Friday, November 19, 2010

Where did the forecast go?

Hey guys…I know most of you already know where to find the forecasts now that they are over on…our new, much more powerful site.

But just in case some of you new visitors googled in…I wanted to make sure that you can find all of the new cool stuff. This blog isn’t updating the forecast anymore, all of that has been pushed over to the new site. Here are a few of the links that will hopefully help you find some waves (and hopefully good conditions too.)

For those of you that just wanted the forecast without any of the bells and whistles…The same ol’ Socal Forecast can be found here (this is the normal forecast for all of Southern California and generally gives you all the info you need to find surf for the next day)

Here is the link to my long-range forecasts where you can find all the details you need to plan your surf sessions for the next several days, and some even longer range outlooks that can give you a heads up on incoming swells.

Since the Southern California coastline is all jacked up (uh I mean unique)…we took the forecast and broke it down into a bunch of different “zones” that help to show how much swell, what sort of wind, and how the tides are going to affect the different regions.

Santa Barbara
North LA
the South Bay
North Orange County
South Orange County
North San Diego
South San Diego

If that wasn’t enough we even put together a pretty comprehensive list of the surf breaks and beaches in each region. These aren’t surf reports, but they give very specific weather, wind, tides, water-quality, and a bunch of other cool stuff. When you first drop onto a spot page you will see “Current or Live” information, but if you click around you can find all kinds of cool stuff (like hour-by-hour wind forecasts going out for a full week…just the thing you need to plan a midday session if the winds lay down.) Check em out when you get a chance…

Santa Barbara County Spots
Gaviota State Beach
Arroyo Quemada
Refugio State Beach
El Capitan State Beach
Haskells Beach
Summerland Beach
Goleta Beach
Butterfly Beach
East Beach at Sycamore Creek
Hammonds Beach
Hope Ranch Beach
East Beach at Mission Creek
Sands at Coal Oil Point
Arroyo Burro Beach
Leadbetter Beach
Carpinteria City Beach
Carpinteria State Beach
Rincon Beach

Ventura County Spots
La Conchita Beach
Mussel Shoals Beach
Oil Piers Beach
Hobson County Park
Solimar Beach
Emma Wood State Beach
San Buenaventura Beach
Ventura Harbor South Jetty
Surfers Knoll
McGrath State Beach
Oxnard Beach Park
Hollywood by the Sea
Port Hueneme Beach Park
Point Mugu Beach

North Los Angeles County Spots
County Line Beach
Leo Carrillo Beach
Will Rogers State Beach
Topanga State Beach
Santa Monica Beach
Paradise Cove Pier
Zuma Beach

South Los Angeles County Spots
Venice City Beach
El Porto
Manhattan Beach Pier
Hermosa Redondo Beach
Lunada Bay
Rancho Palos Verdes

North Orange County Spots
Seal Beach
Seal Beach Pier
Surfside Sunset Beach
Bolsa Chica State

Huntington Cliffs
Huntington City Beach
Huntington State Beach
Santa Ana River Mouth
Upper Jetties Newport

Newport Pier Blackies
15th Street Newport Beach
Corona del Mar Beach
Laguna Beach Crescent Bay Beach
Laguna Beach
Aliso Creek Beach South Laguna

South Orange County Spots
Salt Creek Beach
Dana Point Harbor Baby Beach
Doheny Beach
Capistrano Beach
T Street San Clemente
San Clemente State Beach

North San Diego Spots
San Onofre State Beach
Old Mans San Onofre
Trails San Onofre
Oceanside Surfrider Way
Cassidy Street Oceanside
Tamarack Av Carlsbad
Ponto Carlsbad
Beacons Beach Leucadia
Moonlight Beach Encinitas
Swamis Beach Encinitas
Cardiff State Beach San Elijo
Seaside State Park
Del Mar San Dieguito River Beach

South San Diego Spots
Blacks Beach
La Jolla Shores
Windansea Beach
Pacific Beach Tourmaline
Mission Beach
Ocean Beach
Sunset Cliffs
Coronado Beach
Imperial Beach

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Storm and Swell Alert – North Pacific is looking to get Nasty

So I have been looking at the forecast charts and the swell models for the last few days (well lets not kid anyone…my near OCD has me looking at the charts all the time…and once I find a way I will probably have it fed directly into my brain). So like I said, I have been looking at the charts and there, right at the end of the forecast run, was this ugly mutant of a storm.

