Stormy weather approaches for Friday, with solid swell through the weekend

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Austin Gendron
(Thursday) 2.16.17

Short Range Surf Forecast Overview

A pretty nasty storm is going to be baring down on us over the next 24 hours.  Thursday looks like it could be a surfable day with some fun size, but Friday is likely to be a disaster for a lot of areas.  The peak in the mixed surf should be Saturday and in some areas could hold through Sunday morning, and there could be some improving conditions through the weekend.  Another storm could arrive Monday/Tuesday.     Read more for details…..

Get the live Southern California Buoy Forecast graph here - http://solspot.com/buoy/oceanside-offshore/forecast.

Thursday is going to be the building day for new WNW (285-300) arriving with a mix of 13-14 and 18 to 20 second periods.  The storm doesn’t look like its going to be a big deal for Socal as the swell builds from north to south.  The surf will start to push waist to head high waves into westerly exposures of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in the morning, likely building into the chest to overhead+ range through the day.  Some better spots could see set waves starting to go a couple feet overhead.   Again that’s going to be for breaks farther north, OC and SD might have to wait until the afternoon/evening to see the swell start to fill in.  Conditions for the most part Thursday aren’t looking bad.  We’re expecting light to moderate and onshore winds through the day helping to keep a little texture or less on the surface.  There could be breezier southerly winds in the afternoon/evening as the systems front moves through.  Rain is expected to start working its way down the coast in the afternoon/evening though, possibly affecting Santa Barbara and Ventura.  A second system (due Friday) looks like it could be a trouble maker. I’m going to break it down into the following parts: rain, wind and surf.

As of right now its’ expected to take a more southerly track, heading straight towards Southern California.  The last couple of systems have pretty much missed us, but this next one is expected to tap into a very dense moisture plume, and dump heavy rain on much of the region starting Friday morning. Some southerly facing areas are expected to see as 3″ to 8″+ of rainfall, and its been suggested that this could be the strongest storm to hit so far this season.  The rains will start to taper off though Saturday. There is currently a flash flood watch in effect from Friday morning through Saturday morning for a few areas.

Next issues is wind… as you can see… its’ going to be a little windy.  Breezy E-SE prefrontal winds will start up early Friday morning.  As the storm gets closer through the morning the winds are supposed to ramp up, with some forecast models suggesting 20-30 mph sustained S-SE winds for a period of time.  For the coast a few areas could see 30-40+ mph gusts, higher up in the hills there could be recorded gusts up to 60-70 mph. The front is expected to push east through Saturday, winds are looking a little questionable though because they will depend on the track of the storm.  Some models are suggesting it could continue SE and bring offshores Saturday morning.  Others are showing breezy post frontal onshores that will eventually swing NW through the day Saturday. The strong winds on top of the heavy rains will likely mean downed trees.  Surf conditions are going to vary a bit spot to spot Saturday, with less exposed areas looking better of course.  Sunday should see more improvements.

Friday is going to continue to see solid surf as the storm starts to move through, with additional windswell on the surface its likely that the exposed coast will be running overhead to double overhead, but looking like a mess.  The trailing winds from Friday’s storm are going to kick up a pretty healthy fetch off the coast of Point Conception for Saturday. It look like the largest seas will be off the coast of Baja, but WW3 models are indicating we could see 10-15 feet of energy farther south of Point Conception. There will be a blend of short-period energy on top of the medium period swell.

Wave heights are likely to range anywhere from head high-well overhead for the less exposed parts of the region to well overhead to double overhead+ at standouts.  Just have to keep an eye on conditions to see how winds react after the storm passes.  Size will ease again somewhat on Sunday with winds backing off a little bit more.  Just be aware of all the crap floating in the water still.

After the brief break Sunday/Monday, it looks like we could see another system approach from the W-WSW.  There’s less confidence in this one. The models are a little torn on how strong it will be, and how much of an impact it will have on Southern California. GFS models are suggesting a lighter rain event, with breezy onshore winds and another round of moderate sized westerly (240-300) swell and southerly windswell mix. The NAVGEM is showing a much stronger swell situation, more rain, and stronger winds, similar to Friday’s storm. The most recent consensus is to lean towards the GFS solution, with the system sliding further north and not being as problematic… We’ll have to wait and see.

Here’s what to expect on a day-to-day basis this week:

Thursday the 16th New W-WNW energy on the rise.  We’re expecting wave heights to build into the waist to head high range through the morning farther north, possibly reaching chest high to overhead+ by the afternoon/evening at standouts.

Friday the 17th with the storm baring down on Southern California the new swell mix should peak with larger head high to well overhead+ surf to standouts.  Conditions look breezy out of the south.  Likely to be hydro issues with the rains.

Saturday the 18th more swell arrives, driving well overhead to double overhead+ surf at standouts.  Conditions still looking questionable, but there’s a chance winds could shift offshore following the exit of the storm.

Sunday the 19th surf is expected to hold some size through the morning then ease a little bit, with improving conditions.  Standouts/the exposed coast should be seeing head high to well overhead+ high waves.

Monday the 20th surf continues to ease, with calmer conditions.

Tuesday the 21st  new WNW arrives to potentially bring back head high to well overhead+ surf again.

Wednesday the 22nd head high to well overhead+ surf could hold.  Waiting to see how that storm works out.  Stay tuned.

Tropical Overview

No tropical cyclones at this time

Long-Range Surf and Swell Forecast

North Pacific Swell Forecast

Assuming we’re probably going to see another storm arrival next Wednesday with questionable results I’m going to focus the long-range on a couple system out in the NW Pac early to mid-next week.

The first storm forms SE of the Kamchatka Peninsula on Monday, strengthening near the Aleutians. It looks like most of the storms energy will be focused ENE towards Alaska, but at least some of the fetch will be aimed at California. The storm could generate 35+ foot seas, with a weaker but broad part of the fetch pointed east. The storm should generate at least a moderate sized pulse of WNW long-period swell due to arrive next Friday. It will likely be a little too steep/weak to work into Southern California, but Central California will at least see some waves.

Another low moves off the coat of Japan late Monday/Tuesday, rotating through the deep long-wave trough in the NW Pacific. This one will capitalize on the already disturbed sea state left behind from the system mentioned above. As a result it could generate 35-40+ foot seas at the core of the fetch. It also looks like more of the storms fetch will be aimed E, while at a lower latitude as well. This will mean a better chance for Socal to see long-period swell, and for Central California to see more size. Right now, arrival date looks to be around the 26th-27th.

In the end we’re keeping an eye on some long-period energy arriving next weekend/early the following week. It doesn’t look big, but should at least mean some surfable waves before the end of the month.

South Pacific Swell Forecast

Smaller background swells on tap for the next couple of weeks.

Next long-range forecast expected for Monday the 20th of February. 

Austin Gendron
Surf Forecaster