Monday, May 3, 2010

Southern California Long-range Surf Forecast – 5/03/2010

Sorry about the late forecast tonight unexpected (a.k.a. complete space-out on my part) T-Ball game cropped up right in the middle of my update…we tied 30 to 30 (and are now 0-0-5 for the season)…you have to love T-Ball. Anyhoo...since it is almost Tuesday already…just use this forecast as daily update for Tuesday.

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)

Tuesday – (funky chicken)
There will be a mix of leftover SSW-SW swell (190-220) and some weak WNW-NW windswell on tap Tuesday. This SSW-er didn’t produce all that well over the weekend so I am not expecting much as the tail end of it moves through. Average spots will be in the knee-waist high range. Standout SW facing spots, mostly in South OC, will have some waist-chest high sets. The mostly NW facing breaks will be knee high with some occasional waist high sets…soft and gutless since it will be almost totally windswell. Late in the day...a new S-SSW swell (180-200) begins to show on the buoys…I am not expecting much on the beach before sundown, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on things.

Winds/Weather: The winds aren’t looking particularly good on Tuesday…there is a bit of instability in the weather in the morning and it looks like some onshore flow takes advantage of it. I think that early on it will be manageable…variable/variable-onshore around 4-5 knots...but those winds are going to keep on strengthening, so by midmorning it won’t be all that fun…more W-WNW around 10-15 knots for most areas.

Wednesday – (Please, please Mr. eddy bring us some warm water)
New S-SSW swell (180-200) fills in on Wednesday, peaking in the afternoon. Local windswell (from the outer-water winds driving the eddy) will also start to increase. Look for most of the average spots to hold around knee-waist high with some bigger sets at the average breaks with some southerly exposure. The best S facing breaks, mostly in Orange County, will have shoulder-head high surf with some overhead sets mixing in…spots that can really focus this sort of swell direction may have some bigger waves. Winds/Weather: It looks like the eddy switches gears on Wednesday…grinding it up a couple more notches. Look for WNW-NW winds for Santa Barbara…and then S winds, around 10-12 knots for most other spots through the morning. W-WSW winds around 10-15 knots move in through the afternoon.

Thursday – (Looks like a surf day)
S-SSW swell (180-200) continues to hold through Thursday morning as it mixes with background NW windswell…fortunately conditions clean up…(or at least the eddy spins it self out enough for the S winds to stop for a few hours). Average S facing breaks will be running waist-chest high with some inconsistent shoulder high sets. The standout S facing breaks will be shoulder-overhead on the sets, with a few bigger sets mixing in at the really, really good S spots. Winds/Weather: Winds switch around Thursday morning as some high-pressure reasserts itself across central California…this sets up some gusty NE winds for Santa Barbara/Ventura/North LA...while SD and OC see more light/variable conditions for the morning. These winds shift onshore pretty quickly so expect crumble/bump for most spots (particularly in SD/OC) by midmorning and then W winds 10-15 knots on tap for the afternoon.

Friday – (breaking the wind)
Still plenty of S-SSW swell (180-200) in the water…but it will be starting to wind down a touch as the size and the period back off. The local NW windswell will be holding steady at knee-waist high so we have that going for us. Most S facing breaks will continue to be in the chest-shoulder high range. Standout S facing spots, in (wait for it) Orange County, will be chest-head high on most sets with some less and less frequent overhead sets mixing in. 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.


North Pacific
Not much going in the North Pacific…just a bunch of springy NW winds moving down the coast…setting up some steep NW windswell (that most spots can’t get) and spinning up the eddy (which doesn’t help us a whole lot either). These winds will be on and off in strength throughout the week, and over the upcoming weekend…so the size/mix of the local windswell will be tied to the shifts in those winds.

I am not expecting any sort of significant swell from the NPAC at this point…but if one of you has the remote control, feel free to rewind us back to winter.

South Pacific
Still plenty of Southern Hemi swell in the forecast…though I was a little bummed on that SSW-SW swell that sort-of showed over the weekend. It ended up having a lot of shadowing issues, both from the SPAC Islands and our nearshore islands, which chewed a lot of the guts out of the swell out before it hit our beaches…the small swell blended in with conditions that didn’t live up to the forecast as well as cold water. Basically I spent a lot of time looking up at my indicator trees blow onshore and swearing....anyway moving on…

Tuesday isn’t going to be all that much better than the weekend…though the swell direction shifts a little more Southerly, which might add a little more size to the well exposed spots.

Late Tuesday night a new S-SSW swell (180-200) moves in and continues to build overnight and into Wednesday. Eventually this swell peaks Wednesday afternoon, holding into Thursday, before backing down slowly on Friday afternoon and throughout the day on Saturday. I went back and pulled some wind charts from ASCAT (the replacement for QUIKscat)…these showed some pretty good sized fetch…

As you can see…nothing super intense, but it is well positioned and the frontal edge of this storm pushed up from the higher latitudes which helps keep the energy pointed our direction.

Further out there will be another pulse of S-SSW swell (185-210) that moves in with some waist-shoulder high surf for the top spots on May 9th…and the really long-range charts are suggesting some more SSW-SW swell for around the middle of the month.

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

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster

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