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Adam Wright
(Thursday) 4.5.12

Forecasts have one last shot of WNW windswell hitting Friday morning then our surf drops slowly through the weekend.

Surf Forecast Overview

The Forecast shows our outer-water winds spinning up another chunky short-period lump of WNW-NW windswell that peaks tonight and holds into Friday morning before fading out. S-SW swell will be in the background but stays pretty small compared to the bigger local swell. The mix of windswell and S-SW swells back down as we move through the weekend but weather improves and we could end up with a couple of nice beach days over the holiday. Both halves of the Pacific have at least 1 or 2 more storms in the forecast but it does look like storm activity will start to slow down a touch over the next week.

Short Range Surf Outlook (next 4 days)

Friday – (High-pressure tries to rebuild the nice conditions while the windswell fades and more S-SW swells move in to keep the SPAC swell from dropping too far.)

Friday looks like a better surf day…it will still be cooler than the beginning of the week but the high-pressure is forecast to move back in and try to shift winds back to the N-NNE and slowly warm up air temps while it starts to clean up the surf shape for many areas. Look for most spots to see a mix of fading WNW-NW swell (290-300) and blend of several S-SW swells (180-220 with some fading and new ones arriving…none of them all that strong). Most spots will be in the waist-chest high range with some rare plus sets at the better combo breaks. The standout spots will be in the waist-shoulder high range with some head high sets sneaking through on the lower tides. Winds/Weather: Winds shift more N-NNE for the morning, still blowing around 5-10 knots for most areas with a few gustier spots near the passes and canyons. The winds shift to more onshore flow by midday before boosting out of the WNW in the 10-15 knot range by the afternoon.

Saturday – (Clean conditions with fun but fading swell mix on tap.)

Saturday looks like a surf day…it won’t be firing, but the mix of really clean morning conditions and the slowly fading combo swell mix will keep many spots rideable. Look for a blend of WNW-NW windswell (285-300) and a blend of S-SW swells (180-220) still leaking in from a few different parts of the SPAC. Most spots will drop down into the knee-waist high range with some chest-shoulder high sets. The standout NW windswell spots and the excellent combo spots will have some waist-shoulder high surf with some rare head high sets if the tides and winds are behaving just right. Winds/Weather: Light to moderate offshore winds will be on tap for the morning on Saturday. Look for many spots to have 4-8 knot E-ENE winds while the gustier passes and canyons around Ventura, Santa Barbara, and North LA, see some 10-15 knot gusts. Winds stay light through midday but turn onshore after lunch eventually blowing out of the W around 10-15 knots for most of the exposed spots.

Sunday – (Smaller surf continues to roll in under clean morning conditions.)

Sunday will be rideable but the swell mix will have dropped down far enough that the average spots will start feeling real weak and even the top breaks will have long waits for sets to show. The swell mix will be a blend of leftover WNW-NW windswell (290-300) and weak S-SW swells (180-220). The average spots will be in the knee-waist high range…inconsistent on the bigger sets with the higher tides. The standout S-SW facing breaks and excellent combo spots will have some waist-chest waves and possibly an occasional shoulder high set…but you will likely have more fun on your small wave gear, even at the best breaks. Winds/Weather: Clear skies, light offshore winds out of the E-ENE, and warming air temps. Look for those winds to stay light through midday and then turn onshore around 10-14 knots for the afternoon.

Monday – (Clean, slow start to the morning but new WNW swell arrives through the afternoon.)

Monday will be rideable…but the morning is liable to be inconsistent as we slog through mostly NW leftovers and pulses of SPAC swell. By the afternoon we get a new shot of medium-period WNW-NW swell (275-300) arriving from a storm hanging about 1000 miles off the coast…close enough to send us waves but far enough out that the weather doesn’t look all that bad. The morning surf will be in the knee-waist high range with some inconsistent chest high sets at the better combo spots. The standout combo breaks, and excellent NW facing spots, mostly in Ventura and San Diego, see some shoulder-head high sets before the end of the day. Winds/Weather: Light winds and cooler temps on tap for Monday as more clouds start to move in. Look for winds below 5 knots for most areas and a few spots seeing some glassier shape early. W winds 10-15 knots will be on tap for the afternoon.

Long-Range Surf and Swell Forecast

North Pacific Swell Forecast

Well our storm that we saw in the long-range forecast last week is holding together as we get closer to its 0-hour (or when it actually forms). In fact it is sticking together almost exactly like the models forecast it would.

Again the front starts to split off from the higher-latitude storm track tonight and will turn into what the forecasters refer to as a closed (or “cut-off”) low-pressure by Saturday and Sunday. The good thing about this particular storm is that it sits much more squarely in our swell window, generating fetch for a couple of days…the bad thing is that the storm isn’t super strong and it doesn’t take a storm track toward the west coast…it sort of just sits and spins, never getting much closer than a 1000-1500 miles before just falling apart. If this storm does manage to form up over the upcoming weekend…we would see a medium-period W-WNW swell (275-300) hitting late in the day on Monday, April 9, but likely peak into Tuesday, April 10, with some chest-shoulder-head high surf at the top spots.

The storm track wasn’t quite done…in fact after a few days of inactivity after this cutoff low that forms over this weekend it looks like another, larger system will attempt to do the same thing. This second storm, unfortunately looks like it may pull together closer to the coast, and while the surf may end up being bigger as it arrives mid-month…the weather may come along with it.

South Pacific Swell Forecast

While not as strong as the last couple of storms that rolled through the SPAC there have been a number of smaller systems that have tracked through our swell window basically producing a series of small-moderate S-SW swells (180-210) that help to backstop the bigger S swell that hit over this last weekend…and then just keep us in functional sizes as we head through the week and the next weekend.

Further out things do get a bit more lively…we finally start to see the warm/cold air-mass mixing that I have been tracking around New Zealand. Based on these forecast charts it actually looks like a semi-strong storm…40-45 knot winds and 30-35 foot seas…but I have noticed over the years that these subtropical storms fueled by the tropical warm air and the strong cold fronts that blend together in those 30-40 latitudes always seem to get underestimated by the computer models…I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again.

The long-range forecast charts sort of support that theory…with a second storm following closely in the wake of the first system. This one pushes further north, tracking closer to Tahiti and getting a couple thousand miles closer than the first storm…which potentially makes it better swell-maker if it stays out of the island shadow. Both of these storms are still a ways off…but worth watching as we head into the upcoming weekend.

After this end-of-week storm series it looks like the SPAC is going to get a little more mellow for at least a couple of days…the charts are showing a more disorganized Southern Ocean…but like the NPAC there are still some pockets of energy in some key locations that make me think that the SPAC won’t stay quiet very long.

The next Long-range forecast will be posted on Monday, April 9, 2012.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster

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