Monday, January 4, 2010

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 1/04/2010

Forecast Overview

Small WNW-NW energy moves in on Tuesday and holds through the middle of the week. New, larger WNW swell starts to arrive on Thursday and will set up overhead surf for the top NW spots through Friday and into the upcoming weekend. More overhead WNW surf on tap for next week as well.

Short Range (next 4 days)

New mix of W-WNW swell (275-295) moves in on Tuesday, building slowly throughout the day as it mixes with some weak background S-SW energy. Most spots will start off slow in the knee to occasionally waist high range. Better WNW facing breaks will be more in the knee-chest high range. Standout NW spots, mostly through Ventura in the morning…but filling in further south throughout the day, will have some waist-chest high surf with some inconsistent shoulder high sets on the lower tides. Winds/Weather: Winds look good, mostly light and variable to a mild/moderate offshore flow. Look for stiffer offshore winds through the usual wind prone areas of LA/Ven/SB…and lighter winds in SD and OC. Onshore flow around 8-10+ knots for the afternoon.

The W-WNW combo (280-300 shifting a bit more NW’erly) and weak S-SW swells will hold on Wednesday. Most breaks stay around knee-waist high with some chest high sets. Better WNW-spots see some chest-high+ sets while the standout NW spots stay around waist-shoulder high. Winds/Weather: Still nice on Wednesday…mostly clean conditions with light and variable winds through the morning and only moderate onshore WNW flow around 10-14 knots for the afternoon.

The surf starts to pick up on Thursday thanks to a new WNW swell (280-300) that starts to arrive throughout the day (showing strongest by the afternoon). For the morning wave heights will get a little bump in size thanks to a preceding short-period WNW’er (280-300)…most spots will be in the waist-chest high range. The top NW spots will be around chest-shoulder high on the sets. The bigger WNW pulse will start sending in some really long-period energy (19-20 second stuff) by the afternoon and it looks like the spots that can focus that sort of energy will have some chest-head high surf by the end of the day…possibly even bigger at the top NW standouts up around Ventura (since it is located a little further off to the NW). Winds/Weather: mostly clean conditions with light and variable winds through the morning and only moderate onshore WNW flow around 10-14 knots for the afternoon.

At this point Friday is definitely going to be a surf day. The W-WNW swell (270-300) that started hitting on Thursday will fill in more overnight and peak Friday morning. The swell direction is pretty broad (since the storm was pretty large scale) but it looks like the peak direction is going to be around the 280-300 range (probably really 285-300), which means that the WNW-NW facing spots will be the best and the W facing spots, while they will have surf, will be a bit smaller thanks to swell shadowing. Fortunately it looks like a pretty big swell…most of the average W-WNW facing breaks will be in the chest-head high range. The better WNW spots will be more consistently in the shoulder-overhead+ range with sets going a couple of feet overhead on the better tides. Standout NW spots, mostly in Ventura, San Diego, and the South Bay, will be running consistently head high to overhead+ but with some sets going a few feet+ overhead at times. Winds/Weather: Winds and weather look good…NE winds around 10-15 knots are expected to develop through the morning and stay light onshore to light and variable by the afternoon.


North Pacific
The fun continues in the North Pacific forecast this week…the hyper NPAC storm track continues to sit across the mid-latitudes cranking out swell. Sure there are a few little gaps between the bigger storms but overall it hasn’t gone totally flat for longer than a couple of days for a while now.

This week we will start off a little slow…fading energy from the weekend dropped off fast on Monday but there is a smaller pulse of WNW-NW energy (280-300) that will move in on Tuesday and hold into Wednesday. This is actually the mix of a couple of different swells but they should be able to blend pretty well. The only bummer is that this storm looked a little better last long-range forecast but it failed to produce much energy in a useable swell direction (a lot of the energy is too north). Anyway…it will keep us in rideable if sort of small/soft waves through the middle of the week.

The next swell, the one that starts filling in Late Thursday (peaking Friday and into Saturday) looks pretty good. This storm is currently spinning just North of Hawaii and it will be putting the finishing touches on the WNW swell over the next 30 or so hours. Check it out…

That is a fairly large low pressure…with a substantial fetch set up right in our WNW swell window. Here it is on the Visible Satellite image.

And on the WINDSAT (a replacement data set for the QUIKSCAT that I had used in the past).

And finally…how the wavewatchIII model is expecting all of that lovely wind to create.

At this point it looks like a head high to well-overhead W-WNW swell filling in with long-period energy later on Thursday and then the peak of the swell hitting throughout Socal on Friday (Jan 8). The energy will hold into early Saturday and then start to drop off slightly on Sunday.

Further out looking at the forecast charts it looks like that WNW swell will continue into early next week…though this part of the swell hasn’t formed yet. Based on today’s forecast run it looks like a following set of low-pressures will send in more overlapping energy that will jump on the tail of the first swell holding solid overhead+ surf at the top spots through at least early next week…but possibly through the middle of next week.

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 week, with more heading in for the upcoming 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, January 7th, 2010

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster


Anonymous said...

dude, i love you, man! love reading these reports!!! when the reports call for surf I get so dang stoked for tomorrow mornings dawn patrol i just want to go to bed now and sleep until the sweet morning ride! if you were a woman, I'd be a serious stalker, bro!

DamienB said...