Long Range Forecast is calling for the return of Sir Edward, some steady WNW-NW windswell and some playful SSW-SW background swell.

Adam Wright
(Thursday) 6.7.12

Surf Forecast Overview

Overcast skies start creep in overnight in response to the eddy reforming on Friday. These conditions are likely to last the weekend and into early next week, but are forecast to weaken as we head into Sunday and Monday. Overall it looks like playful surf…nothing very big, but at least a consistent blend of WNW-NW windswell and less consistent pulses of SSW-SW swell. The trick will be navigating the tides, occasional pockets of crumbly conditions and long waits between waves at the lesser exposed spots. If you are up to the challenge you should be able to get out and ride a few waves here and there, but keep in mind that bringing the right gear, watching the winds, picking the right break, and staying on top of the tides will help maximize your fun.

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Long-Range Surf and Swell Forecast

North Pacific Swell Forecast

Still no changes for the North Pacific…the pattern of high-pressure holding reign over the mid-latitudes from just off the California Coast to somewhere N of Hawaii continues, which means there is still no solid storms expected to form in the NPAC just that continued series of cold fronts that push off of Asia and mix with sub-tropical energy just offshore of Japan.

  • North Pacific Swell Height Forecast 60hr
  • North Pacific Swell Height Forecast 180hr
  • South Pacific Swell Period Forecast 102hr
  • South Pacific Swell Height Forecast 126hr
  • South Pacific Wind Forecast 150hr
  • tropical-overview
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These storms see a brief period of intensification but basically fall apart as they are forced to squeeze under the Aleutians and end up as just ghosts of themselves as they finally move into the Gulf of Alaska. About the only real influence they have is to drop a trough of low-pressure down the West Coast and speed up the NW winds that blow along the California Coast.

Swellwise it is these enhanced winds that have been generating our local WNW-NW windswell and will continue to do so for at least the next week. You can see on the swell height images that the winds along the coast will be strengthening and weakening over the next several days, so we can expect the windswell to pulse up and down as reflection of the changes in the outer waters.

South Pacific Swell Forecast

Not much change from our forecast earlier this week…just waiting for that high-pressure that is blocking up the good parts of swell window to be shaken loose (anybody got any high-pressure ex-lax?).

SW swell from some strong storms under Australia and NZ (that sent waves to the Tavaura Contest) moves in on Friday and holds over the weekend but it will have both passed through the SPAC Island Shadow and will also see some blockage from our local Nearshore Islands…so rideable waves from this storm will be inconsistent at best. Mostly it will be knee-chest high sets at the average SW facing breaks but there will be some very inconsistent bigger sets mixing it at the standouts…keep in mind by inconsistent I mean it…the waits between any sort of bigger set will try anyone’s patience. Again you can see how much energy gets chewed out the swell on the swell-period forecast chart (this one is for the next swell that arrives closer to the middle of June.

We finally see some traction in our storm activity later in the forecast…with a system pushing underneath New Zealand in about 5-days.

This storm doesn’t move to a great position, it still is stuck in the South Pacific Island Shadow, but at least we aren’t adding New Zealand to that shadowing. If this storm manages to form, and it really isn’t anything to be very excited about, we could see some minor SW swell (210-220) hitting around June 22-23. What I am hoping is that this storm will be able to dislodge the high-pressure, or at least link up with some low-latitude warm air-masses and erode a big enough gap in the high that following storms might be able to exploit it. Unfortunately there isn’t anything significant in the storm track, but crossing my fingers we see that change relatively soon.

Tropical Forecast Outlook

No new tropical storms are expected to form over the next couple of days.

The next Long-range forecast will be posted on Monday, June 11, 2012.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster

  • Matt

    If the mild storm passing New Zealand gets a good shot, and the high pressure lifts due to a push by WSW winds, could it pick up intensity?

    • http://www.solspot.com/ Adam Wright

      definitely…but a couple of other pieces need to move into place to really have produce anything. Storms by New Zealand are about as “realistically far” distance wise where we can still receive a significant swell, but the storm has to be on the strong side of the bell curve to get that much energy all way from once side of the Pacific to the other.

