Friday, May 30, 2008
We will have a mix of building but steeply angled NW windswell, some very small and inconsistent SW energy, and a new but shadowed S swell (180) showing in a few select areas.
We will also have to deal with the high tide hitting right in the middle of the morning and increasing onshore winds in the afternoon.
In general expect surf around waist high for most areas...maybe a few bigger sets at the top NW facing breaks by the afternoons. It will be mostly windswell so shape will be on the gutless stacked-up side. Look for small to almost flat sizes as the high tide peaks in the morning and again in the evening.
No real "best bets" this weekend...just try and find a few waves at your local spots...don't drive very far (or waste gas) looking for better waves because there won't be many to find.
California and Baja Mexico will also see some waves from this one but they will be quite a bit smaller.
Short-range forecasts are expecting this storm to be a beast...NOAA's WavewatchIII is predicting nearly 40-50' seas in the core of this system. Here check out this image from the swell model.
You can check out the animated version of this here
Here is a shot of the swell (in swell period form) about 6+ days from this post.
As you can see it sent a pretty solid blast of energy towards Tahiti and then on to Central America and Mainland Mexico. You can also see the South Pacific Island shadowing that occurs on SW swells (it is always sad to see that gap in the swell line up perfectly with SoCal...damn islands).
Here is the animation run for the swell period...you can watch the swell move across the pacific.
If you look close you can actually see that the bigger swell isn't the only one in the water...there are actually a couple of other SW swells that have been kicked out. This is great from a travel perspective...it means that you aren't putting all your eggs in one basket...so you will have a good chance to score a longer run of waves.
Ok enough about the storm here are the arrival times and details on the swell.
Central America and Mainland Mexico - Since the swell is pretty SW in swell direction (210-225) it is actually going to both regions about the same time. There is another smaller SW swell coming in from the same direction that arrives on June 6th and holds around for a couple of days. This first one looks good for head high and overhead surf at the standout breaks maybe even a few bigger sets at top spots. The bigger swell hits on June 9-10th with surf in the overhead to well-overhead range for most areas while the standouts, mostly in Southern Mainland Mexico and Northern Central America see double-overhead+ sets. Spots light Puerto Escondido will probably go bigger than that as well. There will be some shadowing for Costa Rica and Panama from the Galapagos islands...so expect smaller surf in those countries. One other thing to keep in mind is the weather...TS Alma just got done douching the area with rain...it may not be very easy to travel to the more remote spots.
Baja Sur - The first SW'er (205-220) hits Baja Sur around 7th and sets up some shoulder-head high surf for the standout breaks on the Pacific Side...the Tip/East Cape may be a bit shadowed so expect smaller less consistent surf through that area. The second, bigger, SW swell peaks on the 10-11th with more shoulder-head high+ surf for the average spots and inconsistent overhead+ sets at the standout breaks. If you head down this way try and keep in mind that while there will be decent waves in this area it will lack a lot of consistency...especially compared to a swell coming in from a more southerly swell direction. So plan on it being fun...but not all-time.
Southern California and Baja Norte - Socal will have the first SW'er (200-220) limp in around the 7-8th...not the greatest swell for SoCal but it will put some chest-shoulder high sets at the top breaks in South OC and San Diego. The second, larger SW'er hits on the 11th with average spots building into the chest high+ range while the standouts, again in San Diego and South Orange County, see shoulder-head high sets. (I am being a bit conservative...there may be a bigger set sneaking though at times).
Nor/Central California – It actually hits about the same time as SoCal so you would be seeing the first swell on the 7-8th and the peak of the larger swell around the 11th. This one should be good for some head high sets at the standout SW facing spots…and you won’t suffer as much inconsistency as SoCal.
Anyway that is what I got for now...we still have enough lead time to get a cheaper plane ticket (if you get on it in the next day or so.) As usual if you head out of town make sure to send me some pictures and let me know how it was.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Before you get too excited look at where it is located…
It is pressed right up against Central America and it is forecast to move back over land before it dissipates, (which means no surf for us.)
Here is how the odds of getting swell of break out right now.
Chance of getting surf in SoCal – 0%
Chance of getting surf in Baja Sur – 0%
Chance of getting surf in NorCal - 0% (I wish I could put less than zero)
Chance of Central America getting slammed by heavy rain, lightening, and flash floods – pretty damn good
Anyway even though it isn’t a swell-maker I thought I would pass it along. It shows that there is potential in the EPAC for more storm formation. Cross your fingers that we get one to spin up in our swell-window before too long.
I probably won’t be issuing a ton of posts on each storm (just as they increase surf potential)…so if you need more information or just more consistent updated make sure to check out the National Hurricane Center website.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
There will be a mix of mostly leftover WNW energy and some background SW swell. Most spots will be around waist high while the standout combo breaks will have some chest high sets. Shape will be a bit boggy as we move through the tidal swings...look for the higher tides to nearly shut it down completely.
Winds are looking light through the morning, particularly through the Santa Cruz/Monterey area. The more exposed areas of SF and spots further north will have some onshore breeze around 5 knots.
Winds pick up for all areas in the afternoon. Look for NW flow around 15-20 knots through the late afternoon. Most spots will get pretty torn up through the second half of the day.
I would plan on brining the small wave gear to the beach on Thursday. Longboard and fishy shapes will be the best call. I would also plan on looking at spots with some really shallow sandbars or high tide reefs during the morning...there is going to be a lot of water still leftover from the higher tide that rolls through during the night. It will probably end up being a race between the dropping tide and the building wind as we head into lunchtime so try and balance the two and you might be able to pick off a few fun ones.
According to news sources there have actually been 2 new shark attacks, one of them fatal, down around Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo coastline in Mainland Mexico.
