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Best. Winter. Ever. Well okay, I am not sure that it is the "best ever" but it has been pretty darn fun…decent conditions and swell after swell coming out of the lower (and much more active) North Pacific Storm track. This week isn't much different than the last month+ in terms of swell production either.
Currently we have a large storm sitting to the NE of the Hawaiian Islands that is moving steadily towards the west coast, its fetch just piling energy on top of the swell that it initially set up days ago. In fact it is basically blasting Hawaii here on Monday…the Hawaiian NWS/NOAA weather service branch has issued a double-warning for surf conditions across the north shores and even their relatively conservative surf reports are calling for 40'+ faces at times. Anyway the storm and the swell are going to make it over to the West Coast starting on Tuesday (hitting SoCal more on Wednesday/Thursday). It won't be quite as beefy as the Hawaiian version but it will still be ridiculously sized for the directly exposed breaks across the Pacific NW and through Northern California.
So for the last couple of days I have been watching the storm that is setting up waves for midweek and comparing it to the Wavewatch III model…and it is doing a pretty bang-up job of living up to the forecasts. At this point the storm has done the majority of the swell generation for the West Coast and we can expect a pretty big W-WNW swell to come up fast on Wednesday and hold solid surf through the end of the week. At this point, the directly exposed spots along the Pacific NW and North/Central California can expect a solid 15-18' of deepwater swell @ 15-17 seconds…which translates to an easy double-triple overhead sizes at the average spots and some 20-25' faces at the top breaks…standouts like Mavericks will see bigger sets. Weather doesn't look great for the region but it doesn't look completely unmanageable either. In SoCal I expect the top NW spots to see some legit double-overhead sets…but this swell still has a chance to come in a bit bigger…the storm will push toward us for at least another 12-24 hours…which if the winds in the fetch hold up, will put the whip-cream and the cherry on top of this swell.
The hits just keep on coming after this big one…there is another, more average sized storm that follows behind the big system…capitalizing on the sea-state that the first storm created…that will set up another shot of WNW swell that hits Hawaii around the middle of the week (Jan 13) and the West Coast on Friday (Jan 15th). So even while the bigger swell will be on the way down wave heights won't drop very fast.
Way further out there is yet another big/nasty looking system forecast to brew up in about 4-5 days…setting up another stupid-large WNW swell for all over…this one looks like it will put waves into the Hawaiian islands around the 17th…and into California on the 18-19th. The one difference in this storm that I noticed was that it is forecast to come and kick the crap right out of the high-pressure that has been protecting California, battering open the storm window, and possibly cracking open the nice conditions that we have enjoyed for the last couple of weeks. This bad boy is still a few days away from forming so check back in on the next forecast for more details.
Here are the forecasts for the local regions…
The WNW swell hitting Hawaii on Monday was large and in charge…Laird Hamilton large. Fortunately it will be on the way down by Tuesday…unfortunately it won't be dropping all that much, it will still be scary big Tuesday and Wednesday. It looks like the warnings for the North Shores will continue through the middle of the week, which means if you are looking for mellow (aka surf that won't kill you) waves then you should check out the sides of the island that offer some protection from the WNW'er.
Another large (but not as big) WNW swell hits on Wednesday keeping north shores in 16-18' of deepwater swell through Thursday…and just when you think there would be a break yet another shot of WNW-NW swell hits on the upcoming weekend…likely driving the surf back into the Warning levels by Sunday (Jan 17).
Solid WNW swell (260-300) hits on Tuesday and builds overnight into Wednesday. This one looks good for easy double-triple overhead surf at the average W facing breaks…with 20'+ sets at the standout NW breaks. Deepwater spots that can really focus this swell, like Mav's will have some 25-30' faces…maybe bigger at times. Weather looks sort of funky during the middle of the week as the storm setting up the swell moves through the Pacific NW…expect rain and S-SW winds around 15-20+ knots by late Tuesday and steady SW-W-WNW winds blowing through on Wednesday. Conditions try and clean up later in the week. Further out it looks like well-overhead+ surf will continue through the end of the week and then get yet another boost into the double-triple+ overhead range by the 18th.
W-WNW swell hit SoCal pretty well on Sunday/Monday…lots of surf on tap for the exposed spots. This swell will back down a bit on Tuesday but still send in plenty of fun waves in the shoulder-overhead range to the WNW facing breaks. The bigger W-WNW swell (270-300 but with most of the energy around 285-300) moves in fast on Wednesday, peaking in the afternoon and holding through Thursday.
This one looks good for easy shoulder-overhead surf at the average spots. Top WNW-NW breaks, mostly in Ventura, The South Bay, and San Diego, will have consistent overhead+ surf with sets going several feet overhead….probably even a few legit double-overhead waves at the spots that can really focus the swell (and hold that sort of size). Look for a slight drop in size on Friday but it will still be overhead+ at the top spots and, thanks to another shot of smaller WNW swell, it should hold steady around that size through the weekend. Yet another solid WNW swell (and possibly some weather too) forming up for the 19th.
Have fun and stay safe!