Thursday, March 4, 2010

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 3/04/2010

Forecast Overview

WNW-NW energy fades as we head into the weekend...(though the small SW pulse in the background will continue to limp along.) It won't go totally flat but the swell that was set to move in this weekend is now looking a bit smaller thanks to building high pressure and to make matters worse we will get the weather without most of the waves this time (suck it weather). Expect some WNW-NW energy to pulse up slightly on Sunday as conditions clean up...and we can expect a couple of small/playful days through the early part of next week.

Short Range (next 4 days)

The WNW-NW energy (285-300) will back down more on Friday as we see the tail end of the swell. Small SW swell (200-220) will continue to sort of limp in through the background. Look for most WNW facing spots to see chest-shoulder high surf and top spots, mostly in San Diego, to see some inconsistent head+ sets. Winds/Weather: Yet another cold front is expected to move in late on Friday but most of the daylight hours we should see light winds. Expect light and variable conditions for Friday morning and then sort of a variable onshore flow below 10+ knots for the afternoon. S-SW winds 15-25 knots and heavy rain are forecast to move in after midnight.

Right now it looks like Saturday is going to be wet and small (always a good combo). Another rainy day but without much of the storm swell that we have had with previous storms. A lot is going to depend on what direction the cold-front makes it final approach to Socal…if it comes in more SW-W then we will have some bigger storm swell coming with it. If it moves in from the NW it won’t have enough fetch in our swell window to do much swell production. Right now the forecasts are calling more for the NW track…so I think that the surf is going to be on the small side. Average spots can expect surf in the knee-chest high range while the standout NW facing breaks, mostly in South SD, will have some shoulder-high+ sets by Saturday afternoon. Winds/Weather: Looks like S-SW winds around 10-14 knots for most areas, maybe a little lighter up around Santa Barbara. Expect rain and plenty of onshore bump for the morning. SW-W winds push in 10-20 knots by the afternoon. Rain tapers off later in the day.

Things will get a bit more organized and we will have a little more WNW swell mixing in on top of the sloppy W-NW windswell. Look for most spots to hold around waist-chest high with some inconsistent shoulder high sets at the breaks with some SW exposure (did I mention there would be more background SW swell?). Standout NW breaks and excellent combo spots will have surf in the chest-shoulder high range with some inconsistent shoulder-head high sets mixing in on the lower tides. Winds/Weather: High-pressure starts to build back in on Sunday…setting up cleaner conditions for the morning. Look for light and variable to light-offshore for most areas…with a little SE flow through San Diego. WNW-NW winds 10-18 knots move in through the afternoon.

The mix of WNW-NW swell, local windswell, and the background SW swell will continue to hold…with everything sort of swirling around as weak reinforcements moving in to backstop the earlier energy from the weekend. Most spots will continue to hold around knee-chest high with some inconsistent shoulder high sets showing on the lower tides. The standout NW facing breaks will be a little bigger but don’t expect a ton more size…just a little more consistency out of the shoulder high+ sets. Winds/Weather: Look for another clean morning…mostly light and variable winds through the first part of the day. NW winds setting up through midday and then NW winds 10-15 knots blowing through the afternoon.


North Pacific
So the long-range charts took a giant poop the last couple of days…there are still a few decent sized storms forecast to push through the North Pacific but a much bigger high-pressure is forecast to strengthen to the N-NE of Hawaii that is set to plug up part of the mid-latitude storm track that has been sending us so much love.

The immediate effect of this high-pressure is to completely gut the incoming storm/swell for the weekend. A couple of days ago it looked like this close-proximity storm would have some space to set up a stronger pulse of W-NW storm swell as it headed our way. Now this storm will be shifted further north, outside of our swell window, which is going to drop surf heights quite a bit. I am still expecting some head high surf at the best NW standouts, but that is a lot smaller than what the forecast had a few days ago.

Further out it looks like a mix of steeply angled NW swell (290-300) and NW windswell will fill in late on Monday (March 8) with some knee-chest high surf at the average spots and a few shoulder high sets at the standouts. This will strengthen a bit more Tuesday/Wednesday but it looks like local winds will increase as well (which means springtime suckiness might be just around the corner).

Hopefully this is just the model getting all tweaky…and not the end to this radical winter…but we are getting on in the season, so don’t be surprised when the NPAC swells getting less and less consistent.

South Pacific
The SPAC, despite showing some promise in the last few days of forecast runs hasn’t really been able to produce anything all that impressive. There are a few small SW pulses that have been kicked out but nothing that will do much to break-up or push through the much more dominant NPAC energy. We can expect a mix of SW swell (200-220) that shows knee-high+ waves at the well exposed spots for most of this week…with a slightly bigger reinforcement (more knee-waist high+) moving in Thursday and Friday before fading out on Saturday. This trend will continue through to Monday (March 8) where we will see yet another small pulse of energy arrive.

Further out the long-range charts are teasing us with yet another potential storm…possibly forming up in the next 2 days that could send another SSW-SW pulse our direction for around the 16-17th. This one is looking better than the last forecast which is nice since the NPAC is starting to cool off. Even further out it looks like a better storm may form up early next week that could have a bigger SSW-SW pulse headed our way for March 18-20th….nothing set in stone but worth watching over the weekend.

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Monday, March 8th, 2010.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster


Anonymous said...

"but we are getting on in the season, so don’t be surprised when the NPAC swells getting less and less consistent."

Are you trying to let us down gently? It's okay; just say it. Winter is over.

Anonymous said...

i has a sad.