If you remember Adrian Ruiz a surfer from San Francisco bleed to death from a shark attack while surfing the nearby area of Troncones Beach in April.
These latest attacks were reported at a beach called Pantla and at Playa Linda beach.
At Pantla Beach, Osvaldo Mata, was reported to have been mauled by a large 6' shark which bit off his hand and gouged his thigh. Apparently his brave friends paddled over and helped him to shore but he died of his wounds before medics arrived.
You can read more about the fatal attack here
The second attack, which occurred a couple of days later at Playa Linda, was on Texan Bruce Grimes. According to the news article the shark gave him a quick swim-by and then snagged his arm as he was trying to get back to the beach. After a bit of a struggle Grimes apparently was able get away from the shark and make his way to shore and eventually drive to medical help where he ending up with something close to 100 stitches. (Got to give the man credit for keeping his shit together enough to get to help.)
You can read more about the attack at Playa Linda Here http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN26346680
Man this is crazy...it really seems like 2008 has been a horrible year for shark attacks both domestically and internationally. (If some of you have seen a story about year to year frequency of shark attacks forward it on).
I love animals and nature as much as the next guy (if not more) but I am definitely starting to have issues with humans getting pushed back into the food chain.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
We will have a mix of SW energy, local WNW windswell (but without the winds), and some background WNW energy limping in from over the dateline. Most spots will have surf in the chest high+ range on the low tides. Standout breaks will be closer to shoulder high+ on the sets particularly by the afternoon as the swell mix strengthens. Again tides will be a bit of an issue so aim for the low-to-high tide push.
Winds are forecast to be light offshore throughout the region tomorrow so look for clean conditions (probably some fog here and there too) in the morning. W winds around 10+ knots do come onshore in the afternoon.
I think the combo beach breaks or really good focal spots will be the call tomorrow. There won’t be a ton of swell in the water so you need something to amplify the energy just a bit. A large shallow sandbar, reef, or pier/jetty would all be good places to check. The more protected areas, like the on insides of points, will be a bit smaller and will really suffer under the higher tides.
Monday, May 26, 2008
We will have a mix of small WNW energy and a blend of S-SW swells.
Most spots will run around waist high while the standouts see some chest high+ sets. It will be a bit inconsistent, sort of gutless, and a total burger at times (if you hit it on the wrong tides).
Winds look nice and light from the Northern Coast all the way down through Central Cal. Look for W winds 5 knots and below through the morning and marginally more onshore W wind for the afternoon.
Personally I would shoot for a fun little beach break or a really good break that still works as a longboard spot when it is small.
Friday, May 23, 2008
The Climate Prediction Center just issued a seasonal outlook for the 2008 East Pacific Hurricane Season.
As usual the actual “outlook” straight from the government is a bit on the dry side…but basically is breaks down to this.
The official opinion is that it will be a below average season. The CPC is estimating that there is a 60-70% chance of the following.
11-16 named storms (tropical storm level or higher)
5-8 hurricanes (Cat 1 or higher)
1-3 major hurricanes (Cat 3 or higher)
Which while it is cool that they give specifics for the number of storms I am not really sure that it means that much when you factor in the 30-40% margin of error.
It is worth remembering that from a surf standpoint it isn’t so much the quantity of the storms but the quality. We have had plenty of good tropical surf seasons with only a handful of hurricanes…it is just that a lot depends on where the storms form and how they behave. With a few well placed storms and we can get a ton of waves. (Though the odds are better the more storms we get…yeah I love having to contradict myself in the same paragraph)
Here is a little post I put together a couple of weeks ago that has some info on what to look for…
2008 East Pacific Hurricane Season
You can read the official NOAA press release here http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080522_pacifichurricaneoutlook.html
Here is the actual seasonal outlook from the CPChttp://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/Epac_hurr/Epac_hurricane.html
The funky-chicken winds that have been blasting through the last few days are finally starting to back off and are expected to weaken even more as we head into the weekend. It won't be completely windless but most of the W-SW breezes will generally stay below 10 knots in the mornings and below 15 knots for the afternoon.
The only drawback is that the NW windswell and background S swell that have been generating all of the surf will be dropping fast over the next few days. Look for overhead+ stacked up surf to continue to show on Saturday but with smaller and smaller sets as we move throughout the day. By Sunday and Monday the NW facing breaks will be back to about shoulder high on sets.
The protected breaks will back off quite a bit as well...most of those areas will be in the waist-shoulder high+ range on Saturday and then hold around waist-chest high on Sunday and Monday off the mix of leftover NW energy and a weak new SW'er coming in from New Zealand.
It will be pretty cool and foggy along the coast over the weekend but just the fact that the howling winds have backed off should make it at least a little appealing for grabbing a session. I would keep an open mind about which spot you plan on surfing...you might find a little fun gem at breaks that have a bit more protection from the light southerly winds.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Santa Cruz may have a few waves in the really protected areas but the winds in the outer waters are expected to hit nearly 45-knots.
It isn't worth wasting much time on the forecast today...so I will just stick with the best bet...yep you guessed it...Santa Cruz. If I had to surf I would stick right up next to a high cliff somewhere but even then expect some chunk to the ocean surface and a nice ice cream headache from the winds blowing right into your ears. Sets will be around head high at the SC spots.
Everything else will be total poop.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I don’t think there are going to many spots that can handle the wind tomorrow…maybe a couple of really protected areas in Santa Cruz but even those are looking a bit sloppy.
In general look for large NW windswell to overrun most exposed breaks. Well overhead but poor shaped surf will be on tap for most spots.
Really I would plan on “not-surfing” and probably catching up with the chores that you neglected over the weekend.