      So while a moderate storm can produce a swell for us, a good portion of that energy decays away as it travels. The general rule of thumb, is that a swell will lose roughly 1/2 to 1/3rd of its swell size as it travels the equivalent “mileage” of its swell period (measured in feet). So to get that number you basically do the math of how many feet are between peaks in a swell travelling through deep water. (I have a chart somewhere in my desk but honestly it is the weekend and hunting for the exact number so lets work with rough numbers).

      A 16-second swell travels about 25-mph, which is 36.6 feet per second. So to get the distance between peaks you multiple the swell-period…in this case 16…so 16 by 36.6 and get about 623 feet between wave peaks. Now you basically take the same number of miles (623-miles in this case) and then divide the distance a swell has to travel. Lets say 1800 miles for the easy math.

      That means if you start out with a 20-foot swell @ 16-seconds then after the first 600 miles the deepwater wave heights will have dropped to 13.6-feet, after another 600 miles the wave heights would be down to 8.8-feet, and then the final 600 miles would drop it to 5.9-feet @ 16-seconds. The decay is a cascade effect and is a constant state of dropping once the swell has left the storm area.
      0-miles = 20-feet @ 16 seconds at the swell’s starting location.

      600-miles = 13.6-feet @ 16-seconds
      1200-miles = 8.8-feet @ 16-seconds
      1800-miles = 5.9-feet @ 16-seconds

      So you can see how fast a swell loses energy as it travels. The distance from that area of NZ South Pacific waters that we are talking about is roughly 6000 miles so 20-feet of swell down by New Zealand would only amount to about 0.6-feet of swell @ 16 seconds when it arrives in Socal, which is why we need a storm that generates at least 35-40-foot seas to send us much in terms of rideable waves from that area…really we would like to have heights breaking the 40-45-foot mark.

      To get back to your question, yes it is conceivable to get a mild storm to send us waves from that area but the resulting swell will be small at best.
      Right now, what I am hoping is that these first mild storms can punch a hole in the high-pressure, or at least push it further out of the way so that if/when we see a stronger storm develop in the wake of this first system that it has a better position in the swell window and is able to capitalize on the weaker high-pressure. Now the first storm could always get lucky and pull in some warm air, or link up with a tropical system that is jumping latitudes with a crapload of extra-latent heat energy, which would cause it to flare into something much bigger, but right now that high-pressure is set up a wall to keep that from happening. Personally I would rather have the 2nd-3rd storms (when they form, push further into the South Pacific (and our S-SSW swell window) before doing something similar, but it is mostly for selfish reasons since most of my local spots have trouble with shadowing from our nearshore islands if the swell is too SW in swell direction, so if they can be in our S swell window my spots see bigger waves.

      Sorry for the long winded answer, be thankful I didn’t put in anything about shadowing from the SPAC Islands, but hopefully you can see how even a moderate increase in storm activity doesn’t help out a ton…we really need to have the storm go nuclear before we can expect a marked jump in swell and wave heights from that region. One thing to keep in mind, it is why storms in the NPAC can produce so much bigger swells for California…is the storm distance, the closer the storm, the less decay, the bigger the waves.

      • jason

        Adam, this may be unrelated to your post or I’m just weather illiterate (same thing goes for women) but I was wondering what kind of storms produce long period swells with a relatively small swell height? 3ft @ 19sec for instance. Is that possible? And would something like that translate to some ledgy overhead surf when it reaches a coast? Is it related to the angle the wind blows onto the ocean? Sorry if you covered this, maybe you can direct me to a good link? Answer at your leisure, this website is my homepage so I check back often…Thank you for keeping me stoked.

  • Tom Rotert

    Adam– I freakin’ love your site and I especially love your detailed, geeky responses like the one you provide above. These really help me understand your forecasts and, for example, what kind of SPAC storm energy it takes to get us waves from these storms of any appreciable energy. I’m keeping my brain open for ways to help you reach more people across a host of other platforms. More on that later. But for now, FUCK STICKS– your site simply rocks! There is nothing else like it out there, and I am constantly telling every surfer I meet about it. I have found that lots of surfers have given up on swell reporting because of the un-useful, unreliable manner in which information is provided. But I really believe that your site could, should and will turn things around. Keep up the good work. You are a true bro.