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Forecaster Report

Southern California

Report Date & Time: April 15, 2014 7:15 AM
By forecaster: Nathan Cool
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Surf Synopsis
Today (Tuesday) we have a small to moderate mix of NW and SW swell in SoCal. NW wind swell increases Wednesday, but models are downgrading that today. A small NW ground swell is then due Saturday the 19th, and then a moderate southern hemi swell is due Sunday the 20th. Southern hemi swell is expected to linger into early next week. Models still show potential for NW swell for Tuesday the 22nd but models are downgrading this today. Southern hemi models continue to show potential for SW groundswell by the 28th. Condition-wise: onshore flow dominates the forecast this week; winds have been downgraded this morning; the tide is swinging fairly wide; and water temps are starting to rebound.

Early this morning, periods were primarily running 16-18 seconds from 180° and 14 seconds from 285-290°. Most all breaks were running waist high with chest high sets at standout west facing spots.


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Swell Forecast and Schedule
Buoys are up slightly in the outer waters showing mostly NW swell in the 6-7' range. Nearshore buoys in SoCal are running 2.1-2.5' with southern hemi being about half of that. At times though, 18-second period energy from the south has shown up with somewhat bigger seas (near 2').

The tide is swinging a bit wide from a Full Moon that crested at 12:45 AM. Today we had a -0.3' low around 4:20 AM, we'll see a 4.3' high around 10:30 AM, a 0.9' low around 4:00 PM, and then a 5.6' high around 10:10 PM.

Water temps were running 57-59° at most SoCal beaches but some 60° readings are starting to show up. Dana Pt. checked in at 60°, Hermosa 62°, and Santa Monica 61°.

Swell-wise: Today we're seeing a light NW-SW groundswell combo with hardly any wind swell in the water. That will change though tomorrow.

As you may recall from earlier reports, NW wind swell is due Wednesday the 16th from strong winds that were forecast to pick up along the west coast as pressure gradients tightened from north to south. The high pressure moving in to the West and low pressure ahead of it to tighten those gradients has not been impressive (hence that dud of a Santa Ana yesterday). Winds are still expected to pick up north of SoCal, but not as severe as forecast on the models just 48 hours ago. Instead, look for wind swell coming in Wednesday from 310°+ with 9- to 11-second periods, pushing west facing breaks in chest high surf, possibly some pluses late in the day at standouts. NW wind swell is then expected to linger to a lesser degree Thursday the 17th, backing off Friday the 18th.

The southern hemisphere has been active enough lately to keep a steady flow of small SW swell in SoCal. So as the wind swell backs off late this week, look for south facing breaks to continue seeing light ground swell for waist high waves.

Saturday the 19th then sees a slight bump in NW ground swell from a weak Aleutian system to help west facing breaks stay in the waist high range.

Sunday the 20th sees a better increase at south facing breaks. A decent sized system that formed south of Easter Island last week with a 30' fetch peaking about 4000 nautical miles to our south directed some groundswell our way. Running the numbers this morning, it looks like south facing breaks will fare best with chest high surf. West facing breaks are looking at waist high waves, at best, as that weak NW'er coming in Saturday the 19th begins to wane.

Another, similar burst of southerly swell from activity south of Easter Island is due to arrive Tuesday the 22nd, so look for south facing breaks to continue running in the chest high range from Sunday the 20th through Wednesday the 23rd.

Long range models still show potential for some kind of light NW ground swell around the 21st-22nd, but models today have changed the course and strength of a system forecast to traverse from the western Pacific towards Washington, gaining strength once about 1500 miles from the WA/OR border. There's little hope for swell in SoCal from this one, but it still warrants some monitoring over the next few days. Right now though, it looks like this will merely add just knee to waist high waves at west facing breaks Tuesday the 22nd — south facing breaks will be doing much better from the Easter Island swells.

It then looks like we could see southern hemi swell build Sunday the 27th peaking Monday the 28th. This is from a large fetch forecast to spin off Antarctica south of French Polynesia, but models don't take this one on an ideal course for SoCal, with more of an easterly (versus northward) trajectory. Periods would be long in the 18-second range angled from 190°. Size, so far, is expected to run chest high at south facing breaks. This is still on the 108h models this morning, slightly downgraded from the 144h models a couple days ago. I'll stay on top of it and keep you posted.


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

Wednesday the 16th is expected to run chest high at west facing breaks from short period NW wind swell. South facing breaks should run waist high from the wrap and background southern hemi ground swell.

Thursday the 17th is looking at chest max NW wind swell at west facing breaks, waist+ at south facing spots.

Friday the 18th is expected to see waist high waves most everywhere.

Saturday the 19th is expected to see waist to at times chest high waves at south facing breaks, waist high at west facing spots.

Sunday the 20th is expected to see chest high waves at south facing breaks, waist high at west facing breaks.

Monday the 21st is expected to see chest high waves at south facing spots, knee to waist at west facing breaks.

Tuesday the 22nd is looking at chest high waves at south facing spots, knee to waist at west facing breaks.

Wednesday the 23rd is looking at chest high waves at south facing spots, knee high at west facing breaks.

Thursday the 24th, so far, is looking at waist high waves at south facing spots, knee high at west facing breaks.

Friday the 25th, so far, looks similar.


Weather Outlook
Very little change in weather for the rest of the week. A trough over the region now gets supplanted by moderate high pressure in a couple days, but a low will persist to the south to maintain the status quo. Today through Saturday look for AM marine layer, mid to late morning burn-off, and beaches reaching the mid 60s.


Wind Outlook
Winds at 7:00 AM were light and variable most everywhere. Onshores are expected to increase by noon, reaching 8-12 mph this afternoon. No major change is expected over the next few days.


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


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