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I’m pretty much running out of ways to say this … but the North Pacific storm track continues to punch out swell after swell, sending surf all over the Pacific. It is almost like that movie Groundhog Day…look waves again, oh and another swell, yep there is more surf.
Anyway enough of my bitching…there are way worse problems to have than running out of ways to say that swell is on the way…lets get on to the waves.
There has been a lot of swell this week, thanks mostly to that large, fairly intense, low-pressure that steamrolled through everyone's swell window earlier in the week. Hawaii got some supersize energy…enough to get the tow-in spots working. Check out some of the pictures from Jaws… I’m sure a whole set of Mavericks and Todos Santos ones are on the way too.
Forecast-wise…the trend of overlapping W-WNW swells will keep new surf heading into both Hawaii and the West Coast over the next few days…though the weather really starts to get squirrely for California as we move into next week.
That complex low-pressure that I have mentioned in the past few forecasts continues to be a dominant weather feature in the Northern Hemisphere. Over the last 10+ days or so it has held position over the Aleutian Islands…sort of held in check by a nice ridge of high-pressure over the SW United States that has, at times, stretched almost completely over to Hawaii.
Unfortunately that high-pressure is going to break down over the weekend and open the door to a very wet storm track. Looking at the models this afternoon (keep in mind that we are still several days from these systems forming) it looks like the complex low is going re-position itself into the Gulf of Alaska and run a train of cold fronts right over Southern California, basically drenching all of California and the Pacific NW in the process.
There is so much moisture getting scooped out of the sub-tropical jet that the National Weather Service is freaking out…the big brains over in the LAX office are calling for 4-8 inches of rain between Sunday and Friday Jan 17-22 of next week…with some of the coastal mountain ranges seeing the potential for 12-20 inches of rain in some areas…I think they are about 2-3 forecasts away from telling us to start building arks.
The rain is set to move into the North/Central California coasts later this weekend, eventually hitting SoCal late Sunday (but more really on Monday). The really sucktacular part is that South winds will be on the rise along with the rain, and some new W-WNW swell that the stormy conditions brew up before they get to the coast.
This onshore wind/rain will slacken off a bit on Tuesday but another front will slam through on Wednesday and yet another one sets up for Friday and the following weekend. Personally I hope that the forecast models are getting a little over-enthusiastic…SoCal isn't made to handle that much rain. Looking on the positive side…we will get a ton of new snow and if it does rain that hard there will be a lot of new sandbars forming up thanks to the runoff.
One thing that is worth keeping in mind is that even though the "overall" weather picture looks pretty crappy next week, these conditions are very dynamic and can do all sorts of weird things as the move through…stuff on such a small "local-scale" that the models can't really give us a clear picture of it. I always think that it is worth keeping an eye on local conditions if we have swell in the water…even if the forecast doesn't look that good…it is very possible for small windows of surfable conditions to form, let you guys score a few, and then go back to being crap…basically it pays to keep an eye on things.
Here are the details…
Look for consistent WNW swell (290-330) and easterly trade winds for Friday and Saturday… lots of surf in the overhead range with some sets going several feet+ overhead at the standout breaks. By Sunday a new WNW swell (300-330) moves in with about 12-14 feet of deepwater energy @ 15 seconds… so most of the directly exposed North Shore spots will push into the double-overhead+ range with bigger bombs lurking around as well. The top spots will be even bigger as the swell peaks into Monday. Look for a slow fade, with plenty of waves still showing, as we move into the middle of next week.
Look for steady, good-sized, W-WNW swell (260-300) holding on Friday. Wave heights will be in the shoulder-overhead range for the average W facing breaks while the standouts will be several feet overhead and bigger as they pull in and focus more of the swells energy. Conditions will be good on Friday…East winds in the 10-15 knot range will set up mostly offshore conditions and sunny skies for much of the region. Take advantage if you can…the wet weather and building S-SW winds start to move back in on Saturday and we can expect alternating S-SW to NW winds in the 15-20+ knot range for most of next week. More WNW swell moves in along with the weather but it looks like most of the well overhead size will be hacked apart by the conditions.
Look for clean conditions and slowly backing down W-WNW swell (275-300) on Friday and Saturday. Most spots will continue to see surf in the chest-head high range with sets going overhead on the lower tides. The standout breaks will have surf in the shoulder-overhead range with some sets still hitting the 2-3' overhead range at times. Saturday will be a little bit smaller… more shoulder-overhead at the top spots, less consistency overall as well. By Sunday more WNW energy starts to filter back in, holding wave heights in about the same size as Saturday. Sunday afternoon the swell mix starts to increase a touch and the S-SW winds start to spin up as well… hopefully they will stall out enough that we have a little more of a surf window on Monday, but don't hold your breath. Expect consistent head high and overhead surf for most of the beginning of next week, but onshore winds and rain on tap as well. My advice get some while you can.
Have fun and stay safe!