Monday, May 19, 2008
There will be a lot of swell in the water. Increasing overhead but sloppy NW windswell arrives throughout the day as the local winds build. The windswell mixes with a strong but shadowed S swell and leftover WNW energy from the weekend. In general it looks like shoulder-overhead surf for most well exposed breaks (both N and S facing ones) and increasingly overhead surf by sundown at the NW facing spots.
Your best bet is the semi-protected breaks in Monterey Bay on Tuesday. Look for spots with some protection from S winds. This isn’t a full blown storm swell but it does have some characteristics that those have…so look for spots that like those short-period NW swells, S winds, and have a just a bit of protection and you should be able to score in the morning. All bets are off for the afternoon…winds shift onshore out of the W around 15-25+ knots. Not much protection from those.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Unless you have been living under a rock in the Himalayas (that doesn’t have cable or satellite TV) you probably have at least an idea of what a hurricane is…so I won’t spend a ton of time going over the storm itself…here is the official version from the National Hurricane Center…
“The terms "hurricane" and "typhoon" are regionally specific names for a strong "tropical cyclone". A tropical cyclone is the generic term for a non-frontal synoptic scale low-pressure system over tropical or sub-tropical waters with organized convection (i.e. thunderstorm activity) and definite cyclonic surface wind circulation
Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 34 knots are called "tropical depressions" Once the tropical cyclone reaches winds of at least 34 knots they are typically called a "tropical storm" and assigned a name. From there when winds reach 64-knots then they called “hurricanes” (or cyclones or typhoons…depending on what geographic region you are in).”
The official version is a little dry considering they are trying to describe potentially one of the most destructive releases of latent heat energy that can occur in our atmosphere…but hey that is government for you…I am sure that they could describe a nuclear explosion in a way that would make you fall asleep after the third paragraph.
For this little lesson…first I am going to throw down a little geography and terminology, because that is the way that I roll, and it will help our conversation about surf make more sense later, particularly when we start dealing with active storms. Anyway here is a little of the geography…
Our region is a little “special”
When you look around the world there are generally 7 areas that have consistent cyclone activity but our special little corner in the east North Pacific actually boasts an extra-bonus feature…our storms have a tendency to move away from land and generally pose less of a danger to life/limb/and property. Don’t get me wrong…they are still ass-kicking weather systems and will sometimes spin back and wreak havoc through Mexico and Central America...but they are quite a bit less likely to do so than the other tropical regions.
This is sort of a catch-22 from a surf standpoint…hurricanes have a tendency to send the strongest swell along their movement path, which means that while we don’t have storms make landfall, (and come along and stick it in sideways like they do to the East Coast sometimes), we also don’t always get the best swell that we could from these systems.
From a geographic standpoint the East Pacific tropical region runs from the west Coast of Central America, down to the equator, and then out to the 140W longitude line. The northern border is a little more flexible since storms have a tendency to die off as they hit cold water.
The Gulf of Tehuantepec and the surrounding areas have a tendency to be the storm incubator of the EPAC tropics. The mix of coastal geography, local wind patterns, and extremely warm water provide a good catalyst for storm formation. In most tropical seasons you can track a number of storms back to this little caldron that is located down along the coast of southern Mainland Mexico.
The ITCZ is short for “Intertropical Convergence Zone”, which is good that they gave it an acronym because writing the full term gets old fast. The ITCZ is an area where two different cells of air circulation meet along the surface of the ocean and push skyward. This convergence has a tendency to create a band of thunderstorms and tropical systems that are the early stages of tropical waves (and eventually full tropical cyclones). Anyway the ITCZ is more of a fluid entity than a fixed weather feature…oh it always exists…but it can move around and change intensity as different factors influence it. The ITCZ is important in the fact that it provides a low-wind zone for tropical storms to start their cyclonic rotation without being disrupted. From a forecast standpoint it is important to keep track of the ITCZ…the further north it drifts the better of a chance you have a storm formation…to close to the equator and you lose the Coriolis Effect.
Sea Surface Temps
When it comes to forecasting surf from hurricanes it is always important to keep an eye on sea-surface temperatures. Hurricanes need some very specific conditions to form and maintain circulation. One of the biggest factors is the ocean temps. The general rule of thumb is that a storm needs sea-surface temps to be at least 80-degrees Fahrenheit (or around 27-degrees Celsius)...and that temperature needs to extend down about 50-meters below the ocean surface. The storm doesn't actually draw that much energy from the water but it is more about the water temperature's effect on the air-mass directly above it. (this sort of gives me a headache...so I leave the heavy mental lifting to the NHC's big brains)
Due to limitations of public satellites it is hard to get a read on ocean temps beyond what you can see on surface but you can sort of guestimate where the pockets of storm potential water is.
Once a storm has moved out of the warmer waters it starts to lose power as its convection fails. This also means a lot of the storms winds start to lift up off the surface of the ocean and swell production is cut off, which is obviously a good thing to keep an eye on if you are trying to score surf from a hurricane.
Upper level steerage and sheering winds
On some levels hurricanes are actually pretty fragile weather systems...we already talked about their need for warm water/airmass which affects them from a surface standpoint...well they also need specific conditions to occur in the upper level of the atmosphere in order to start circulation. In particular they need some light/moderate winds blowing through the higher altitudes to sort of spark up the circulation that eventually becomes the full-scale cyclone convection. If these winds are too light then the storm won't spin up. The adverse is true as well...if the winds are too strong they will shear the top of the storm off, breaking the balance needed to maintain rotation.
