Weekly Pacific Ocean Surf Forecast

Hell yes…a forecast that I can actually sink my teeth into. From a storm perspective this summer has been dull. The SPAC did OK, managing to scrape together a couple of decent sized S-SW swells, but they were a bit spaced out and since the tropics have been super slow this summer there wasn't much to fill in the gaps.

But now…now we are heading into fall and after taking a good look at the charts it felt like a giant hand just strummed a giant electric guitar and the whole ocean is suddenly humming with new storm activity brewing all over the place. I know not everyone that reads this forecast is from Southern California…but those of you that are, you already know the Fall Season is a special time of year…and man I am ready for this one to get rolling

North Pacific
In the real short-term the North Pacific is still holding the summer pattern…but just a few days out into the forecast the weather/wind models have it starting to destabilize. In fact there is a little cold front starting to pulse to life in the Gulf of Alaska that is pushing the high-pressure out of the way, just in time for the tropical wave (the one I mentioned coming off Japan in the last forecast) to hit the cooler high-latitudes and start cranking out some wind, and eventually some swell.


Keep in mind that this storm doesn't have energy anything close to what a "real" winter storm would have…but considering that we are still in the first half of September, seeing some decent circulation in a position that can send some waves to both Hawaii and parts of the West Coast is a pretty damn good thing.

As you can see on the chart above…this storm won't actually form for about 4-5 days…but if it pulls together the way that this model is showing…Hawaii would see this new NW swell (310-330) moving into the exposed areas of the North Shore later Saturday afternoon (Sept 18) and then peaking with overhead+ surf on Sunday morning (Sept 19). The West Coast, mostly the Pacific NW on down through Central California would see some head high+ surf hitting on Monday (Sept 20) and SoCal would get a much smaller, shadowed version on Tuesday (Sept 21). For Socal I would expect waist high and below, at least at this point…but if the wind manages to be stronger in the lower latitudes of this storm we might be able to add some surf size as we get closer.

East Pacific Tropics
The EPAC tropics is about the only place in the Pacific that is sucking. No new tropical storms, not even areas of interest at this point. I guess we will have to make do…


If you want some tropical surf…head over to the East Coast…they have plenty.


The South Pacific
For the West Coast…basically Socal down through Central America…the next significant swell will be coming from the South Pacific.


We have a series of S-SW swells heading our direction…in fact…a leading storm already pushed in some semi-playful S swell for the last weekend and is currently fading out, as it mixes with some background SW energy. Fortunately this storm was just an appetizer…its swell was fun…but it did its best work down in the storm track where it knocked open the ridge of high-pressure that had been blocking our swell window.

With an opening finally cracking in the ridge a strong storm, fueled by some warm tropical energy, set up a long string of fetch aimed at the West Coast and then funneled a series of fronts right down the barrel. The swell is already on the way and will be arriving as early as mid-week for Central America and Mainland Mexico with Baja and SoCal just a day or so behind.


This new S-SW swell (180-220) will start to arrive for many areas on Wednesday (Sept 15th)…with Socal and Northern Baja just getting some long-period energy on the buoys (but not much on the beach. The meat of the swell will arrive on Thursday through Saturday…with the initial portion of the swell coming in a bit inconsistent and smaller as it starts more SW'erly in its swell angle…but then gaining strength as the swell turns more S.

Central America and Mainland Mexico spots can expect steady overhead surf for most of the exposed areas (slightly smaller, at least at first in Costa Rica and Southern Nicaragua thanks to shadowing). The top spots will easily hit the double-overhead mark as this swell peaks as we head into the weekend.

Southern California will get this swell showing long-period (20-22nd second periods) late on Wednesday…but will see new size move in on Thursday, getting most areas into the chest-shoulder high range with some head high sets on tap by the end of the day. Look for the peak of the swell to hit Friday/Saturday (along with the best weather) with chest-shoulder-head high surf at the average S facing spots and some overhead sets at the standout breaks.

Since this storm had some legs (duration to it) I expect the energy to stick around for a few days after the swell peaks…so expect some rideable, but slowly dropping, surf as we head into early next week with the end of the swell finally trailing off around next Wednesday.

Random South Pacific Swell

Ok one last thing that I wanted to call out…check out this storm set to move out from under Australia. It basically tries to shave a chunk off Tasmania…the weather will probably be crap…but It would be rad to see how a spot like Shipsterns would handle a system like this.


Naturally a storm like this is going to send surf all throughout the Tasman Sea…hitting Western New Zealand pretty hard, and even driving some solid swell back up against the grain into the exposed areas of Australia. All of these areas are going to have a great chance at getting some big swell, but they are bit close to the weather part of this storm, so conditions may not be the best.

If I had to pick a location to try and score off this ridiculously strong system I would actually head up to the tropics…Fiji is actually in a great position to get a bunch of the energy without any of the weather. Check out the Magicseaweed wave model forecast for Fiji…


Looks like Cloudbreak could be scary big by the weekend…I know I would be in at Restaurants…or maybe just playing ping-pong onshore waiting for the swell to drop to less super-human sizes.

Anyway that is all I have for this update…these are much more fun to write when we have swell, and decent conditions on the way. Hope you all get a chance to pick off a few waves as the next round of swell hits. Socal guys/girls start working on your excuse for calling in sick on Friday…if you have a S facing spot it looks like you might want to find a way to snag a few.

The Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Friday, September 17, 2010.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster