Thursday, March 18, 2010

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 3/18/2010

I totally lied…I said the next long-range forecast update would be on Friday, but then the wind went all stupid on Thursday and before I knew it, poof I had written the long-range forecast…so here you go a day early!

Forecast Overview

The playful combo of WNW-NW energy and S-SW swell will hold into Friday and then start to slowly back down on Saturday. New NW swell moves in and mixes with some background Southern Hemi energy on Sunday (but conditions get a little funky). More SW swell and some spring-y NW energy will be on tap for next week, along with a few more really nice beach-weather days.

Short Range (next 4 days)

The WNW-NW swell will continue to back off but won’t be fading out too fast. The S-SW swell (180-200) will continue to hold as well…so it looks like another fairly fun surf day at the well exposed breaks. Average spots will be in the waist-chest high+ range while the standout breaks see some chest-shoulder high surf and some inconsistent head high sets. Look for the biggest waves at the good combo spots that do a good job with both S and WNW swells. Winds/Weather: Conditions will be clean again on Friday look for light/variable to light offshore winds for the morning and N-NW winds around 10-14 knots for the afternoon.

The WNW-NW swell (285-300) and the S-SW swell (180-210) will drop off a bit more on Saturday…they won’t totally peter out…but expect some of the consistency and size to back off. Most spots will be more in the knee-waist high+ range while the standout S-SW facing breaks, mostly through Orange County and parts of SD, will have some chest-shoulder high surf…maybe even a rare plus set on the lower tides. Winds/Weather: Look for light/variable to light offshore winds early on Saturday…most spots will see pretty clean conditions. NW winds around 10-12 knots build in through the afternoon.

New NW swell (290-300) moves in and mixes with the fading/smaller S-SW swell (180-210) on Sunday. The NW’er is pretty steep so don’t expect that much energy to sneak into spots than don’t have direct 290-degree+ exposure. Most spots will hold in the knee-waist high+ range while the standout NW facing spots, mostly in Ventura, the South Bay, and San Diego, will have some chest-shoulder high+ sets pushing in by the afternoon. Winds/Weather: Unfortunately it looks like Sunday may be a little sloppy…the forecasts aren’t super locked in but they are currently calling for some steady NW winds in the outer waters, possibly developing some sort of eddy circulation. I don’t really trust any of the models right now…so it would probably be best to plan on at least bumpy surf…and then if it comes through cleaner we can be pleasantly surprised.

More WNW-NW energy blends into the mix of swell from the North Pacific. At the same time we have a new SSW-SW swell (200-220) swell filling in with some reaaaaaally long-periods (20-22 second forerunners!) as we move throughout the day…this swell will build more overnight and peak through the middle of the week. Surfwise on Monday we can expect more waist-chest high waves for the average spots…and some chest-shoulder high+ surf at the standouts breaks that can pull in the swell combo. Conditions are a little sketchy…they think some of the wind funkiness from Sunday may carry over into Monday. At this point I would plan on some texture…but hopefully the forecast will clean this up in the next couple of days.


North Pacific
The North Pacific continues to transition into its springtime pattern…high-pressure is building across a lot of the mid-latitudes and the NPAC storm track is shifting further north. There is still a few decent sized low-pressures swirling around but they are now mostly out of the Southern California swell window. The NPAC isn’t 100% shutdown for us…we can still expect a few playful NW swells over the next week or so…but the swell angles are getting pretty steep…mostly above 290-degrees…which really limits which spots will be able to pull in the energy.

We just saw a WNW-NW swell (285-300) that peaked on Wednesday/Thursday…this will slowly back down on Friday and Saturday while some new local windswell starts to increase (along with some local winds). Sunday will be a touch bigger as some new NW swell (290-300) arrives and mixes with some more short-period WNW-NW energy pushing in from a little low just off the California Coast. Conditions don’t look particularly good…but there will be a little more swell in the water.

Further out it looks like a couple of systems that have formed to the north of Hawaii will be sending some NW energy our direction for next week. The first pulse will push in around Tuesday (March 23rd) with some chest-shoulder high surf at the top NW spots, mostly San Diego. The second shot is looking a little bigger…it is coming from this storm setting up over Hawaii in about 4-5 days…

…and if things pull together correctly we would see it arrive on Thursday (March 25) with some chest-head high surf at the standout NW facing spots. We will have to see how things form up over the weekend.

South Pacific
We have a new round of S-SSW swell (180-210) that arrived earlier this week still in the water this afternoon and it looks like it will hold into Friday (March 19). It’s not huge but I do expect some waist-chest high+ sets at the average spots and some shoulder high+ sets at the standout S facing breaks on Friday and then slowly dropping sizes on Saturday and Sunday.

Further out there is a pretty strong looking storm that just tore up a bunch of ocean just to the east of New Zealand…it had some good movement, tracking sort of NNE, and it set up some 45-50 knots of wind in the right part of the storm…unfortunately the system wasn’t quite in our swell window and the parts that were set up right in the middle of the South Pacific Island Shadow.

I do expect some waves from this one…we will see a SW swell (210-220) that arrives with some really long-period energy around Monday (Mar 22) and then the peak of the swell Tuesday/Wednesday (Mar 23-24). This one looks good for inconsistent waist-chest high+ surf for most exposed areas and then some chest-head high+ sets at the standout SW facing spots, mostly in Orange County and San Diego. I am being a little conservative on this swell because it is hard to tell how much energy will manage to sneak through the SPAC island shadow…if we get lucky the swell may come in a little larger than what I have in this forecast. Hopefully I will get some good satellite data from Jason-1 later in the weekend.

After that storm high-pressure sort of flattens out the storm track…so I am not seeing anything super significant in the long-range portion of the charts. One thing to watch is the two cyclones north of New Zealand…I bet we are going to see some nice extra-tropical activity from those when they finally start to push further south over the next several days, which hopefully will mean some new, bigger S-SW swells heading our way for the end of March.

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster

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