Tropical Swell Alert – Hurricane Dolores breaks into the Socal Swell Window

Adam Wright
(Thursday) 7.16.15

We have tropical swell on the way!

Hurricane Dolores, a decent sized CAT-2 storm (recently downgraded from CAT-3), has just moved out of the swell-shadow cast by Central Baja and is in the process of swinging her swell-producing winds into the S-SE swell window of Southern California.

Dolores is currently moving WNW at about 7-8 mph and is still maintaining 105-mph sustained winds in the core with gusts topping out around 120+ mph at times. Currently she is starting to move toward cooler water, but since her relative movement speed is fairly slow it looks like she will have some decent time to set up new swell for later this upcoming weekend and early next week.

Like most tropical storms you have to look at the storm history, as well as the forecast, to get a solid idea on how much surf the system will produce. In the case of Dolores…she has been a fairly stable and good-sized storm since becoming a hurricane earlier this week. Unfortunately for Socal most of her development and intensification have been occurring closer to Mainland Mexico and Baja leaving her shadowed from Southern California. So while we have all been watching this big bad storm moving around down there…it really hasn’t become a swell generator for our region until she began to clear the shadow late Wednesday/early Thursday.

The good news is that the latest National Hurricane Center forecast has Dolores drifting further west while maintaining at least some of her current power. Eventually, over the next couple of days, she will begin to weaken, but at the same time will be swinging into a more NNW direction and parallel the Baja Mexico coast, bringing her closer to Socal. Generally storms that are weakening don’t generate the best surf, however in this case (as long as Dolores can keep wind on the water) her adjusted track may help to compensate for the gradual drop in intensity that we will see at the same time. All in all we should get at least a good 36-hours of prime swell development, but we may get a little extra ‘end of the run’ bonus if the storm can stay organized enough as she begins her trek NNW.

All of this info is great Adam…but what does this mean for our surf?

When you boil down all of the data that we currently have, and sprinkle it with the assumption that the storm is going to follow the latest forecast projections, it looks like we will see a nice sized tropical swell arriving this weekend. Friday and Saturday will both be rideable but won’t see much of the tropical swell from Dolores. (There are some background Southern Hemi swells, some local WNW-NW windswell, as well as some tropical energy from Enrique that will keep us surfing during the first part of the weekend).

The main tropical swell will begin to arrive on Sunday, July 19, and will peak later Sunday afternoon with the bulk of the energy holding over into Monday, July 20, before it starts to gradually back down. It is worth noting that the initial portion of the swell will track in from the SE (155-165) as it first starts to arrive on Sunday, but that we will see it slowly shift more to the S (170-190) as the storm tracks further westward. This means that you may have to hunt a little more for good SE exposed spots if you are looking for bigger waves at the start of this tropical swell, eventually it will start to include more traditional S facing beaches, but we may not see those kick in until later Sunday evening and on into Monday.

Sizewise we still need to stay a little conservative, partly because of the steeper SE swell angle and also due to the fact that the storm is still very close to the swell shadow, so much of the trailing winds and the full wind-field of the storm haven’t totally cleared Baja. As of right now I am expecting the average SE exposed spots to see consistent shoulder-head high surf with some overhead+ sets mixing in while the swell peaks. The standout SE facing spots, mostly the really good tropical breaks, will have more consistent head-high to overhead+ surf with sets going at least a couple of feet overhead (with the potential for bigger sets). The S facing spots will be a bit smaller on Sunday…staying mostly below head high…but we should see those jump up into the overhead-overhead+ range by Sunday night, with the majority of their surf hitting on Monday.

Overall Dolores is looking like a pretty good swell-maker…she won’t be out of control big but she will liven things up around the S-SE facing spots in our region. One thing that we will want to keep in mind is that with Dolores getting so close to Socal we will see our heat/humidity spike way up as bits of the storm start to swamp our area and if we are really unlucky we may see some rain and thunderstorms move through as well. Make sure to read the daily forecasts for the latest info on the Dolores swell as we move into the weekend. Happy Hunting!

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  • stop

    1-”and if we are really unlucky we may see some rain and thunderstorms move through as well” — we need rainnnn, i surf when it rains

    2- wher ehav eu been adam????????

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

      I wasn’t too worried about the rain…I was more concerned about potential lightning, it is hard to surf when you have been BBQ’d.

      I’m still here, just working on some stuff behind the scenes right now, hoping to get back to the forecasting full time in the future.

      • stop

        how about the next against the grain pure south swell wel get that south america gets all of it? followed by that SW swell. that SW swell should be 4-6 in oc, right? its pretty high latitutde, actually theres the first real under aus, new zealander then it reforms , so its double the southwest

        peak of dolares hits sunday night!