West Coast Weekend Surf Forecast And Why The West Coast Loves Fall!
Hey Gang welcome to my first ever surf forecast for TransWorld SURF! I’ll be posting these forecasts a couple of times a week—usually on Monday and Thursday—and they will be sort of a mix of surf forecast, random tips on meteorology and oceanography, and the other (sometimes-useless) bits of information that manage to crack through my advanced case of adult ADD. OK enough about my issues let’s get on to what matters…the surf!
Since this is the first update let’s set the stage a little bit…seasonally we are heading into the middle of Fall, which most of you as surfers know is the bread and butter of California surfing. Yeah…Winter can see a freight-train of NW swells, Summer has its warm water and Southern Hemi swells, and Spring…well spring just sort of blows…but Fall is where West Coast surf all starts to come together.
Fall from a swell-perspective is a special time…we get waves from all over…our North Pacific storm track starts to fire up activity, the Southern Hemi still has plenty of strong systems trying to chew off parts of Antarctica, and our local East Pacific Tropics still have a few storms rattling around in our swell window as well. All of these areas are still active enough to kick out some occasionally significant swells…but mostly they send out steady, playful sized surf…stuff that normally wouldn’t be all that special but when they blend together can become magical.
What puts the icing on the cake though is the local weather. We generally see this East Pacific High-Pressure, (which is a ridge of pressure that is basically semi-permanent over this stretch of ocean), shift closer to the West Coast, even bridging across the Pacific NW all the way to the Rocky Mountains. As this happens it does two things that are good for surf…#1 It opens the North Pacific storm track and #2 It kills off the NW winds that usually hack up West Coast surf most of the Spring and Summer. As this High-Pressure shifts around it will set up the offshore (Santa Ana) flow that occurs in the Fall…and helps pump in the warm desert air that props up our beach temps (and clear skies).
So far this Fall has been following what I would call a typical seasonal pattern…mostly lighter winds, particularly in the mornings, and some steady fun-size combo swell coming in from a variety of storm activity across the Pacific. It does however, I guess on the gut instinct level, feel more “active” than we have seen the last couple of Fall seasons…in particular the North Pacific seems to have taken it up a notch, which if it can continue to follow this trend could be a good sign for the upcoming winter.
Finally the forecast…
After looking at the forecast charts this morning it looks like all of the West Coast is going to see a good run of surf, and decent conditions, for the next several days. This is due to a mix of steady WNW-NW swells, some less consistent Southern Hemi action, and some potential tropical energy from newly formed Hurricane Rick.
As you can see in the image on the right, the NPAC (North Pacific) storm track is rolling along nicely…over the next 4-6 days we are going to see a series of storms push across the Central NPAC and into the Gulf of Alaska, aiming almost directly at the West Coast. This is going to send a steady stream of WNW-NW energy to California over the next few days. The majority of the size will impact along the North and Central Coasts but enough energy will make it down into Southern California to keep us riding.
The Long-range charts are showing an even stronger system brewing up later this weekend that has the potential to put a large WNW-NW swell (290-300) into Northern California next Wednesday (Oct 21-22nd)…it looks good for double-overhead surf at the top spots and possibly some bigger sets at the standout breaks.
Socal will see a smaller version of this swell…mostly chest-shoulder high at the better NW breaks, possibly some head high+ sets at the standout NW spots…the swell arrival lags a little bit behind NorCal…so we can expect it to hit around the 22nd-23rd.
We will also have a playful SW swell moving in next week, this one getting kicked out by a storm down by New Zealand last weekend. This SW’er (200-220) will start to arrive on Monday the 19th across the West Coast and will peak the 21-22nd with shoulder high+ sets at the top summer spots.
If that wasn’t enough we also have Hurricane Rick (left) starting to cruise through the EPAC tropics…and while he isn’t in the California swell window yet it does look like there is some potential for him to move into it over the next few days. I am not putting a lot of faith into the current forecast because tropical storms are notoriously hard to forecast out past 48-72 hours…but at least there is some potential for new SE swell for Socal by the middle of next week.
I know that I threw a lot of information at you guys for the first post…I will be able to dial it down a couple of notches as we go forward…so let me sum up the conditions/surf for the next few days for each region.
NorCal can expect a steady stream of consistent head high to a couple of feet overhead W-NW swell (270-300 from a couple of different storms). These sizes will hold through the weekend and into early next week. Conditions look good on Saturday but might get a bit breezy on Sunday/Monday…and then it looks like much nicer Fall conditions, even offshore winds setting up by the middle of next week. Look for more SW swell early next week…and the potential for a larger NW swell (285-320) hitting by Wednesday/Thursday.
Socal will have dropping surf as our mix of W-NW swell (275-300) and S swell (180-200) backs off into the weekend. Fortunately there will still be a couple of NW pulses (290-300) and some background S swell to hold rideable waves in the chest-shoulder high range at the better exposed breaks. New SW swell starts to show late on Monday and there is the potential for a steep NW swell (295-300) for the middle-end of next week. Weather looks good for Saturday, a little breezy Sunday/Monday, and then returning to nice Fall conditions by the middle of next week. It will be worth keeping an eye on Hurricane Rick as well, there is a chance we could be seeing some new SE swell by the middle of next week as well.
That is all I have for this update…and as you can tell I have a lot to keep an eye on this weekend…I will probably be back with even more good swell news by Monday.