West Coast Weekend Surf Forecast
By Adam Wright, Surf Forecaster, www.socalsurf.com
Not a lot of changes from the West Coast forecast that I put together earlier this week…expect that the strong North Pacific Storm that we were waiting for has now arrived…and is living up to the forecasts, basically chomping its way through the Gulf of Alaska.
I pulled the data from the quikSCAT satellite and there is some pretty intense winds showing in the key areas of this storm’s fetch…there are some solid 40-50 knot+ winds stretched across a few thousand square miles of the North Pacific Ocean setting up a solid NW swell for the Pacific NW as well as Northern and Central California. Check it out…
I went ahead and overlaid the swell windows for Northern and Southern California on this chart and as you can see the storm is cranking the winds right through part of the “sweet spot” in Northern California’s swell window. What is even better is that the fetch is almost perfectly aligned along the great-circle* path…which means that the storm is aiming the swell almost directly at the region.
*(A Great-Circle line is a line that we have to use to properly visualize the sphere-shape of the Earth on a flat map…basically it is a line that represents the curvature of the globe. If we could somehow put this data back onto a globe, that curved line would actually appear straight. The larger the scale of the map, like when you are looking at a map of the whole Pacific Ocean for instance, the more that you need to use these sort of lines. If you are a sailor this is also called Rhumb Line)
This storm is expected to hold position through early Friday before starting to push further NE into Canada. This extra hang-time is good too…it allows the storm’s winds to cram more energy into the swell before it moves off.
The one thing that does sort of suck about this system…and it is more of geographical suckiness than any fault of the storm…is that the storm is positioned a bit too far to the north to send a really large swell to Southern California. You can see on the chart that most of the really strong winds are above the 300-degree swell shadow that is cast by Point Conception and the Channel Islands. There was a little fetch below the cut-off so SoCal will get some energy but just not the full blast that will be hitting to the north.
Check out the Magicseaweed swell forecast for NorCal…
And here’s the one for Southern California…quite a difference.
Okay, onto the fun part…where we get to talk about waves…even a few that might scare the poop out of most of us.
For NorCal…This new WNW-NW swell (280-320…but with most of the energy around 290-315) will start to arrive late on Friday overlapping some energy from an earlier NW swell. I expect some large sets to begin pushing in later in the afternoon on Friday, particularly at spots North of San Francisco.
The peak of the swell will hit on Saturday Nov 7th. This swell in open water is expected to be around 15-18’ @ 15-16 second periods…pretty damn large. At this point it looks like average exposed NW spots will be easily in the double to triple-overhead range, while the better exposed spots see more consistent triple-overhead sizes …and bigger bombs mixing in. Deepwater spots, breaks that focus this sort of energy, have the potential to be a lot bigger. Spots with protection, like many of the breaks in Santa Cruz will be more manageable since the swell angle is pretty NW…not as much energy will be able to wrap around the corner. Winds and weather are a little spotty…NW winds 10 knots and some scattered rain on tap for the morning. NW winds 10-15 knots build in through the afternoon, stronger the further North you go.For detailed worldwide surf forecasts and reports go to www.magicseaweed.com
The swell will hold through the day on Saturday and then start to slowly wind down on Sunday…still big with lots of double-triple overhead sets. Conditions look better as high-pressure starts to shift winds to the North-NNE for most areas. This looks like a better day overall, mostly because of the improving conditions.
Quick Note on the Maverick’s contest: It sounds like the competitors in the Mav’s contest voted not to have the contest on this swell…they want to wait for a better swell and/or better conditions. Really Mav’s likes to have some longer periods and the swell to be a little more WNW than NW to help the shape of the bowl. Whatever…these dudes are crazy.
Southern California…will see this new NW swell (290-300+) start to arrive through the day on Saturday and eventually peak on Sunday before fading out on Monday.
On Saturday we will already have some surf showing thanks to a smaller storm that pushed through before the big one formed…so the day will start off with some playful NW energy in the waist-chest high range at the top spots. The new NW swell will start to show in the afternoon, particularly in the exposed areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura since they are a little closer to the action.
The new NW swell (290-300) will peak overnight into Sunday morning…by then we can expect all of the average WNW-NW facing spots, as well as a few combo spots, to be in the chest-shoulder high range. Top NW facing spots in Ventura, the South Bay, and San Diego, can expect shoulder-head high surf with overhead sets…wouldn’t be surprised to see sets going a couple of feet overhead+ at the best spots. Winds look a little funky for Sunday…so we are going to need to keep an eye on that, hopefully it is just the models acting up with storm front passing by to the north of us.
I am still being a little conservative on my wave heights for Socal…(hey I am a belt and suspenders sort of guy when it comes to this stuff)… so it is possible that we see a little more size if the later parts of this storm pull together in a better position than the charts are indicating today. Keep an eye on the buoys and charts as we head into the weekend…we might end up getting some more juice.
For more forecasting treats, check out Adam Wright’s blog at www.socalsurf.com