Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tropical Alert – Hurricane Celia moving into the Socal swell window

Hurricane Celia has finally tracked far enough west to to reach the Southern California swell window…well at least the extreme SE portion of it…and in the process she has managed to intensify and become more organized.

Celia’s current wind speeds are holding around 100-knots with gusts hitting 120-knots at times, which classifies her as a Category-3 (Major) Hurricane…and is sort of the tropic’s way of saying…”bite me” to La Nina. (La Nina hasn’t actually formed yet…we are still in El-Nino/Neutral…La Nina is supposed to set in over the next 3 months…but Celia can still give “cooling trend” the finger).

Right now Celia’s storm-track is going to continue to move her through warm water for the next couple of days, possibly letting her reach Category-4 strength sometime on Thursday…and then finally starting to weaken on Friday. Her current movement path is WNW (280) at about 8-10 knots which isn’t bad considering that the storm has estimated tropical storm strength winds stretching for almost 200 miles in the NE and SE quadrants, which is where any swell that she sends our way will develop.

From a surf standpoint…Celia is looking better and better…her strong wind speeds, decent diameter, and favorable movement path/speed, are all combining nicely and if she holds together we will see some pretty good swell from her.

Finding swell from her, on the other hand, may be a little tricky at first. Since the core of the storm is just starting to move into our swell window today it means that conceivably there will be some new SE swell (155-160) arriving later on Friday, June 25th…but counting on that swell will be a little dicey. Due to its extreme SE angle only a handful of areas will see that energy…and then you have to add in the fact that tropical swells are pretty fluky in general…all of which makes committing to any real jump in tropical surf size on Friday pretty hard. The way I would look at it is like this…sure there is a shot at some new tropical swell Friday evening, but I probably won’t waste much time checking it. If I happen to be close by a SE exposed spot and the winds look decent Friday afternoon…then it might justify a quick look but I would keep my expectations low.

The meat of Celia’s swell is likely to arrive over the weekend…peaking late on Saturday through Sunday, and possibly into Monday (if the storm holds together). By then the swell direction will be more Southerly (170-180), which means more spots can pick it up…and more of the storm’s outer winds will have moved into our window (a couple of days before) allowing more fetch for swell production. Sizewise it is still a bit hard to gauge…but it is looking like consistent shoulder-head high surf for most S facing spots and then sets going overhead, to possibly a couple of feet overhead at the standout S-SE breaks.

What is nice about this storm in particular is that the tropical swell is going to be mixing with some decent sized SW swell, which while it isn’t coming in from the same swell direction, should offer up enough to surf to keep us from getting burned by Celia if the hurricane fails to produce somehow (which tropical storms, even good looking ones, often do). With the SW’er in the water you will have a good chance of getting fun waves this weekend, particularly on Sunday, and if Celia comes through then there could be some legit size at the S facing spots as well.


TS Darby formed up last night…and while he isn’t in our swell window it looks like he will reach hurricane status over the next 12-18 hours while he moves into the SE swell window for Baja Sur. If you are heading to Baja, or Central Mainland Mexico…you are definitely going to want to keep an eye on him. much for a quiet tropical season...

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