West Coast Swell Forecast: 10/16/2009

I think that this winter—which technically hasn't started yet—is already better than last year. We already have had a decent-sized W swell that has hung around for several days and some smaller but still fun NW swells that have moved in and filled in the gaps. Hopefully I am not jumping the gun by being excited about the 2009-2010 winter season, but it is hard not to be when we are already seeing some early season NPAC love.

This week the West Coast is going to get more of that NPAC action. We had moderate-looking low pressure move through our WNW-NW swell window over the weekend setting up some waves for the next couple of days.


Now, as you can see above, we have a much more intense storm, formed from the remnants of a West Pacific Tropical system that has gone extra-tropical (which is sort of like giving a storm a combo of HGH and some horse steroids) that will be kicking out a much bigger WNW-NW swell for the West Coast later this week. This storm is already showing some winds in the 45-55 knot range and may even have some stronger winds in the core…check out the QuikSCAT satellite pass below…these are recorded winds (not forecast ones) so it means that a good chunk of the swell is already in the water. This swell will start hitting the Northern/Central California spots around Thursday and will move into SoCal late Thursday, peaking more on Friday. (I will break out the details a bit later in the forecast.)

For detailed worldwide surf forecasts go to www.magicseaweed.com

That intense storm isn't the only one in the forecast either…a second low-pressure is expected to slip in behind this more intense system and follow it pretty closely across the high-mid latitudes, which allows it to capitalize on the energy set up by the first system.


This second WNW-NW swell (280-300) will hit later in the weekend and the early part of next week, Oct 24-26th, and while it won't be bigger than the swell this week it will help add a lot of extra "fun-sized" days to the run of NPAC swell.

The South Pacific isn't totally out of the mix either…there was a decent little storm down by New Zealand that sent up a new SW swell (200-220) that started to arrive on Monday and will peak at the exposed spots, with shoulder high surf, through the middle of the week both in Northern and Southern California. It isn't macking by any means but hopefully it will be able to cross up some of the NPAC energy. After this little SW pulse the SPAC goes pretty zonal so expect smaller, less consistent swells through the end of October.

The Tropics have had some excitement over the last couple of days…Hurricane Rick decided to scare the pee out of a few people by ratcheting up to Category 5 strength (core winds were around 185-200+ mph at times). Fortunately he has encountered some shearing winds that have slowed down his intensity, and while he is still a decent hurricane, he is much less of a threat.

Hurricane Rick

In the process of chewing up a large chunk of the tropics he managed to kick out a large SE swell for the Tip of Baja…that will be hitting over the next couple of days…as well as a smaller, but still healthy sized S swell for Northern Mainland Mexico. Looks like Ricky (above) will make landfall in Mainland Mexico, likely as a tropical storm, later this week. Great just what Central Mexico needs…more rain and more mosquitoes.

So that is pretty much the overview…here are some of the specifics.

Northern/Central California
Nor/Cen Cal will see a mix of W-WNW energy (280-300), from a storm that moved through our swell window over the weekend, over the next couple of days. Nothing super impressive sizewise…but still fun in the solid head high to a couple of feet overhead range through Wednesday. There will also be a few SW swell sets sneaking in…mostly in the chest-shoulder high range at the purely summer spots…but it might be enough to combo up the NW energy at the better exposed breaks.

By Thursday a new WNW swell (280-300) starts arriving early in the morning with some solid long-period energy…lots of 17-19 period stuff…and some good sizes. The swell will eventually peak by Thursday afternoon with consistent 7-8' faces for the average exposed spots, and sets going easy double-overhead at the standouts. The better deepwater breaks, will likely have even larger sets…wouldn't be surprised to see some solid triple-overhead faces at those breaks that really focus this sort of swell direction

Winds and weather look good for the next few days…even light offshore for the Central Coast spots through at least Wednesday…more normal NW winds develop later in the week but it should stay plenty clean for the bigger NW swell.

Southern California
Look for a playful mix of SW and WNW-NW energy over the next few days…nothing big…mostly in the waist-chest high range at the OK exposed spots…but with a few shoulder high+ sets at the standout combo spots, mostly in San Diego, parts of OC, and a few areas in Southern Ventura.

The larger NW swell starts showing a few new waves in the Santa Barbara and Ventura areas late Thursday afternoon. It will build in overnight and peak in most areas on Friday (Oct 23rd)…look for average spots to hold in the waist-shoulder high range while the NW standouts (mostly in San Diego) see some shoulder-head high sizes with a few breaks starting to go overhead on the best sets (and the lower tides).

Winds and weather look good for most of the week with light offshore winds in the morning and moderate to light winds in the afternoons. Man I love fall.

Have a good one…and watch those tide swings this week…the peak highs look a bit swamptacular at times.
Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster

For detailed worldwide surf forecasts go to www.magicseaweed.com