One thing to watch is how the large scale wind patterns are moving through the tropical region...sometimes a storm will start in a favorable area only to move into a region that has more wind moving in the upper levels and it will begin to shear...and again once the storm starts to unbalance the surface winds get disrupted and swell production is shut down.
La Nina and El Nino (its Spanish for "the nino"!)
You hear a lot about El Nino/La Nina patterns in connection to hurricanes...and they do have a strong influence on the season as a whole...but it is good to think of it in terms of "potential" rather than a guaranteed stellar surf season. Both of these patterns represent the difference in SST's for the East Pacific region. An El Nino year means that the SST's are above average and the La Nina means that they are below average. The thing to keep in mind that there is quite a difference between an El Nino that is 0.5 degrees warmer than average compared to an El Nino that is a whopping 4+ degrees warmer. The amount of energy that it takes to heat a large area of the ocean is staggering and the more heat that is poured into it the more energy it will have to release later to equalize itself.
Here is the official definition from the Climate Prediction Center...
El Niño - El Niño, a phase of ENSO, is a periodic warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific along with a shift in convection in the western Pacific further east than the climatological average. These conditions affect weather patterns around the world. El Niño episodes occur roughly every four-to-five years and can last up to 12-to-18 months. The preliminary CPC definition of El Niño is a phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean characterized by a positive sea surface temperature departure from normal (for the 1971-2000 base period), averaged over three months, greater than or equal in magnitude to 0.5oC in a region defined by 120oW-170oW and 5oN-5oS (commonly referred to as Niño 3.4). El Niño, which would appear off the coast of Peru around Christmas time, is Spanish for "the boy" referring to the Christ child.
Basically when you break it down...an El Nino year means warmer water in the East Pacific Tropical region...more warm water means more potential hurricanes. La Nina means cooler water and less potential hurricanes…(Funny thing about that is the opposite is actually true for the US East Coast. El Nino means a less active tropical season while a La Nina means a more intense one. Damn can’t they make anything easy.)
And finally...this picture sums up the El Nino perfectly...
Ok enough science...lets get on to the surf.
Does your head hurt...yeah mine too...lets talk about the fun stuff...the surf that a hurricane can kick out.
Hurricane surf is pretty special...it has a tendency to be punchy, stacked up, and at the right spots...really hollow. It also can sneak in from swell angles that we could never get from normal southern hemi storms, which in turn lets it hit spots that are normally small and sheltered.
If you have been surfing for a few years you probably have a hurricane surf story...everyone does...they sort of go "remember hurricane 'blank'? Man I surfed this longboard-spot/reef/harbor-entrance/evil-lair-point-break...it was like double overhead and reeling!"
The thing is that hurricane swells feel magical...they usually hit over the summer when the water is warm and clear and the swell is so consistent that you surf until your arms want to fall off. When you start thinking about Hurricane swells in the terms of the waves that you will surf of course you want to score more and more of it.
Getting Hurricane Surf
When you get down to brass tacks hurricanes are similar, but smaller, versions of mid and upper latitude storms...so the same principles apply to them when it comes time for them to generate swell.
You may want to brush up on how waves are made...you can read my barely coherent ramblings on that here.
Here are the basic things that you need to keep in mind when forecasting surf from hurricanes.
Storm Size - The bigger the storm the larger the fetch, the more fetch the more potential swell.
Intensity - The greater the wind speeds the bigger the surf...generally goes hand in hand with storm size since the bigger storms have a tendency to have more intense wind speeds than the smaller systems.
Movement track - You want a storm to be moving toward you. Hurricanes that are moving are sort of like flashlights...the swell is sent out the along the movement track. So the longer the storm is moving toward your location the more swell (and bigger waves) you can expect.
Movement Speed - This is tied to movement track...a storm can move too fast and sort of outrun the swell it is producing, which limits both the quality and quantity. A slower moving storm will have time to build a better sea-state, which lets it build a better swell. A perfectly paced storm will actually create a "travelling fetch" which will let the storm pour more energy into waves that it has already created...basically building the swell without the need for faster winds.
Storm Track vs Storm Speed
Ideally if you want to get great hurricane surf you want the storm to be moving toward you at a slow to moderate pace. Now actually getting a hurricane to head your direction isn't all that probable...it is sort of like herding cats, (well if the cat was 300 miles across, didn’t respond to the slightest human stimuli, and could smash everything that you care about into tiny pieces…then yeah it would be just like that…where was I? oh storm movement) this is where good storm speed can help compensate for a bad storm track.
If we go back to the flashlight analogy...the faster a storm moves the tighter the beam of swell becomes. If a storm is stalled or moving at a very slow rate it is sending out energy in all directions but as the storm speed picks up the swell energy tightens along the movement path. This image is a good illustration of what I mean.
You can still get swell from a hurricane even if it isn't headed directly towards your location but the system needs to be moving at the correct speed in regard to your position.
These are good rules of thumb concerning storm speed.
1. The Storm is moving away from your location: You want the speed to below 2-knots
2. Storm is moving along a path 90-degrees perpendicular to your location: You want the speed to below 5-7 knots (depends on the storm size...a wider storm can be moving a touch faster).
3. Storm generally toward your location: You want the movement speed to be below 8-10 knots.
4. Storm is coming to punch your ticket and drive up your homeowners insurance: Then you can have storm speed up to 15-17 knots and still get swell...any faster and the system starts to outrun the swell energy…and probably your ability to escape to safety. (Man aren’t I cheery today)
While you can get hurricane swell at almost any time during the tropical season... Southern California definitely sees better hurricane swell activity as we move through the middle to end of the season. The reason for this is more due to the nature of the seasonal wind patterns than anything.
During the "Early Season", which runs from the spring into early summer, tropical systems have a tendency to track straight from east-to-west and move out into the open ocean.
