The large NW swell (280-300+) hit Northern and Central California nicely over the weekend and even Southern California got a little action as a smaller portion of the energy made it past Point Conception. Heck, even I got out on Sunday for some playful head high rights that were working down my local beach.For detailed worldwide surf forecasts go to www.magicseaweed.com
Even better was that there was some serious surf coverage along the Central California Coast thanks to the O'Neill Cold Water Classic event that they held at Steamer Lane this weekend. Looking at a swell on a crappy, dirt and seagull-poop covered webcam is one thing…having a full production crew streaming a hi-def contest feed is a whole different ballgame. Anyway…you can check out a clip of the contest as the swell was peaking right HERE on our beloved TransWorld SURF Web site.
(It is worth noting, that while Steamer Lane was pretty big for this contest it was only partially exposed to this NW swell…most of the size it was pulling in was long-period energy wrapping in from the sea-shelf further off the coast. The spots with direct exposure were quite a bit bigger.)
Onto the forecast…
Over the last couple of days the North Pacific has sort of downshifted its storm production. Don't get me wrong there is still a lot of activity shifting around the storm track but overall it is quite a bit weaker than what we had last week.
Part of the issue is our lovely NE Pacific high-pressure…it is starting to reposition itself across the mid-latitudes and is basically gumming up the storm track by making the storms boost northward over the Aleutian Islands. This boost is greatly reducing the amount of fetch that would be aimed at the West Coast and is also decreasing the duration of the storm as well…or at least the time it spends blowing over the parts of ocean that matter to us. Check it out…
Fortunately there is still enough of a gap in the higher latitudes, and a weak spot in the high close to the California coast…both of which give the next few storms a little more wiggle room…not a lot, just enough to keep us from tailspinning into some sort of November flat-spell.
We are going to see a steady, but relatively weak area of fetch (30-35 knots) holding on the SE edge of the Gulf of Alaska for the next couple of days. This will keep some medium-period NW swell heading into Northern and Central California through the middle/end of this week. Eventually this storm will push closer to the coast and may bring some rain and building NW winds by Wednesday/Thursday.
Later in the week we have another, stronger looking, low-pressure moving into the Gulf of Alaska…it is still pretty northerly in position, which is bad for Socal, but it looks like it will kick out another decent-sized NW swell, with surf in the double-overhead+ range, for Northern California for around the 16th. That storm is about as far out as the charts go…so it still has several days to develop…make sure to check back on Friday as we get more details.
The South Pacific continues to be pretty boring…high pressure is killing us down that way too. Most of our swell action is coming from shadowed, less intense storms that are forming down around New Zealand. It looks like we are going to a series of small, maybe chest high, SW pulses sticking around through the middle of the month…and possibly a slightly bigger, chest high+, SW'er that shows around the 15th.
Northern and Central California
Nor/Cen will see that bigger NW swell drop from its peak over the weekend but still mix with plenty of trailing, shorter-period, NW energy from winds following that more intense system. Look for consistent surf in the overhead to well-overhead range at the average spots all the way through Wednesday/Thursday. Standout breaks will have some double-overhead sets mixing in at times. Conditions look good through early Wednesday as well…mostly light winds, even light-offshore in a few areas. By late Wednesday a new cold front starts to push down the coast bringing stronger NW winds and rain as well. The surf will remain about the same size through the end of the week but it will be made up of a lot more short-period windswell/stormswell from this approaching system.
SoCal will see a mix of fading WNW-NW energy, small SW swell, and weak local windswell through the middle of the week…nice conditions as well (though it will be foggy at times). Surf will be in the waist-chest high range at the average NW facing breaks. Top NW standouts in Ventura, the South Bay, and parts of San Diego, will be in the chest-shoulder high range with a few bigger sets through Tuesday…and then smaller and less consistent by Wednesday.
The cold front is expected to push/brush-past SoCal by Thursday…and possibly drive in some local windswell to help prop up the fading NW energy from earlier in the week. Unfortunately it looks like onshore bump, maybe even some rain, will come along with it. Wave heights will continue to hold in the waist-chest high range for many spots, top breaks will be a little bigger, but shape overall may take a beating. Look for cleaner conditions, but fading swell as we head into this upcoming weekend…hopefully there will still be enough swell to ride as the weather improves.
By Adam Wright