Usually I don’t put a ton of faith in the weather models when we move waaaaaaay out into the forecast run, they have a tendency to overcall things, and the timing is rarely ever correct…but in this case this storm definitely caught my eye.

Now, a couple of days later, the storm is still there on the charts and the swell models are still calling for it to crank out a LOT of swell…particularly for Hawaii (and the really, really unlucky people that live in the Aleutian Islands.) There is also a pretty large hunk of WNW swell that is supposed to head over to California, hitting NorCal pretty hard and throwing some large surf into Socal as well.

I am still a little “iffy” on the storm’s intensity and timing since it is not forecast to develop for another 4-5 days, which, for me, is still in the marginal area of the forecast run. Personally I would like to have the storm get a couple of days closer to developing before we start ringing alarm bells.

OK, that being said, lets look at what we can expect if this storm lives up to the current forecast.


The storm itself is part of what is called a “complex low-pressure”, which basically means that it is a series of fronts and low-pressure centers that are all mixing together in one big mess. Usually with these complex lows you have an “anchor” low-pressure that sits up in the higher-latitudes and a series of intense storms that push through the mid-upper latitudes like they are riding some crazy merry-go-round.

In this case the anchor low is currently developing, and will likely move into place over the upcoming weekend…and even though it is the leading element of the bigger system it will be sending out waves as well (that will arrive a few days earlier than the larger system).

The most intense part of this complex low is when everything sort of collapses into one big low-pressure…which happens in about 4-5 days.

The current GFS pressure model is calling for the low pressure to drop to something close to 952mb, (which if this was a tropical storm/hurricane it would be something close to a category 3 system…which is why the Holy Crap is on that chart). As a frontal storm it means that winds will be close to 50-60+ knots near the core of the low. With those sort of winds, and all the pre-existing sea-state that gets kicked up by the preceding fronts, we can expect the storm to produce something that looks like this…and yes those are 40-foot+ seas.

Needless to say that even if the top 10-15-feet of that is just storm fluff there will still be a pretty significant swell forming from this storm.


Surfwise…Hawaii is forecast to receive the largest chunk of energy…likely something in the range of 18-20 feet of deepwater energy at 17-20 seconds, which can translate to 30-40-foot faces as it hits some of the Hawaiian reefs. The swell is pretty NW’erly in swell angle, which is good for spots like Jaws (Peahi). It looks like this swell will come up fast late on Dec 6th with the peak of the swell hitting overnight into Dec 7th. One thing that could suck is the winds…the trailing part of the storm’s front could show around the same time setting up W-NW winds which doesn’t do the north shores of any islands and good.

Northern and Central California will see a smaller but still impressive amount of energy that will hit North of Point Conception…something like 15-16 feet of deepwater swell at 18-20 seconds. This will show some energy late on Dec 8th but will likely peak throughout the day on 9th…the angle will be pretty WNW’erly (275-295) which means that it will hit a lot more spots with more energy than the NW swells usually do.

Southern California is forecast to see this swell showing some long-period energy, particularly at the more northerly counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura, by the afternoon on the 9th. The peak of the swell will hit throughout the day on the 10th. The WNW angle works better for Socal as well (280-300), so there will be less shadowing. At this point the swell looks good for easy head high to overhead surf at the average spots, and the top spots going several feet overhead. The best San Diego spots could see more consistent double-overhead+ sets.

Unfortunately weather looks like it will be an issue for all of California as well…a smaller cold front is forecast to bring onshore wind and rain about the same time as the swell peaks…hopefully this part of the forecast won’t be correct.

