knots early…and then gusts hitting 15-20+ knots by the afternoon.

Still looks a little lumpy on Wednesday but conditions should clean up in a few areas, particularly around Orange and San Diego Counties. Our W-WNW swell mix will continue to hold with plenty of local windswell and some longer-period NW swell (290-300) that will fill later in the day. Small SSW swell will hold through the background. Most spots will continue to see chunky, stacked up chest-shoulder high surf with some bigger sets mixing in at spots that like the windswell shape. Top NW facing breaks, mostly through Ventura, the South Bay, and San Diego will have shoulder-overhead surf with some sets going a couple of feet overhead at times. Winds/Weather: Winds are forecast to shift out of the NNW for Santa Barbara and Ventura (which leaves some cleaner conditions here and there.) Down in LA, OC and SD, the winds will be more Northerly, which will put sideshore to offshore flow along most breaks. I don’t think it will be super clean, particularly since the swell will be lumpy, but it won’t be the hacked up mess that rolled through on Tuesday.

Will see a mix of fading WNW energy (that wind/stormswell mix), some new WNW-NW swell (285-300) that fills in a little more and gets a little more WNW’erly, as well as another boost of background S swell (175-190). Most spots are going to continue to run in the playful waist-chest high range while the top NW facing breaks see some chest-head high surf. Winds/Weather: New ridge of high-pressure is expected to build in on Thursday, pushing the morning winds into a light offshore flow and starting to warm up air temps again. Look for clean conditions in the morning and light to mild winds on tap for the afternoon.

Christmas Friday
Looks like Santa is going to bring us a fun pulse of combo swell…we will have a new W-WNW swell (275-300), some local windswell, and some S swell (175-190). At this point it looks like a little bit of a slow start to the morning but the swell mix will fill in more as we move throughout the day. Most spots will continue to be playful in the waist-chest high range with some occasional shoulder high peaks as the swells blend together. Top WNW-NW facing breaks and the best NW combo spots, will be in the chest-head high range with some overhead+ sets mixing as well. The bigger waves will be a little inconsistent but there should be enough inbetweeners for you to try out the new board that santa got you. Winds/Weather: Clean conditions with light-variable to light-offshore flow in the morning. Some weak to moderate W-WNW winds around 8-10 knots develop through the afternoon.


North Pacific
Lots and lots of storm activity lining up in the North Pacific…I know I said it last week but this winter is so much better than last year that it is getting comical. Check this out…I pulled the wavewatchIII swell charts and stacked them up into one image and dropped numbers on each of the swell events that it has in the forecast. Currently it is showing 6 different swells that will blend in pretty much a long string of surf that will stretch through the end of 2009 and probably into the first few days of 2010.

To get a little more detailed…right now I am for sure expecting a mix of W-WNW wind/storm swell that will pulse up on Monday, peak overnight into Tuesday, and then start a slow fade through Wednesday/Thursday. This one looks good for head high to overhead surf at the top spots but will have some wind issues as a cold-front rolls through.

The next swell following this first batch will arrive throughout the day on Christmas…it will be another WNW-NW swell (275-300 but with most of the energy around 285-300) that comes through with some longer swell periods. Looks good for chest-shoulder waves at most WNW-NW spots and some inconsistent overhead sets at the top NW breaks.

Further out, check out swell #4 on those images…yeah the dark red one. The wind/swell models have been showing that forming for a few days now and they seem to really like it despite the fact that the winds aren’t incredibly strong. I am a little skeptical on what they are calling for size…but I do think at minimum we are going to get some fun surf from it. Look for this swell to start to arrive and peak on Dec 27th with surf running shoulder-head high at average WNW spots and overhead+ waves at the standouts. This one looks like it will send out some very long-period energy, 20-22 second stuff, so it may be a bit funky as it arrives and refracts all over Socal, we will have to wait and see how it really develops.

Even further out into the long-range it looks like we will see another pulse of WNW swell around Dec 30th…and possibly another shot that arrives in the first couple days of January…these are way out on the charts, but like I usually say…it sure is nice to see them on the charts.

South Pacific
Most of the South Pacific is still pretty boring…mostly just the summer laziness that sets up down there while it is out of storm season…but there was one area of decent looking fetch that spun up straight South of Socal a few days ago. Check it out on the windsat data from MOST (the Marine Observing Systems Team…it almost sounds like a super hero group...actually when you think about it they control awesome satellites, have the ability to launch rockets, and can ask astronauts to give them a hand...they are a super hero group!).

Anyway this fetch hung around in a decent position for a couple of days and it looks like we are going to see some playful chest-shoulder high S swell (175-190) that arrives on the 25-26th. I am not sure how consistent it will be, since the storm wasn’t that intense and it was sort of moving at a weird angle (not directly towards us which would have been the best). Still it looks like some fun surf at the better s-facing spots…and maybe even some fun combo peaks as it mixes with the steady WNW-NW energy.

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster


Anonymous said...

Wow - how did it get so big today? What a crazy scene - sort of a like a combo CT/QS contest. Somebody called every guy gearing up for next season to come out for the cameras.

Anonymous said...

Help adam,
what part of most do I go to get those images now that Quickscat is whiter than casper the ghost?
I am frothing!