As you get into the middle of the season, which is summer into early fall, the storms start to make a slight jog northward and eventually hook back toward land. This hook starts to line up the movement track with SoCal making it more likely for us to get waves.
Finally at the end of the season most storms are performing the “hook” sometimes right after they have formed. This is one of the more dangerous times to be along the Pacific side of Baja since storms can spin back toward land relatively quickly. They can cause a lot of damage even making landfall as a tropical wave or depression…remember there is a lot of dry land in baja that can’t hold a lot of water…so even a couple of inches of rain (or say the 30 inches a tropical storm can drop in a short period) can cause major flooding.
Naturally you want to be somewhere in the middle/end of the season where the storms have a chance of "aiming" towards SoCal and the Pacific side of Baja.
Swell Windows and Swell Directions
Swell windows are pretty darn important to Hurricane swells...more so than the bigger frontal systems. First off a hurricane is a smaller storm so the fetch is narrower and the swell is more focused...this compounded by the fact that hurricane swells generally have shorter swell-periods which don't wrap around corners as well as long-period swells. So if the storm is out of your swell window you are sort of out of luck...I have seen swells where the angle of the swell will cut off surf like a knife-blade as you move a 1/4 mile up a beach.
Generally Orange County and LA have the most SE’erly swell windows and can take in swells from 155-160 degrees…some of the other spots like north San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura start seeing swell around 170. Other very protected areas like the South Bay need a more traditional SW swell around 200 degrees (which isn’t all that common for a tropical systems.
My half-assed opinion on the 2008 tropical season.
Ok this post is way to freaking long...so if you made it all the way down to this part then you are probably at work, in class, or prison...somewhere where you have a lot of time on your hands.
Anyway I will try and sum up quickly...looking the long-range climate data from the CPC and the NHC it looks we may have a slower than average season. The CPC (Climate Prediction Center) is calling for weak La Nina condition for the EPAC for May, June, and July, which means less warm water available for storm production. Dr Grey over at the University of Colorado is calling for a stronger season in the Atlantic which usually indicates a slower season in the Pacific as well. They do expect the La Nina to weaken later in the summer, potentially increasing tropical storm activity as we head into late summer and early fall.
Personally, and my opinion of long-range climate models isn't really work all that much...I would basically expect a slow start to the tropical storm season, less major hurricanes and fewer named storms for the next few months. As we reach late summer this should turn around and become more active...setting up better swell potential as we head into the second half of the tropical season.
That is all I got for now...make sure to keep checking the blog I will probably talk about each tropical system as it forms throughout the season...either that or I will drink more this summer...I would say the odds are about 50/50 right now.
My favorite Hurricane Links
Here are a few of my favorite links to hurricane related stuff...I will drop these on my link list as well.
Climate Prediction Center
National Hurricane Center
Navy Research Laboratory Monterey
University of Hawaii - Tropical Page
FNMOC Ensemble Forecasts (good place to see upper level winds)
NOAA Sea-Surface Temps
We will have WNW energy and background S swell showing through the weekend. The WNW’er will actually be fading slow while the S swell fills in through the background.
Most NW facing spots will have sets going shoulder-overhead on Saturday with the top spots seeing some sets going overhead+. The more protected spots will be more in the chest-shoulder high range with a few head high sets sneaking into the top combo spots.
Sunday looks a touch smaller as the WNW’er continues to fade. Expect the overhead+ surf at the standout NW facing spots to drop off while the protected spots, mostly in Santa Cruz, drop to about shoulder high+ on the sets.
Winds look ok through the weekend. Look for light and variable winds through Saturday and Sunday morning with NW winds around 10-15 knots building in through the afternoons.
Basically I think you will get to pick your poison this weekend…plenty of spots to choose from thanks to the light winds and continuing WNW swell. Keep in mind that with the weekend that spots will likely be a bit more crowded…you might try and check spots like beach breaks where you have a little more room to spread out before you hit up the more popular point/reef breaks.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
New WNW swell (280-300) arrives and peaks in the afternoon and winds will remain light most of the day.
Look for most NW facing breaks to see consistent shoulder-overhead surf while the standout breaks see some sets going a couple of feet+ overhead.
More protected breaks will still be pretty fun with a lot of waves rolling through in the chest-head high range for most of the day.
You basically get to pick your spot tomorrow...beach breaks should be fun as well as the reefs/points. So just think about what you want to surf...chances are you will get a few fun ones.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Local winds finally start to back down and we should actually see some surfable conditions at the NW facing spots during the morning.
We will have a mix of steeper NW windswell and some background S swell. Most NW facing breaks see more shoulder-head high+ surf with semi-stacked up and windswelly shape thanks to the short-period nature of the swell. S facing spots will be in knee-waist high+ range on the better sets.
Winds will start off light for most of the exposed areas blowing out of the N around 5-15 knots in the morning...shifting a tad more NW by the afternoon.
Santa Cruz areas see light E winds and clean conditions through most of the morning.
Looks like there may be a touch of that new WNW swell starting to push in late in evening...right around sundown...it isn't really the main push of swell but just some smaller forerunners coming out of the lead elements of the storm. I expect that we will have a bit more consistency and a little more size as we head into the evening...but I am still looking for a bigger pulse of WNW energy to arrive as we head into Friday.
QuikSCAT was recording nearly 50-60 knots of wind in an area of fetch aimed mostly towards Baja and, to a lesser degree, Southern California
Here check out this chart
This is a close up of the storms core...see the black wind barbs...the ones with the little triangles indicate 50 knots of wind...the ones with the triangle and extra lines means +50 knots (10 knots for each full line).
