Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 3/23/2010

Forecast Overview

The mix of SW and NW swell will hold for the next few days…possibly building in a little more from the WNW-NW by Friday while the SW swell fades out. Look for more combo swell over the weekend…and if the North Pacific has its way…we will probably see even more WNW/S-SW combo through most of next week as well.

Short Range (next 4 days)

The SW swell (200-220) and the NW swell (290-300) will hold on Wednesday…and there will even be a little more NW energy (295-300) from an ok, but poorly positioned storm in the Gulf of Alaska. Look for most exposed spots to be in the waist-chest high range with some inconsistent bigger sets showing on the lower tides. The standout SW facing spots and the excellent combo breaks, will have surf in the chest-shoulder high range with a few head high sets mixing in as well. Winds/Weather: Winds look good on Wednesday…the eddy cycles down a touch and we will start off with mostly light and variable winds for most areas as well as some pockets of patchy fog. This will burn off by the afternoon but the winds will shift onshore around 10-15 knots at the really exposed breaks.

The mix of SW swell and NW energy will hold on Thursday… with the SW’er dropping slightly and the NW swell (290-300) getting a little boost from another pulse of energy coming out of the Gulf of Alaska. Wave heights will average in the waist-chest high range at most exposed spots. The standout NW/SW combo spots will be in the chest-shoulder high range with some inconsistent head high+ sets sneaking at times. Winds/Weather: The wind looks a little iffy on Thursday…the various models are calling for increasing winds in the outer waters that are supposed to spin up the eddy a little more. Not sure how bad it will be at this point, but plan on there being some texture on the water for most spots…SB/Ventura will have more W-NW’erly flow while LA on down to the border get a variable/southerly tint to the bump. Hopefully things will stay pretty light…but don’t hold your breath waiting for glassy conditions.

Look for the SW/NW swell mix to continue through the morning on Friday...with most spots holding around waist-high+ on the sets with the standouts seeing some shoulder high+ sets. Later in the afternoon it looks like a new pulse of WNW-NW swell (280-300) may roll in…this is coming off a storm that is just forming on the edge of the Gulf of Alaska…so the swell isn’t totally carved in stone. If the swell comes in with some decent energy we will see the WNW-NW facing spots get a little bigger and more consistent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some overhead sets hitting the top NW spots in Ventura, the South Bay, and Southern San Diego around sundown. Winds/Weather: Still a bit funky…the eddy is supposed to still be sticking around but it may position itself a bit closer to the coast which would help to ease some of the morning tweakiness. Expect some W-SW winds around 5 knots for most areas and some stronger gusts up around SB and Ventura. By the afternoon 10-15+ WNW-NW winds will push into most areas.

WNW-NW energy will back down on Saturday while the S-SW swell fades into the background as well. Look for most spots to hold in the waist-chest high+ range while the standout NW facing spots (and excellent combo spots) see some shoulder-head high surf. A few of the best breaks, mostly in South SD, will have some bigger sets…going a little overhead...during the morning. Winds/Weather: Winds are forecast to improve on Saturday...the eddy is supposed to shake itself off which would let our local winds go back to light/variable to light-offshore through the morning, and then just moderate W-WNW winds around 10-12 for the afternoon.


North Pacific
The NPAC storm refuses to just cool off…everytime it looks like storm activity is going to trail off and die it pulls itself back together and throws a bunch of storms right back into the forecast model. It is like a zombie…even though the real “life” is gone the storm track continues to spit out some decent looking low-pressures. Oh it isn’t setting up any sort of legit winter-strength storms…they are mostly weaker high-latitude systems…but they do look like they will send in some playful WNW-NW swell for Socal next week. Check out the wavewatchIII chart…the sucker just won’t stop.

Surfwise, since these storms aren’t really all that strong and they aren’t positioned that great (at least for the majority of Socal), I am not expecting any sort of big swell…just a series of chest-should high NW pulses (290-300) that filter through over the next few days. A bigger burst of WNW-NW energy (280-300) moves in on Friday and holds overnight into Saturday morning with some more consistent shoulder-head high surf at the better breaks and some overhead sets at the standouts.

Further out if the forecasts are on track, (and not out trying to eat someone’s brains), then we will see a decent WNW-NW swell (285-300) that would hit on Monday/Tuesday and bring in more chest-head high surf for the good winter spots and some overhead sets at the standouts. This one still has a ways to go before it really develops.

Even further out the GFS/wavewatchIII model really like a storm waaaaaaaaay out on the charts….check out the crack it is smoking…

…while it is nice to see some storm activity on the charts…I don’t put a lot of stock into something like this. With the seasons changing the long-range data becomes increasingly unstable the further out you go…and 6 ½ days is a ways out there. If things did pull together the way this chart wants them too we would see another round of WNW-NW swell hitting right around the beginning of April. I will definitely be keeping an eye on this one...hopefully it will still be on the charts a few days from now.

South Pacific
The SPAC continues to get more active…but there are some pretty big gaps between storms traveling through our swell window. We have a SW swell (210-220) already showing here in Socal that will peak tonight and hold into Wednesday before fading out slowly through the weekend. There will be a little more SW energy right on the heels of the first swell that arrives on Sunday and Monday that will help to keep some chest sets holding into early next week.

Further out high-pressure starts to set up shop to the east of New Zealand and flattens out the SW swell window of the SPAC…but it does open the door for a little bit more S swell to form up.

At this point it looks like a new storm will push off Antarctica in about 2-3 days and intensify as it travels N-NNE. If winds live up to the forecasts we should be seeing some new S-swell (170-180) arriving around April 4th. This one is still forming so check back for updates.

Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster

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