Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Waves for Wednesday – Did someone order the Macho Combo?

Wednesday will be a surf day…with lots of swell…lots and lots of swell.

Yep the big W-WNW swell (270-300) will be coming on fast tomorrow, showing some already solid surf up through Santa Barbara and Ventura through the morning as well as some decent, but still building, energy further south. Check out the CDIP analysis from Tuesday afternoon/evening…

…you can see that there is already some good energy in the water and the buoys are synching up pretty well too.

I expect the peak of this swell to come through Wednesday afternoon, but due to the size, intensity, and duration of the storm…that peak will hold through Thursday and into early Friday before seeing much of a drop off.

Sizewise…well it will be big…how big is still a little questionable. The wave models LOVE this thing, they are practically humping its leg the love it so much. I have noticed a couple of things though that send up some flags. One is that, even though the wave model likes this swell, there is a pretty significant size range throughout Socal…granted that is usually the case thanks to island shadowing and all that…but the way that it breaks down between the regions makes me think that the peak-energy of the swell is a bit more WNW-NW than purely west. That means that the really large surf will be focusing more on those winter standouts rather and a more democratic westerly direction. This isn’t a totally bad thing…if the swell really comes through solid, a little shadowing will help shave off enough energy that it won’t max out every semi-exposed spot.

The other thing that is a little curious is how the JASON-1 altimeter data looks…fortunately Mark at www.stormsurf.com has put together an awesome tool that overlays the JASON-1 readings on top of the WavewatchIII swell model. (I know…this is a little weather-nerdy). This is a cool thing since it lets us see if the “actual measured wave heights” are matching up to what wavewatchIII “thinks” they will be. Check it out… (and make sure to visit www.stormsurf.com too when you get a chance).

In this case it looks like wavewatchIII is overcalling the energy… that color-band that has the sea heights in feet lined up next to it, that is the JASON data…everything else is the usual wavewatchIII model that everyone looks at. Looking at this chart…it looks like that wavewatchIII is about 4-5’ higher than JASON’s measurements, right in the area where we would like to see them match. This isn’t a total dealbreaker swellwise…it could just mean that the satellite passed through before the swell did…but it is definitely something to keep in mind.

Anyhoo…these are just things that I watch for when a bigger swell is coming through…really at the end of the day once a swell reaches a certain size it is sort of just splitting hairs for most people…double-overhead or triple overhead…both of them are out of the fun-zone.

So back to the actual forecast…here is the CDIP for tomorrow morning.

I am expecting the average W facing breaks to be consistently in the shoulder-overhead range with sets going a couple of feet+ overhead at times…probably a bigger bomb sneaking through the more exposed areas as well. T

The better WNW facing spots, particularly those in the more exposed areas of Ventura, South LA, and South San Diego, will be running consistently overhead to a few feet overhead with some bigger waves mixing in at times. Top WNW-NW facing breaks in those areas will have surf running overhead+ to well overhead fairly consistently with some consistent double-overhead, and possibly bigger, sets mixing in by the afternoon as the tide drops and the swell fills in.

Winds look ok…though the weather will be sort of marginal as some rain moves in from the NW. Look for light/variable to light offshore flow early in the morning and then a gradual onshore shift through lunchtime. The afternoon does not look as clean as the last couple of days…expect W-WNW winds around 10-15 knots holding through sundown…and some scattered showers moving through as well.

Plenty of surf on tap tomorrow…and really it will probably be too much for most of the exposed beach breaks so look for the best shape at the points and reefs that either like big swells, or are protected enough that they won’t get washed out. High tide in the morning will do some funky things as well…so keep that in mind as you pick your spot. I hope you score tomorrow…but please stay safe too.

Make sure to read the regional forecasts for more details on how the swell will affect each county.

Regional/County Forecasts

Santa Barbara Surf Forecast
Ventura County Surf Forecast
Los Angeles County Surf Forecast
Orange County Surf Forecast
San Diego Surf Forecast

Here are the tides…

01/13/2010 Wednesday
01:21AM LST 2.2 L
07:24AM LST 5.8 H
02:50PM LST -0.8 L
09:13PM LST 3.6 H


Anonymous said...

classic forecast; well played

Anonymous said...

Just got out of water in the cardiff area about an hour ago. Mostly walled up and high tidish...going to be good when that tide starts to drop.

Anonymous said...

You're going to need a bigger boat, err board.

Anonymous said...

finally some solid sized surf this year! bigger tomorrow!?