So that is all I have for now…keep in mind that this is pure forecast at this point…I will definitely keep you guys posted as the storm actually develops. Cross your fingers that it lives up to the forecast hype.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Swell Alert – Good sized W-WNW heading to the West Coast

A strong new W-WNW swell will start moving into the California Coast late tonight, hitting the Northern and Central California regions well after sundown and eventually peaking in those regions on Thanksgiving.

Southern California will start to see some WNW-NW (280-300) long-period energy (18-20 seconds) later Thursday afternoon…eventually peaking throughout the day on Friday and holding into the weekend.

Like most of the intense storms we have seen so far this season this latest system is another mix of extra-tropical moisture from near Japan and a colder, higher-latitude, cold-front moving off of Siberia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. The rapid cooling of the warm-moist air-mass is helping to fuel the storm’s intensity, which has been pretty impressive…40-50+ knots of wind and 30-35 foot seas have been recorded (not just forecasted) in the key areas of fetch. Check out the latest JASON-1 satellite data…you can find this same stuff over on the website…and as usual a bit thanks to Mark Sponsler for letting me poach a couple of charts now and then.

And here is the equally impressive WavewatchIII forecast chart…as you can see the two are pretty matched up.

Anyhoo…the pictures are pretty in all…but lets talk about some surf.

Northern and Central California

The new W-WNW swell (275-315) is already showing on the SE Papa Buoy (#46006)…and actually started to hit this outer buoy around 4-5 am this morning with a sizeable dose of energy in that 18-20-second swell-period range. Check out the buoy’s historical data…

This buoy is about 600 miles west of Eureka…and is generally considered the 1-day buoy for Northern and Central California, which means that it takes a swell in the 17- to 18-second period range about 23-24 hours to actually hit the Northern/Central Cal beaches. (This buoy is usually 36-40 hours away form Southern California, depending on the swell period…)

So based on the buoy data, and the JASON-1 pass, this is going to be a pretty solid swell for the exposed spots North of Point Conception. It will peak with 12-14-feet of deepwater swell, which generally translates into consistent well-overhead to double-overhead+ surf for the average spots. Top breaks will be more consistently in the double-triple overhead range. Best deepwater breaks, like Mavericks, will see steady 14-16-foot faces with some bombs coming in around 20’+ on the face.

Winds and weather are going to cooperate on Thursday…lots of light/variable winds in the morning with some spots seeing light/moderage offshore flow through the first part of the day. NW winds build in through the evening and strengthen more into Friday…if you are surfing this area, Thursday will definitely be the cleanest and likely the most fun day of this swell.

Check out the CDIP models for the area…

Southern California

Socal is going to see some new long-period WNW-NW energy (280-300) showing in the well exposed Santa Barbara and Ventura breaks late in the afternoon/evening on Thursday. The swell will fill in more overnight and will start to peak for all areas by midmorning on Friday.

Friday Morning…

This is another one of those swells where the majority of the energy is riding in around 290-300…but with enough (more) westerly energy from (280-300) to keep waves showing at the lesser exposed spots.

As this swell peaks we can expect the average WNW facing spots to see consistent chest-shoulder high surf with sets going head high…with a couple of bigger sets mixing in. The top NW facing spots in Ventura, the South Bay, and parts of San Diego, will see consistent shoulder-overhead surf with some sets going 2-3-feet overhead…and possibly bigger at those excellent breaks that can focus the long-medium period NW energy.

Winds look good for both Thursday and Friday…mostly light and variable through the mornings (a little more offshore on Thursday)…and then only moderate onshore flow around 10-15 knots for the late afternoon. Stronger NW winds build in later Friday evening.

