Thursday, December 24, 2009

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 12/24/2009

Forecast Overview

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Looks like we are going to have some fun surf for the next few days…a new round of playful WNW swell moves in on Christmas and mixes with some smaller S swell. This will drop a little on Saturday but remain fun-sized and rideable. A bigger W-WNW swell hits on Sunday and will hold waves through Monday and the first part of next week.

Short Range (next 4 days)

Friday – Christmas Day
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). 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 mostly through San Diego, 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.

The WNW swell (now 285-300) that filled in on Christmas will be losing a little steam, while the weaker S swell holds in the background. Most spots will have surf in the waist-chest high range with some rare shoulder high waves. Standout NW facing breaks will continue to see shoulder-head high surf with some much less consistent head high+ sets mixing in. Winds/Weather: Look for clean conditions for the morning with mostly light and variable winds. Building onshore bump around 10-14 knots out of the WNW will push in through the afternoon.

New W-WNW swell (275-300) sends in some more consistent and larger surf as we move through the dawn patrol…with both the size and the consistency of the bigger sets increasing as we head toward the afternoon. Look for most W-WNW facing breaks to see shoulder-overhead surf while the standout NW breaks, mostly in Ventura, the South Bay, and San Diego, see consistently head high to a couple of feet overhead surf and some bigger sets going a few feet overhead (possibly bigger down toward Southern SD). Winds/Weather: Winds and weather look decent, more light and variable conditions early in the day and only moderate onshore bump (around 10-12 knots) for the afternoon.

Overall surf heights look about the same as Sunday as the W-WNW swell peaks and possibly pulls in a little more short-period energy thanks to a local cold front that moves through the area. Right now I am a little iffy on the size increase but the potential is there. At this point expect more shoulder-overhead surf for the average spots and sets going a few feet overhead at the top spots. Winds/Weather: Getting a little funky, chance of rain and some increasing onshore winds as the cold front moves in. This may end up being sort of a mild-moderate front so winds may not be too bad…but I would definitely keep in mind that conditions won’t be as good as the weekend.


North Pacific
Still lots of storm and swell activity setting up in the long-range forecast…as you read in the short-range there is a solid looking WNW swell (275-300) that arrives on Sunday Dec 27 and begins peaking that night and holding strong (if not bigger) into Dec 28. Weather nerd warning: Here is a little video that I put together showing the storm on the NOAA/GOES satellites…since I have some new screen capture software you can see the mouse moving around. I would watch it in HD if you the HD button on the player.

The most important things that I was looking for in that animation was the position, movement track, and the overall size of this system…as you watch the video you can see me engage the lat/long overlay that helps me estimate all three. Further in the video I pick the HDW-Low winds (which are the High-Density Satellite Derived winds from 0-10,000) and see what they have been estimating. Lastly I pull in the image through the zoom feature, which is nice to get a closer look at the circulation of the storm. In particular I am looking at the clouds behind the front of the storm…these are pretty shredded and almost look like a bunch of fast moving cotton balls or popcorn...these are a good thing to see because it means that the wind throughout that part of the storm is blowing from the upper atmosphere all the way down to the surface, which is where it produces our surf. The more shredded the warmer, lower level clouds (the dark grey, which equals warmer stuff in the IR), the more the wind is getting time over the water.

In comparing these satellite images against the WINDSAT data, the GFS wind/weather model, as well as the wavewatchIII model it looks like everything is in pretty good agreement with this storm.

From a surf perspective, I am seeing decent circulation and size for that storm but it stopped tracking East and is now sort holding position just on the edge of the Gulf of Alaska. This isn’t a totally horrible thing but it does mean that the really intense part of the storm won’t get much closer to Socal, which means more swell decay as the energy moves toward us, which eventually means smaller surf.

Based on all of this…I am still expecting the swell to arrive in Socal late on Saturday night and be filling in by morning on the 27th…most exposed spots should have new waves for the dawn patrol but won’t see the biggest size until later in the afternoon/evening. By then we can expect almost all W-WNW facing breaks to have surf in the shoulder-head high range with some less consistent overhead faces sneaking in at times. The standout NW facing breaks will be running consistently head high with sets hitting a couple feet to a few feet overhead. The best deepwater breaks down toward Southern SD may have some bigger sets. This swell looks like it will peak overnight into Monday but may have some wind/weather problems as a local cold front moves into the area.

Further Out there are still a couple of storms showing in the long-range charts (though not as intense as the storm we currently have running through the NPAC). If these pull together the way the forecast thinks they will we should see more WNW energy around the 31st and possibly through the first few days of 2010.

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 about a week ago.

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 Monday, December 28th, 2009

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster


Anonymous said...

merry christmas, dude, merry christmas!!!

Jonathan M said...

happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Don't be pc, bro.

Marc said...


love your forecasts, just discovered them

i'm taking a meteorology course next quarter so maybe i'll start to understand this stuff!

Jonny said...

You freakin rock Adam. I feel like i know you so well, even though we've never met ha. Merry Christmas and thanks for all the work!!

Anonymous said...

Christmas presents on their way. Thanks for the forecast. Where do you find the CDIP forecast models? I have googled my way to confusion...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

NO the cdip forecast models???

Anonymous said...

all the models can be found from this page; I will only come to your house to guide your hand over the mouse if (a) you are a hot, large breasted woman and (b) . . . well, (a) works for me . . . .

Anonymous said...

central sd was on this morning. fun, fun, fun!

Adam Wright said...

Thanks for the Christmas wishes guys!

Here are those forecast charts from CDIP...

Anonymous said...

thanks AW for that and all you do.