Thursday, April 29, 2010

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 4/29/2010

Forecast Overview

The nasty winds will finally start to back off tonight and it looks like they are going to stay light as we move into the weekend. Shape and conditions will improve as we head into the weekend, which is nice because it is just in time for more SW swell to move in from the Southern Hemi.

Short Range (next 4 days)

Friday – (breaking the wind)
Conditions start to improve on Friday…not totally clean up…but definitely better than what we had on Thursday. In the water we will have a mix of holding WNW-NW windswell and some peaking SSW-SW swell (190-220). Most spots will be in the chest-shoulder high range, while the better NW and SW facing breaks see some less consistent bigger sets. The standout NW facing breaks, mostly in San Diego, will see stacked up, lumpy overhead+ windswell. The best SW facing breaks will be head high+ on the inconsistent sets. I don’t expect the greatest shape since there is so much short-period energy sloshing around, but if you have a spot that can groom out some of that energy, or it just generally breaks better on windswells, then those areas will probably be the best call. Winds/Weather: Look for light winds in the morning…there may be a little onshore texture here and there…but overall winds will be below 5 knots. Look for onshore WNW-NW winds to build in later in the day…eventually pushing up into the 10-15 knot range.

Saturday – (Fading windswell but a touch more Southern Hemi)
The surf continues to improve on Saturday as the local winds even out a bit more and the even though the windswell backs off, it grooms out some of the junk and manages to hold onto some of the more “surfable” parts of the swell. The SSW-SW swell (190-220) continues to hold…and even gets a little bit more reinforcing energy that will help to keep the summer spots in fun-size surf. Average breaks can expect surf in the chest-shoulder high range. The standout NW facing spots will be shoulder-head high with some plus sets showing on the morning tide push. The best SW facing spots, particularly the combo breaks, will have more consistent shoulder-head high surf with some overhead sets mixing in on the good tide push. Winds/Weather: Weather looks nice on Saturday. Light and variable winds on tap for the morning with some building onshore flow for the afternoon. Look for clean conditions early and then NW winds around 10-14 knots pushing in through the second half of the day. There may be some pockets of fog early…but it should burn off by midday.

Sunday – (more combo energy)
The SSW-SW swell continues to hold on Sunday while the local windswell drops off. Look for the average spots to slip down into the waist-chest range with a few plus sets sneaking through at the good combo spots. The best SW facing breaks, and the excellent combo spots (mostly in South OC and parts of San Diego), will be more in the chest-head high range with some inconsistent head high+ sets on the tide push. Winds/Weather: A little eddy starts to spin up on Sunday…nothing super strong…but possibly centered around Catalina which would push light S-SSE winds into San Diego and Southern OC. Spots further north look cleaner…mostly E-ENE through the morning. All breaks see the springy WNW-NW winds push in through the afternoon with the well exposed breaks topping around near 12-15 knots.

Monday – (more combo love)
The windswell continues to back off on Monday…but another pulse of SSW-SW swell moves in and mixes with the Southern Hemi blend (180-210) that will still be hanging around from the weekend. Expect the WNW-NW facing spots to lose more size…holding in the waist high range with a few rare bigger sets. The SW facing breaks will be more in the chest-shoulder high range with a few of the standout SW facing breaks, mostly in South OC, seeing some inconsistent head high+ sets. Winds/Weather: Look for light and variable winds through the morning with some pockets of texture around the wind-prone areas. The afternoon winds pick up out of the NW around 10-15 knots.


North Pacific
Not much showing in the NPAC in the latest forecast run…we will see the strong wind gradient (you know…the one that is trashing the surf here on Thursday) start to shift around and weaken as high-pressure starts to develop over the region.

This increasing high-pressure is actually stretching across to Hawaii, with another fairly strong ridge developing over the western half of the North Pacific. Check it out…

This my friends, is a pretty typical spring/early summer pressure pattern for the North Pacific…and once those two ridges of pressure get entrenched it is pretty difficult to push them out of the way. You guys might hear me refer to this sort of set-up as a “double-barrel” high-pressure…and yes it is a bad thing for helping make surf.

At this point, with these highs moving into place I am not expecting any sort of significant storm to form in our swell window over the next week or so. There may be an increase in local windswell if the eastern high moves a little further off the coast…but for the most part the NPAC is looking pretty boring.

South Pacific
Plenty of energy on the way from the South Pacific…there has been a pretty consistent stream of storms moving through both our S and SW swell windows and thanks to that activity we can expect a series of overlapping pulses that will keep the S facing breaks alive with chest-shoulder high+ surf through the weekend.

SSW-SW (190-220) has been arriving over the last couple of days but it has mostly been swallowed up by this stupid onshore wind. Fortunately this swell has some legs and the main portion of the energy is going to arrive in a couple of overlapping pulses that peak on Friday, hold into early Saturday, and then slowly back down Sunday/Monday. Like I said in the short-range portion of the forecast… this one looks good for consistent chest-shoulder high surf at the average spots and a few overhead sets at the standout SW breaks as it peaks.

That nice looking storm that I was watching waaaaay out in the charts in my last long-range forecast actually managed to pull together over the last few days (and I didn’t even have to bribe it with tootsie pops like I do with my 5-year old). Check it out on the Jason-1 satellite…(a big thanks to Mark Sponsler, who lets me poach his charts…make sure to visit his site when you get a chance).

Like I mentioned before this storm is showing a lot of good qualities. It is positioned in a non-shadowed area of the SPAC, it has some strong South-to-North movement, it gets a bunch of extra-tropical energy bridging through the mid-latitudes as it really pulls together, and it is 1000+ miles closer than the last bigger storm…all of which are good things. The winds aren’t super strong…WINDsat had some 35-45 knots in core…but it looks like the proximity and duration of the storm (as well as the movement) will help overcome its lack of intensity.

At this point I am looking for new S-SSW swell (180-200) to move in late on May 4th…but then peak on May 5-6th…likely holding some smaller but still surfable energy into the following weekend. Most S facing spots will see consistent chest-shoulder high surf from this one…but the standout S facing spots, pretty much just in Orange County, will have some sets going a couple of feet overhead as it peaks…the focal breaks (spots that really pull in this sort of swell) will probably have some bigger sizes at times.

the Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster


Anonymous said...

15 foot sets at wedge for cinco day may?

Anonymous said...

sweet! have off work all next week. let's do this thang!!!

Anonymous said...

That double high is kind of a good thing right? all weve been getting since march are junky sloippy freezing windswells which make the water colder and mess up the south swells

Adam Wright said...

it sort of depends on where the NE Pacific High is located...if it gets pushed over the west coast it can calm things down...if it is centered more in the Gulf of Alaska the more breezy spring winds will be able to push through the backside of the high pressure and through the gap that runs right along the California Coast...setting up some NW windswell, sloppy conditions, but also spinning up the eddy, which while he sucks for clean morning shape, can help to bring up some warmer water.

Unfortunately spring/winds are a nessecary evil, it helps to warm the water up, but those same winds will trash up a lot of spots.