1. Combo Swells
Fall is the turning point for Southern California’s surf. From September to November, southern-hemisphere south swells and Mexican hurricanes join forces with the North Pacific’s oil-tanker-crushing northwests. Whenever you see a southwest ground swell and a northwest wind swell peaking on the same day, just hope you aren’t running a business that depends on surfers.
2. Back To School
The clogged lineups of summer finally get relief when the elementary schools, junior highs, high schools, beauty schools, trade schools, JCs, universities, law schools, and KFC-management seminars reopen their doors and herd those packs of frothing, snaking, 22-and-unders away from your local break. School’s for losers-long live roofing!
3. Monday Night Football
Very little is as satisfying as having a surf with the bros after work, grabbing some food on the way home, kicking off your shoes, posting up on the couch with a Silver Bullet, and watching the Cowboys decapitate the Chargers.
4. Santa Ana Winds
During winter, spring, and summer, So Cal is the home of the onshore gale. Western winds seem omnipresent, except in the fall when the occasional four-day infusion of strong, dry offshores, called “Santa Anas,” bring Indian summer, hollow waves, and crystal-clear water.
There are few things in nature more beautiful than the smog-enhanced reds and oranges of an October sunset in Newport Beach. With sunsets this beautiful, who needs the environment?
6. Dolphins Replace Jellyfish
Would you rather sit in the lineup with some faceless gelatinous blob fringed in stingers or the intelligent, docile enemy of sharks? No contest, dolphins rule jellyfish and their evil cousin the stingray-the cowardly summertime pest most likely to ruin the only good beach day in July.
7. Short-arm Fullsuits
Along with being the most comfortable of wetsuit configurations, this warm yet flexible garment is also the bellwether of good surf. Like Pavlov’s dog, when So Cal surfers unearth their short-arm fulls from the backs of their closets, they begin drooling like the village idiot.
8. Glassy Conditions Prevail
Something about fall and the high-pressure weather systems that come with it creates a beautiful ocean condition known as “Irie Oil.” Nothing’s better than having super glassy water throughout the day.
9. Death To Blackball
As the summer hordes disappear, so do the lifeguards and their evil yellow and black flag that bans surfing in certain areas. Without special treatment for the underprivileged (i.e., bodyboarders, waders, the elderly, etc.), Darwinian order resurfaces and surfers return to the top of the pecking order.
10. Everything Breaks
From Coronado to Malibu, So Cal lights up like a Christmas tree in fall. Whether your spot’s the Wedge, Black’s, Taco Bell Reef, T Street, Swami’s, New Break, El Porto, or 54th Street, autumn is here … you better have some sick days accrued.