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Forecaster Report

Southern California

Report Date & Time: November 20, 2014 7:20 AM
By forecaster: Nathan Cool
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Surf Synopsis
Today (Thursday) we have a lot of westerly ground swell in SoCal. This swell is coming to its peak and should back off Friday. A moderate NW swell is being tracked for Saturday the 22nd, and a slightly bigger NW is due Sunday the 23rd (late) into Monday the 24th, with another band of swell due Tuesday the 25th. Wednesday the 26th through the turkey-day weekend is looking at smaller surf. Condition-wise: precip chances in the forecast wane this weekend; Santa Ana on-tap next week; winds mild but trend onshore until next week's Santa Ana; the tide is swinging wide; and water temps have dropped.

Early this morning, periods were primarily running 12-14 seconds from 270-280°.

Most west facing breaks were running head high to a couple feet overhead. Direct south facing breaks were running chest high with pluses at SW exposed spots.

Please note there is an elevated the risk of rip currents, especially during the outgoing tides. The NWS has issued rip current warnings and other advisories as well. Caution is advised.


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Swell Forecast and Schedule
Buoys in the outer waters off SoCal are running 7-9'. With a direct, westerly swell angle, much of this is making it to SoCal beaches. Nearshore buoys around SoCal were running 3.0-5.5'.

The tide is swinging wide as we approach a New Moon Saturday the 22nd. Today we have a 5.9' high around 7:20 AM, we'll see a -0.1' low around 2:20 PM, and then a 4' high around 8:30 PM.

Water temps were running 64-66 in most of SoCal.

Swell-wise: Today we're seeing WNW swell from that Kamchatka-originating, low-latitude system that's been on the models the past couple weeks. Buoys show swell from this has peaked in NCal, and is starting to back off far off the Oregon coast. This should result in today being the peak for this swell in SoCal, with size backing off tonight, more so Friday (to around chest to at times head high then).

After this westerly swell fades, two bands of NW swell will head into SoCal this weekend, both generated from storms in the Gulf. Both bands of swell should be angled from around 290-300° with periods around 14 seconds.

Saturday the 22nd should see the first band, keeping west facing breaks in chest high surf.

Sunday the 23rd (late) into Monday the 24th should then see the second band of swell, putting west facing breaks into surf running chest to at times head high. The peak of this swell though is expected by late morning Sunday, and may not reach SD until the afternoon on Sunday. Note there is an extremely deep high tide midmorning Sunday, which will tend to slow down many spots, especially the reefs and points.

This swell should peak early in the AM Monday the 24th, and then back off Tuesday the 25th.

Tuesday the 25th should still see chest high surf around west facing breaks as the short range models continue to show activity around the Aleutians that would send swell from around 300° with 14-second periods. This, so far, is expected to back off Wednesday the 26th.

Thursday the 27th through the remainder of the month is likely to see fairly small surf. The long range models (so far) show no major developments, just a few small-scaled storms popping up here and there in the northern hemisphere, but nothing significant, so far. The extended forecast could also be problematic for swell in SoCal as the super extended long range models show a high pressure blocking pattern developing in the Gulf of Alaska by this time next week, which would greatly hinder the course (and swell development) from storms coming out of the western Pacific. I'll keep an eye on it and keep you posted as things progress.


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

Friday the 21st is expected to run chest to at times head high at west facing breaks.

Saturday the 22nd is expected to run chest high at west facing breaks.

Sunday the 23rd is expected to run chest to head high at west facing breaks, with swell peaking late morning.

Monday the 24th is expected to run chest to at times head high at west facing breaks.

Tuesday the 25th is expected to run chest high at west facing spots.

Wednesday the 26th is expected to run waist to chest high at west facing spots.

Thursday the 27th is expected to run waist high at west facing breaks.

Friday the 28th, so far, is expected to run knee to waist at west facing breaks.

Saturday the 29th, so far, is also expected to run knee to waist at west facing spots.


Weather Outlook
A low pressure system passes through the region through Friday bringing a 20-40% chance of light rain to SoCal. Rain though looks very spotty, and hardly measurable, with the best chance occurring sometime this afternoon into this evening. Cool air should cap beach temps in the mid to upper 60s through Saturday.

Sunday sees high pressure move into the area, expanding far and wide by Tuesday. This should warm beaches into the low 70s Sunday, and then mid to upper 70s Monday into Tuesday. A Santa Ana is expected to develop Monday with offshore winds peaking Tuesday or Wednesday. Note that the position of the high will be somewhat lower in latitude, resulting in gradients/winds being positioned farther south over SoCal than usual, which would result in winds more widespread through the SoCal coastal region (with SD also seeing brisk Santa Ana winds at the coast Tuesday).

The next event on the long range is a low pressure system forecast to dive south from the Gulf late next week, which could create a wind-event (see below). As for weather, as long as this stays to the east and high pressure remains strong as models forecast today, then no rain would be expected; however, if the high weakens and the low gets positioned farther west, it could pick up moisture before diving south to SoCal. The former though is much more likely than the latter, so a dry forecast is in store for the holiday weekend (by the looks of things today).


Wind Outlook
Winds at 7:00 AM were calm to lightly offshore around much of SoCal. Afternoon onshores are expected 7-11 mph. Onshore winds are forecast to be weaker than models were showing a couple days ago, so it looks like Friday, although trending onshore, will have winds below 15 mph (more like 10 mph, but onshore, and early). Saturday looks similar. Sunday should see light offshores for a good part of the day, as should Monday; however, outer water winds (and winds around SB) could be brisk from the north on Monday.

Tuesday is when the Santa Ana winds are forecast to kick in and blow in the 15-20 mph range from the ENE in most coastal regions of SoCal (even SD, which is rare for this type of event, due to a lower than usual latitude placement of the high). Winds could linger Wednesday before warning Thursday. But...the long range models show a low pressure system diving south from the Gulf Thursday into Friday. This, so far, is looking like an inside-slider low, which would tighten up pressure gradients enough for a NNE wind event in SoCal over the turkey-day weekend. It's too early to make that call today though, but events like this tend to affect SB, VC, and LA more than OC and SD (unlike the Santa Ana due Tuesday, which could equally affect all areas).


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


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