And here is the lovely, yet super small, WWIII visual product viewer...along with my usual incredibly artistic arrows. (man I need to get adobe illustrator on my computer at work...photoshop is killing me).
Anyway this storm has been holding in place for a few days which is pretty good for swell production. It actually started off a little less intense...so it pushed out some weaker S swell before it set up a bigger lump of energy.
From a surf standpoint Baja Sur, in particular the Tip/East Cape areas, will see the biggest part of this swell.
SoCal will see a smaller, but still fun, version of the same swell at the good S facing breaks once the swell moves up into our area.
Here are the more specific details...
Baja will see this new S-SE swell (170-185) arrive on Sunday the 18th and fill in slowly through the day. Eventually the swell peaks on Monday and Tuesday (May 19-20) with surf in the shoulder-overhead+ range for most exposed breaks and top standout areas see sets going 2-3' overhead at times. It should be a fairly consistent swell in the Baja Sur/Tip area thanks to the open swell window...but expect size to drop off a touch as you move up the Pacific side.
SoCal will see this new S-SE swell (170-180) arrive on Monday May 19 and build slowly at exposed breaks throughout the day. It will actually be overlapping a smaller pulse of S swell already in the water so it should be pretty fun even though the bigger swell won't really get going through the afternoon. The S-SE'er will actually peak Tuesday and Wednesday (May 20-21). Look for the average exposed breaks to see chest-shoulder high+ surf. Standout spots, mostly through Orange County and a few other select areas, see head high and overhead sets. Weather (at least at this point) is looking good for this swell...cross your fingers that the wind forecasts hold together.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
WNW winds will continue to move down the coast around 15-25 knots most of the day. Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay area will see lighter N winds around 5 knots in the morning but even those will speed up in the afternoon.
Waves will be in the chest-overhead range at NW facing spots but with poor shape due to the strong winds. Look for S facing spots to be around chest high+ on inconsistent sets.
Not to tell you anything that you couldn’t figure out on your own (but hey I am a belt and suspenders sort of guy) but your best bet is to hit the protected areas…the more open spots will continue to spring thrashing. Oh and if you didn’t read the post about the WNW swell for the end of the week make sure to take a look.
The North Pacific storm track just won't quit this year...every time it looks like it is about to kick the seasonal bucket it spins off another storm. This latest system formed to the northeast of the Hawaiian Islands and is setting up fetch for Northern and Central California as it moves into the Gulf of Alaska.
While it is weak compared to "normal winter" reckoning it is still is very healthy considering that it is May. You can see on the QuikSCAT image below that it is showing winds in the 35-45 knot range right in the key areas of fetch.
Here are the details on this swell...
Look for the WNW swell from this storm to arrive throughout the day on Friday and then peak overnight into Saturday. Wave heights will be consistently in the head high to overhead+ range while the standout NW facing spots see well-overhead sets.
As a huge bonus winds and weather are going to cut us a break as well...the springtime gale that we have had for what seems like forever is finally going to back off right as this swell hits. Friday and Saturday will have clean morning conditions and only moderate onshore flow below 15 knots in the afternoons.
This swell isn't aimed very well for SoCal...we will see some energy but the brunt of the WNW energy (290-300) will be blocked by Point Conception.
Look for this new WNW-NW to arrive through the day on Saturday, peak late in the afternoon and hold into Sunday. Like I said above SoCal will be much smaller...mostly knee-chest high at the exposed breaks, but we may see a touch of S-SW swell in the water as well which would allow a few peaky sets to sneak through at the combo breaks.
Make sure to keep an eye on the offshore 49059 NOAA buoy...we should start to see some new energy showing around midday/evening on Thursday.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Is it not going to be much of a surf day, NW winds blow around 15-25 knots for most areas and a few of the more exposed breaks may have gusts nearing 30 knots. There will be some overhead NW swell hitting the open beaches but shape will be poor throughout the day.
The one exception is Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz in particular, is going to see light N winds through the morning. So spots with some protection from the N wind direction will start out cleaner than most of the region. Unfortunately those protected spots will also miss out on most of the swell. Expect these protected areas to see surf in the knee-waist high range with a few chest-shoulder high waves sneaking through at the standout combo breaks.
As for your best bet...it is going to be surf Santa Cruz early...or plan on doing chores/work/school if that is not an option.
Long-range is starting to paint a different picture...looks like we could have some decent WNW swell AND CLEANER CONDITIONS later this week. Check back I will likely post a swell alert later this evening.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
The gale force winds continue to howl in the outer waters and plenty of the breeze will make it to the beach as well.
Look for a mix of NW windswell and background S-SW swell for both days. NW facing spots see poor overhead surf. S facing breaks will have some knee-chest high surf on Saturday and maybe a touch more size on Sunday.
Neither day is looking particularly surfable...unless you stick close to the summer spots and those will be a bit bumpy even with the protection, not to mention crowded because every other spot will be blown out.
Personally I wouldn't plan on surfing...but if you live close to a S facing spot it may be worth checking a couple of times in the morning...you might be able to get a short session in.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
There may be a few rideable (being a relative term of course) waves at the protected areas but there are gale force winds moving through the coastal waters and eventually some of that will spill into all but the most sheltered breaks.
NW facing spots will be total poo. Strong onshore winds and sloppy well-overhead surf will be on tap for almost all exposed areas.
SW facing breaks will be in the waist-chest high range on the best sets but may see some slop coming around the “corner” so to speak that could add some bigger sizes.
If you have to surf hit up the summer spots early in the morning and then get out of the way and start drinking as the wind comes onshore the rest of the day.
This time it is a concert by ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro with the proceeds going to the "preservation of surf culture for the education and appreciation of current and future generations."
