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Forecaster Report

Southern California

Report Date & Time: April 22, 2014 6:45 AM
By forecaster: Nathan Cool
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Surf Synopsis
Today (Tuesday) NW is fading but there is still a lot of swell in the water, and southern hemi lingers to a lesser degree. Wind swell is expected tonight into Wednesday. Southern hemi ground swell is due to hit SoCal Saturday the 26th into early next week, and it looks like we'll see some NW ground swell this weekend as well. NW ground swell is being tracked for Monday the 28th into Tuesday the 29th. And SSE ground swell is being tracked for the 2nd. Condition-wise: cooler weather today with some warming Wednesday, but then big change Friday with rain chances in the forecast; winds problematic onshore for the remainder of the week, but we may see an offshore event next week; the tide is moderate but our next lunar event occurs this Monday; and water temps are fair for now, but upwelling is possible shortly.

Early this morning, periods were primarily running 14 seconds from 305° and 15 seconds from 190-210°. Most west facing breaks were seeing chest to head high sets. Direct south facing spots were running chest high, bigger at SW exposed spots.

Note there is an elevated the risk of rip currents, especially at west facing breaks and especially during the outgoing tide. The NWS has issued rip current warnings as well.


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Swell Forecast and Schedule
Buoys in the outer waters are running 8-10' and nearshore buoys show combined seas at 2.7-3.4' with southern hemi being about 1.0-1.4' of that.

The tide will swing wider over the next few days as we approach a New moon Monday the 28th, although the extreme depths will occur outside of daylight hours. Today we had a 4.4' high around 4:45 AM, we'll see a 0' low around 11:00 AM, and then a 3.9' high around 6:00 PM.

Water temps were running 60-62° in most of SoCal, although Zuma recently checked in at 59° and Santa Barbara Harbor reported 58°. Note that onshore winds will be strong over the next few days, which could induce another upwelling resulting in cooler water temps in a couple days.

Swell-wise: Yesterday saw more NW swell than expected in SoCal from that Western Pacific originating system that slammed Washington with 22' seas Sunday. While models showed only a fraction of this swell would make it south to SoCal, this set off buoys like Harvest Platform with 14-16' seas yesterday. Today though, the swell angle is well over 300° — unlike yesterday where swell was angled from right around 290°. South facing breaks today once again are seeing mostly NW wrap, but there is an ever-present flow of background southern hemi in the mix.

The low pressure system associated with the NW swell is dropping south toward SoCal right now, which should stir up wind swell in SoCal tonight into Wednesday the 23rd. This is expected to make for combined seas of NW wind and ground swell to produce at least head high sets at west facing breaks Wednesday, but with poorer conditions.

NW wind and ground swell should then back off Thursday the 24th, more so Friday the 25th.

Saturday the 26th should then see a SW/NW swell combo, with SW swell looking like the dominant swell. As you may recall from earlier reports, the SW is from a system that formed last week south of French Polynesia, upgraded 48 hours ago with 35' seas (versus 30' forecast last week). Stronger swell means longer periods, which means an earlier arrival in SoCal as well. Running the numbers this morning, it looks like 190° swell with periods as long as 20-21 seconds should arrive Saturday the 26th, although possibly intermittent, with average size head high at south facing breaks. When swells like this initially show up, caution is advised to carefully watch the horizon before a paddle-out as bigger sets can come through at times farther outside, possibly a foot or more overhead on the bigger set waves.

West facing breaks on Saturday should see NW ground swell from the Aleutians. This morning this system is sitting just south of the Aleutian Chain with estimated 27' seas. This is expected to be its peak event, dissipating over the next couple days as it enters high Gulf latitudes. This should result in swell from 295-300° with 14-second periods in the chest to at times head high range Saturday the 26th at west facing breaks.

So by Sunday the 27th, both west and south facing breaks should be seeing a heck of a lot of swell, at least head high at south facing spots and at least chest high at west facing breaks.

Note that Saturday may not have the best conditions as strong winds are expected (see below). Sunday should have cleaner surf. And with the combination of strong swell and onshore winds, Saturday could have a very high rip current risk, more so than Sunday (which still holds high risk of rip currents).

Monday the 28th should still see plenty of SW swell, although periods will be shorter so size and power will drop. NW swell has the bigger question mark in the forecast right now. The 84h+ wave models show a western Pacific system gaining strength as it heads into the Gulf of Alaska, yet weather models say a strong ridge of high pressure will force any such activity far to the north. At this point, it looks like we may see chest max waves at west facing breaks Monday the 28th or Tuesday the 29th from this system.

Friday the 2nd has a chance to see steep angled SSE swell from a system on the 72h models spinning off Antarctica, headed towards Chile. Angled from 175°, this would be a tough angle for many breaks in SoCal. This does hold potential though for chest high surf at south facing breaks that can work this angle.


Here's how the day-to-day is breaking down so far:

Wednesday the 23rd is looking at chest to head high sets with questionable conditions at west facing breaks. Direct south facing spots are looking at waist to chest high sets.

Thursday the 24th is looking at waist high waves at south facing spots, chest high at west facing spots.

Friday the 25th is expected to see waist high waves most everywhere.

Saturday the 26th is expected to see head high sets at south facing breaks, possibly with intermittent sets and with overhead pluses possible. There may be long lulls between sets early in the day. West facing breaks are looking chest+ waves.

Sunday the 27th is expected to see head high waves at south facing spots with overhead pluses at standouts, and chest to at times head high waves at west facing breaks.

Monday the 28th is expected to see head high waves at south facing spots, and chest high at west facing breaks.

Tuesday the 29th is expected to see chest high waves most everywhere.

Wednesday the 30th, so far, is expected to see waist to chest high waves most everywhere.

Thursday the 1st, so far, is looking at waist to at times chest high waves at south facing spots, waist high at west facing breaks.

Friday the 2nd, so far, is looking at chest high waves at south facing spots, waist high at west facing breaks.


Weather Outlook
NOTE: NWS warnings in effect.
Two primary troughs of low pressure affect weather for the near term: a trough that's diving south to SoCal now, and another Friday. Each trough of low pressure will tighten gradients and produce windy conditions, increase the onshore flow, and drop temps. Today is looking at beaches reaching the low to mid 60s, then a little warmer Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's trough holds a slight chance of precip, perhaps trace amounts, but with temps very cool in the low 60s. Saturday looks similar for temps, but with rain chances currently not in the forecast.

Things then turn around next week as high pressure builds into the American West from the Pacific. Sunday should see earlier clearing with temps in the mid 60s, then possibly a little warmer Monday. Tuesday then may see a mild Santa Ana.


Wind Outlook
NOTE: NWS wind warnings in effect.
Winds at 7:00 AM were light and variable most everywhere with a southerly onshore element. Onshores are expected to increase by noon, reaching 20+ mph this afternoon. Same goes for Wednesday, with just slightly weaker winds Thursday. Friday is looking at onshores picking up very early and reaching 15-20 mph in the afternoon. Saturday could be blown-out early as onshore winds linger through Friday evening, then reaching at least 25 mph Saturday afternoon. Sunday should then see reprieve with light and variables early and afternoon onshores 8-12 mph. It is possible that we could see an offshore wind event by Tuesday the 29th as high pressure builds in from the Pacific...more on that in my next report...


Until my next report (Thursday), take care, be safe, and smile in the lineup!


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