Overall…this is looking like a pretty good swell, particularly if you like big waves and you live up North. For SoCal though…I think it will be fun, but due to the majority of the energy coming in from 290+, there will be some shadowing issues…and if you don’t stick the best exposed spots you won’t see the larger surf. It will be rideable almost everywhere that has exposure…so you don’t “have” to drive far to get waves, but if you are looking for the overhead stuff plan on heading to the normal winter standouts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Surf Photos – November 7th and 8th 2009

Here are a few shots sent in by one of our Nor/Cen California brethren…these were all taken at a partially exposed surf area over the weekend as the NW swell was peaking. Looks pretty darn fun considering that it wasn’t getting a full dose of the NW’er.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Something brewing in the South Pacific - Waves on the way

So after watching the storm, and the swell it produced, for the last couple of days it looks like things are on track for a pretty decent run of swell throughout Central America, Mainland Mexico, Baja Mexico, and Southern California.

I revised the forecast a little from the one I issued a couple of days ago...not much size-wise but just a little on the timing.

Central America and Southern Mainland Mexico will be the biggest...look for easy well-overhead surf for most exposed areas. Top spots will go double-overhead and bigger as the swell peaks on the 18-19th. Deepwater breaks like Puerto Escondido will be even bigger, probably triple-overhead+ on the sets.

Northern Mainland Mexico will see the size drop off a bit...just due to the more southerly angle of the swell. Look for most spots in that area to see consistent surf in the head high to a couple of feet overhead range. Standout S facing spots will have sets going a few feet overhead as the swell peaks late on the 18 and into the 19th.

Baja Sur will see the swell move in and peak on the 19-20th...with the tip peaking a little earlier. Most spots will be running in the shoulder-overhead range as the swell starts really working. Standout spots, particularly breaks near the Tip, will have sets going a few feet overhead and a little bigger at the swell's peak.

Southern California and Baja Norte will have long-period energy from this S swell (170-190) showing late on Friday the 18th...this will build overnight and through Saturday, eventually peaking Saturday afternoon through Sunday, then slowly fading out on Monday. At this point we can expect the average S facing spots to see shoulder-head high+ surf while the standout S facing areas, particularly in North Orange County, see some overhead+ sets as the swell peaks. To top it off there will be some tropical energy still lingering around as leftovers from Elida slowly fade away...this energy should help to fill in the consistency gaps and put a lot of waves into the exposed areas throughout the weekend.

Make sure to check back...I will be talking about the swell some more in the Daily Update as we get closer...or I might bail to Mexico and leave you is about 50/50 right now (just kidding...well sort of).

Here are some links to the previous posts

Post 1
Post 2

Friday, July 4, 2008

Waves for the weekend – Happy 4th of July!

It looks marginally surfable this weekend…sort of fun since it is a holiday but nothing worth burning a ton of gas and time trying to get to the beach.

We are going to see the mix of steep NW windswell and background SW swells continue as we head into Saturday and Sunday. Most spots will continue to see surf in the waist-shoulder high range while the standout NW windswell spots see some bigger waves by the end of the weekend as winds increase in the outer waters.

Nearshore winds don’t look horrible. Spots north of SF will have NW flow around 5-15 knots with stronger gusts in the afternoon. Central Coast areas, including Santa Cruz, will be closer to 5-10 knots for the mornings and a little more bump by the end of the day.

Again I think it is worth paddling out if you live close to the beach, or are planning on killing some time at your local spots over the holiday weekend. Otherwise I wouldn’t put in a lot of effort getting to the water…it will be just as fun, and waaaaay less crowded as we head into next week.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Surfing on 4th of July - Some fog and a few little waves

Friday looks surfable if only because it is a holiday and we should be spending it on the beach BBQ'ing anyways.

We will have a mix of mostly WNW windswell and some background SW energy. Most spots will continue to see waist-chest high surf while the better WNW facing beaches and good combo spots see some chest-shoulder high sets.

Winds are expected to be on the light side through the morning (along with more fog and light texture). Afternoon winds come onshore around 10-15 knots from the west.

Overall I don’t think it is going to matter a whole lot where you surf...the S facing spots will be cleaner but smaller and less consistent. NW facing spots will be mostly windswell and will have a bit more it is sort of a toss up. Personally I would plan on trying to get a decent little stretch of beach, break out the big boards, and eat a few too many hotdogs, or soydogs (you hippy), while celebrating the holiday.

Have a great holiday everyone...I will have an update for the weekend tomorrow!