Like many of their events it sounds like a good time...and it is always sweet to go and check out all the historical boards and gear that they have on display.
Here are the details for the event (and the press release).
Jake Shimabukuro Plays at the Surfing Heritage Foundation
SAN CLEMENTE, Ca. -May, 2008. The Surfing Heritage Foundation will be hosting ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro on Sunday, May 25th. The concert will be held at the Foundation’s cultural heritage facility located at 110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente, CA 92672. Show time is 7:30 pm and doors open to the general public at 6:30 pm. General admission is $25. VIP tickets, which include dinner, drinks and premiere seating, are available for $75. Proceeds from the concert go to the Surfing Heritage Foundation and their ongoing work of preserving surf culture for the education and appreciation of current and future generations.
Jake Shimabukuro (she-ma-BOO- koo-row) is fast becoming recognized as one of the world’s top ukulele musicians. His virtuosity on the four-stringed instrument defies label or category, playing jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock, Jake’s mission is to show everyone that the instrument is capable of so much more than Hawaiian music. Jake has played and recorded with a treasure trove of other musicians including; Jimmy Buffet, Diana Krall, Fiona Apple, Bobby McFerrin, and Ziggy Marley. He has also appeared on The Late Show with Conan O'Brien.
Also on the bill for the evening is surf comedian Jaz Kaner, a silent auction featuring artwork and photography donated by Art Brewer, Ken Auster, Tyler Warren, Celine Chat and Jay Adler, and two special Kala Ukulele’s hand painted by artists, Wade Koniakowsky and Drew Brophy.
Surfing Heritage Foundation would like to recognize title sponsors, Heritage Global Solutions and Hoffman California Fabrics. Also supporting the event is: Crevier BMW & Mini, Rainbow Sandals, and Pacific Coast National Bank. In-kind support from; SC Times, Surfer Magazine, Karl Strauss Brewery, Barefoot Wines, Kala Ukuleles, Lost Energy Drinks, and Wahoo’s.
For more information on tickets, call (949) 388-0313 or email email@example.com.
You can also check out the Foundation on their website.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
NW facing breaks are going to be pretty torn up throughout the day.
Personally I think Thursday will be a good day to do something else…get caught up on chores, beat Grand Theft Auto IV, go to work…you know, the semi-important things.
If you have to surf and you don’t want to wade through the total poo of onshore wind slop that will be hitting at the open beaches, then plan on heading to the S facing spots and trying to pick off a few waist high+ longboard waves.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I think it will be surfable at the summer spots but with surf in the waist-chest high+ range for most of the exposed breaks. The NW facing breaks will have overhead to well overhead surf and poor conditions as the winds continue to push down the coast.
I feel like I am a broken record but your best bet will be the summer spots.
Try and stay away from the wind as best you can…well unless it is offshore at your mysto-secret-spot out in the stony forested coast somewhere…then go and live it up. Hey if you get out there make sure to say hi to my crazy hippy friend Checkabod for me…I haven’t seen that jerk in forever.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Anyway I am just off my meds…yeah the winds, windswell, and background SW swell will continue on Tuesday. Waves will be pretty similar to Monday with lots of sloppy overhead surf at the NW beaches while the summer SW spots drop to mostly waist high with some chest high+ sets at the standout breaks.
NW winds will blow nice and consistent throughout the day. NW flow holds 10-15 knots through the morning and then increases into the 20-25 knot range by the afternoon.
My tip for you…I know you will be surprised…is to head for the protected spots. SW facing breaks through Santa Cruz, and in other areas, will be much cleaner and surfable while the more exposed breaks take a beating with both wind and windswell. I know that spring sucks…hopefully we will be moving out of this pattern and into the “land-of-eternal-fog-ummer” soon.
Like I mentioned in the first post (click here to read the first one) the majority of this energy is heading towards Central America and Mainland Mexico…but Baja Mexico and Southern California are going to see some playful sized waves from this one as well.
Rather than retype all of the previous alert I through it in a picture this time. (The chart is actually the NOAA wavewatchIII peak-wave period forecast showing what will be happening late on May 10th. The giant red-orange blog eating Central America is the S swell. Click on the picture to get a bigger view.
In case you want to see what I wrote about this swell last week…
S Swell Alert - New S swell brewing up around Antarctica
Sunday, May 4, 2008
We will have strong mix of NW windswell and some fading SW swell holding at the summer spots.
NW facing breaks will be running in the head high to a few feet overhead range while the summer spots will have playful surf in the chest-shoulder high range with a few head high sets mixing in at the standouts.
The winds are looking decent through the morning…mostly light out of the S around 2-5 knots…maybe a touch textured for the Santa Cruz area but cleaner as you move up toward SF (and for a few of the central coast areas as well).
Onshore winds out of the W build in around 15-25+ knots by the afternoon.
Even though winds will be cleaner at some of the NW facing spots shape will still be a bit suspect thanks to the short-period nature of the NW swell. The summer SW facing breaks and good combo spots may be a bit more workable, particularly if the winds hold off through the morning.
Friday, May 2, 2008
We will have a mix of WNW-NW energy in the form of both windswell and a touch of medium period energy clawing its way out of the Gulf of Alaska.
Most NW facing spots will have consistent overhead surf through the weekend but shape will be poor as W-NW winds stay steady around 10-20+ knots.
SW facing spots will have a peaking SW swell (200-220) moving in to mix with the more dominant WNW energy. Most of these breaks will be chest-shoulder high but the standout spots and good combo breaks will have some head high+ sets on the right parts of the tide swing.
