Thursday, December 31, 2009

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 12/31/2009

Happy New Year’s!

Forecast Overview

Surfwise we will have a good start to 2010 thanks to a very active North Pacific. Overlapping W-WNW swells will push in over the next few days mixing with some decent winds and some much smaller S-SW pulses. Looks like more storms are brewing in the forecast charts…so expect more surf rolling through most of next week and a potentially bigger shot of WNW energy around the 9th. (2010…holy future batman…It just hit me that my first son will graduate from high school in 2023! that is, unless we are still fighting skynet…crazy)

Short Range (next 4 days)

Friday – New Year’s Day 2010
WNW-NW swell (285-300) holds on Friday…mixing with some much smaller S-SW pulses. The morning is going to be really swampy with a 6.5’+ high tide hitting around 8:45am. Most spots will be in the waist-chest high range with some inconsistent shoulder high sets on the lower tides. The standout NW facing breaks will be in the chest-head high range with some overhead sets coming through on the lower tides. Winds/Weather: Look for mostly light and variable to light offshore winds through the morning. NW winds around 10-15 knots move in through the afternoon but may try to lay down later in the evening.

Another shot of WNW energy (this one more in the 280-300 range) arrives on Saturday and mixes with the fading WNW-NW energy from earlier in the week. Small S-SW pulses (170-185 and 210-220) hold in the background. The morning tide will still be an issue but as the peak pushes back to 9:30am there may be a little more of a dawn patrol window opening. Average spots will get a little more size…more chest-shoulder high on the lower tides. The better WNW facing breaks will be in the chest-head high range while the standout NW breaks (mostly in San Diego, Ventura, and the South Bay) will be in the shoulder-head high+ range with a few overhead+ sets mixing in on the lower afternoon tides. Winds/Weather: Still pretty nice with variable/offshore winds in the morning and NW winds around 10-14 knots for the afternoon.

The WNW mix (280-300) starts to lose a little steam but still puts up plenty of waves. The high tide will still be bothering the morning/mid-morning but it will be both smaller is size and its peak will be further back to about 10:15…so again it looks like more of an earlier morning window opening. Sizewise we can expect more chest-shoulder high surf at the average WNW facing breaks. Standout NW spots see consistent chest-head high surf with some low-tide sets going overhead at times. Winds/Weather: Still pretty good…mostly light and variable morning winds but with a bit more NW flow setting up around Santa Barbara and Ventura. Look for increasing WNW-winds around 10-18 knots by the afternoon.

The WNW energy will back off fast…not completely dropping out but it will feel considerably smaller than Sunday. Most spots will back down into the knee-waist high range with some chest high sets. Standout NW facing breaks will be more in the waist-chest high range but with a few shoulder high sets on the lower tides in the early morning. Winds/Weather: Weather will be breaking down a bit by early next week…nothing horrible but it looks like a variable onshore texture picking up pretty early in the day and then moderate onshore flow around 12-18 knots by the afternoon.


North Pacific
Like I mentioned in the overview…this has already been a pretty good winter…and it looks like our good wave fortune is going to continue into the early part of the new year. The North Pacific continues to be an extremely active ocean, with several well positioned storms moving or forecasted to move through our swell window over the next week. The storm track is operating right across the edge of the mid-latitudes which means that storms that spin off of Asia track across the North Pacific spending the majority of their time “over-water” in our swell window. In the past couple of seasons the storm track has been positioned much closer to the Aleutians which forced storms to drop down to send us surf…here check out the current set up…you can see the wind arrows tracking across the NPAC below the 300-degree swell-direction cutoff that we have in Socal.

And here is the wave heights set up by those winds…

As you can see the storms are stacking up across the Pacific…which means that we will be seeing more WNW swell on the way. We have a couple of overlapping WNW swells that hit Friday and into the weekend…nothing huge but good enough for some overhead waves at the standout NW breaks, particularly at spots that like the medium/short period swell energy. These waves will start to fade Sunday afternoon and continue to drop through Monday.

A new shot of W-WNW swell moves in on the 5th again setting up a round of playful chest-head high surf at the WNW facing spots and overhead sets at the standout NW breaks. These will hold through the 6th and then fade slowly through the 7-8th as a following, but smaller WNW pulse keeps the surf from dropping too fast.

Further out that big blob of low-pressure North of Hawaii continues to cycle through mid-latitude storms, and the next intense looking system will likely come through in about 4-5 days…if it lives up to forecasts we could be looking at another solid shot of WNW energy for around the 9-10th.

South Pacific
The South Pacific isn’t totally shut down anymore…we are starting to see a couple of active hot spots brewing up around Antarctica that will be sending us some small, but at least rideable, S-SW swells from the SPAC. One area is the usually active region SE of New Zealand, which is showing some decent 30-40 knots of fetch forming over the next few days that could have some new SW swell on our beaches around Jan 10th.

Unfortunately that swell has to pass through the SPAC islands shadow (around Tahiti) so a lot of the size and consistency are going to get chewed out of it…still anything is better than the snoozefest that we had through the end of the 2009.

The other spot worth keeping an eye on is directly south of Southern California…a ridge of pressure across the SSW portion of our swell window has this stretch of ocean doing some weird (in a good way) things. The way the ridge is positioned it lets storms slip up around the 120W longitude line and push fairly northward before sliding over towards Chile. These storms are sending out a few small, but rideable pulses of S-SSE swell (170-190) that have hit over the last week or so. It looks like more is on the way for this upcoming weekend and for a lot of next week, with more heading in for the following weekend. Again nothing to get super excited about but it should keep a little cross up energy showing at the combo breaks.

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Thurday, December 31st, 2009

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

dam your good at what you do.