West Coast Surf Forecast

I must have been really good this year because we have a lot of storm activity still swirling around in the North Pacific and plenty of swell lining up for the holiday break, Christmas Day, and probably all the way through the end of 2009…which is exactly what I asked for in my letter to Santa.

West Coast Surf Forecast

All kidding aside the North Pacific is continuing to look nice and active. Here on Monday (Dec 21) we already have another round of W-WNW swell (275-300) hitting the West Coast that will hold waves, and bring some fugly weather, through the middle of the week. Despite trashy NW winds on Tuesday I do expect the back end of this swell to clean up pretty fast, possibly opening some surf windows by Wednesday but definitely improving by Thursday (Christmas Eve).

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This isn't the only swell that hits this week either…there are actually 2 more that will push in over the next few days. A longer-period WNW-NW swell (285-300) arrives later Wednesday night and fills in a bit more on Thursday…and then a better shot of WNW energy (280-300) arrives throughout the day on Christmas and peaks through the afternoon and into the 26th.

Further out there is a larger looking storm forecast to form in the North Pacific that has some potential to send a solid WNW swell (280-300) into Northern and Central California late on the 26-27th…setting up some well-overhead to double-overhead+ surf for many spots and triple overhead+ at the really exposed deepwater spots. This same swell will move in and peak through Socal on the 27th and while it is smaller than up north it still looks good for consistent shoulder-head high surf at most spots and sets going a couple of feet overhead at the best winter standout breaks. West Coast Surf Forecast

Waaaay out the back there is even more storm activity threatening to form…but this stuff is so far out of the charts that it isn't worth getting into too much detail…basically if the storms form we could be looking another couple of shots of WNW swell, one hitting on the 30th and another possibly lining up for Jan 1-2nd of 2010. Here just check out the long-range forecast from the swell model…I strung the forecast images together (right) and put numbers roughly where each of the upcoming swells will be as we move along.

The South Pacific will be sending us a little present this year as well…nothing huge (probably the equivalent of getting a fruit basket or something)…just a playful SSW swell that hits on the Dec 22nd and another slightly larger chest-shoulder high S swell (mostly for Socal) that hits on the 24-25th). Not much on tap after that…but it is nice to see that there might be some combo swell to open up the beach breaks since there will be extra bodies in the water over the holiday break.

Here are the details for the next few days…

Northern California
Overlapping WNW energy, both long and short-period stuff) will push through the Northern and Central Coasts on Tuesday and Wednesday…unfortunately it looks like weather will be an issue too as a cold front slides down the coast setting up stiff NW winds and "witch's nipples" cold air temps. As usual the North and Central Coasts have some spots that are protected from the seemingly ever-present NW winds that blow most of the year…so while the beach breaks will be shot there will be plenty of nooks and crannies that stay protected. So for the first half of the week we can expect consistent overhead+ surf at the exposed spots and sets going several feet overhead at the standouts. During the second half of the week conditions clean up and the swells start to groom out a bit as well. Look for more overhead+ at most areas while the standouts start to see surf hit the double-overhead mark. By Dec 26th the new, much bigger WNW swell (280-300) starts to arrive, likely peaking in the afternoon and then overnight into the 27th. This one looks solid for double-triple overhead surf at the top breaks and some bigger sets at the deepwater standouts…not sure how weather will hold up for this one…but at this point it doesn't look horrible.

Southern California
New WNW swell that moved in on Monday will peak overnight into Tuesday as local winds turn onshore and try to hack it apart.

The swell will be good for chest-shoulder high surf at the average WNW facing spots and some shoulder-head high+ surf at the NW standouts in Ventura, the South Bay, and most of all San Diego (southern San Diego). Wednesday will see similar sizes but the winds may start to shift around to a slightly more northerly direction, which will let more spots start to clean up…I think that surfwise Wednesday is still on the bubble since the swell is going to be pretty lumpy anyways, even marginal wind isn't going to let it clean up very much and by Thursday conditions swing around and winds go offshore.

And while the overall size of the swell mix drops slightly the periods start to lengthen and the S-SSW swell starts to increase, which looks like it will set up some playful waves at the better combo breaks. By Christmas we will see another pulse of WNW swell (280-300) and more S swell so look for the peaky shape to continue, maybe you will even get to try out your new surfboard. The bigger WNW swell (280-300) begins moving in after dark on the 26th and peaks on the 27th…and like I said above…it looks good for some easy chest-shoulder high+ surf at the average W-WNW facing breaks while the standout spots see some head high and overhead+ set waves filtering through at times.

OK that is what we have for now…it is really nice to see this much activity in the forecast, hopefully this winter storm track can stay nice and active all the way till spring.

Happy Holidays!
Adam Wright