Like I said winds will be an issue this weekend. NW winds 15-25 knots will continue to blow through most of the exposed beaches both Saturday and Sunday. Look for the lighter winds through the Santa Cruz and Central Coast areas.
Best bet will be those SW facing spots…mostly through Santa Cruz but at a few other areas as well. Every thing else is going to be pretty bumpy…
But since 3 year olds can go to surf contests and sit on the beach I decided to torture myself by taking photos of Lowers this morning.
Really it is almost to painful to talk about…here just look at the pictures and you will see what I mean. I took all of these photos within about 35-40 minutes of arriving at Trestles.
(if you get this post as an email you may have trouble seeing the images…make sure to go to the blog itself to see all the gory details).
Lowers version of a skatepark
Look it breaks both ways!
Sick series...seriously the guy had 3 more turns that I could have put in this series that were just as good.
Set out the back
Well at least it is not a Toll Road...
They pimped my ride...man takes me right back to gradeschool
Some of the rights were connecting down to the whitewash at Middles
It was almost impossible not to throw spray
A frustrated pack at Uppers...lots of people burning each other while yelling swear words at the contest.
Even Middles had a couple of decent ones
As you can see it was a bit hard to watch...and fortunately for my sanity the wind started to pick up so I had an excuse to go home.
But if you have some time to kill this afternoon check out the full album...I shot about 200 photos so expect to take a while to get through them.
Click on the photo icon below to go to the gallery...
|6.0 Lowers Pro Photos 5.2.08|
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Here is the link http://www.nike6lowerspro.com/
Here is the actual forecast...effective for Friday May 2.
Friday the new SW swell will start to peak and conditions will continue to improve.
The surf will be a mix of new, peaking, SW swell (200-220), fading NW windswell, and some background S-SW energy that is helping to fill in a few of the gaps.
Wave heights will be in the chest-shoulder high range on the average sets and there will be some shoulder-head high+ sets sneaking through as the tide fills in.
Conditions will continue to clean up for Friday morning. Look for mostly light and variable to light offshore winds below 5 knots through the morning. Winds will shift light onshore around lunchtime, and then will pick up out of the W-WNW around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.
Expect similar wave heights and conditions to hold into Saturday.
Swellwise we have a mix of new long-period SW swell (200-220) and some steady (but slightly smaller) NW windswell.
Most NW facing spots will see head high+ surf but with poor shape. SW facing breaks will be closer to chest-shoulder high on inconsistent sets. The best SW combo breaks will have some head high sets mixing in at times.
Winds will be out of the NW most of the day...holding 10-20 knots from SF northward and closer to 5-15 knots as you move south towards the Monterey and Central Coast areas.
Again your best bet is going to be the protected areas...there is just too much wind and bump to make the other spots really worth surfing. Stick with the summer/springtime breaks and you should be able to pick off a few fun ones.
The good news is that a well positioned storm has spun up just off the coast of Antarctica. The storm has some decent wind speeds, a wide area of fetch, and is moving in a good direction. This system will be kicking out a large S-SW swell for Central America and Southern Mainland Mexico while at the same time sending some healthy, but more playful sized, surf to Baja and Southern California.
The Bad news is that the swell will hit over Mother's Day weekend. So unless your mom rips chances are you won't get to travel to score some waves on this swell.
Here are a few charts that highlight this storm and incoming swell...
There are a couple of things to note about this storm...from a positioning standpoint the core of this storm is almost out of the SoCal window...not quite but right on the edge for many of the SoCal regions...fortunately the fetch is pretty wide so edges of the swell direction will be a little "fuzzy". If it had moved a touch further eastward the swell would have been going back against the grain of the storm track and would have had a really hard time making it to SoCal.
Also this swell won't have to squeeze through the South Pacific islands which is an extra-bonus for socal. With a cleaner shot at SoCal we will actually see a bit more size and consistency from this one than we would from a more SW'erly angled swell.
So onto the swell details...
Central America and Southern Mainland Mexico
The main push of the swell is definitely aimed towards Central America...and due to the position of the storm it will last for several days after it peaks.
At this point expect the new SW swell (it has more of a 200-degree swell direction in this region) to hit late on May 8th, build fast through the morning of the 9th, and then peak in the afternoon of May 9th into the 10-11th. Look for surf running well overhead through the 9th with sets starting to hit double-overhead+ at the standout spots by the afternoon. Those waves will hold through the weekend before slowly trailing off through the first part of the next week.
(Please note that Southern Mainland Mexico is about 1/2-3/4 of a day behind on arrival times so the peak of the swell still hits on the 10-11th but shows less energy on the 9th).
The S swell arrives in baja Sur late on the 9th, builds through the day on the 10th and peaks more in the afternoon of the 10th into the 11th. It will be a bit smaller through this region...so look for plenty of shoulder-head high sets at exposed breaks and overhead+ sets at the standouts along the Tip. Expect slightly smaller surf the further north you move along the Pacific side.
SoCal will have a smaller, but still fun version of this S swell (180). This swell will arrive later on the 10th and will fill in more overnight eventually peaking exactly on Mother's Day (May 11th) and holding into the 12th. At this point we can expect chest-shoulder high surf for most of the exposed areas in SoCal. Orange County, in particular North Orange County, will have some head high+ sets at the top breaks.
NorCal will be a bit left out from this swell...the storm is just a bit too far out of position to get a good punch of swell to the north coast. Look for waist-chest high+ S swell to hit mostly on the afternoon of the 11th and then peak into the 12th.
This one is still a long ways off so you should have time to get your Mom the gift she really needs...A family vacation to Costa Rica! (yeah...good luck with that).
Make sure to check back I will have more updates on this swell as it gets closer. As always if you get some good pictures of this swell send them my way.