West Coast Weekly Surf Forecast

The West Coast is going to get a bit of a mixed bag surfwise this week…there will still be plenty of decent-sized NW swell moving down the coast but the swell angle will be so steep that it will be showing almost exclusively North of Point Conception. SoCal, thanks to the normal swell shadowing (from Point Conception and the Nearshore islands) that occurs on energy that comes in from a NW angle above 300-degrees will be fairly small…and can expect mostly leftovers through the middle/end of the week.

Looking at the forecast charts there won’t be a lot of changes for the next few days…the NW energy, both in Northern and Southern California will be backing down…getting progressively smaller through Thursday.

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NorCal will start to build back up on Friday, Dec 4th, as another steep NW swell (295-320) moves in from a storm that bulled its way through the northerly portion of the Gulf of Alaska. This swell will start to fill in late Thursday night and should be peaking by the afternoon on Friday, eventually holding some good-sized surf into Saturday. The exposed areas in Northern and Central Cal can expect overhead+ surf at the average spots and sets getting close to double-overhead at the top breaks.

Socal will see a few waves from this one…but like most swells that come in from over 295+ degrees…it will be a very watered down version compared to spots up North. The best exposed Socal spots, mostly through San Diego, will have some waist-chest high sets showing later Friday and maybe a few chest high+ waves sneaking through by early Saturday.

Ok…while the short-range forecast isn’t all that interesting (I almost dozed off while writing it)…the extended range charts have A LOT MORE going on. The current forecast run is showing a very deep low-pressure (a.k.a. more intense) forming just to the NW-N of Hawaii in about 4-6 days. As it forms the forecasts are calling for it to pull in all sorts of extra-tropical moisture that helps it get freaky strong and basically lets it dominate the mid-upper latitudes of the Central North Pacific. Check out the charts…

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This low is a pretty big storm, both in terms of intensity and overall size, and it is forecast to have some very substantial fetch for Hawaii and California.

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If this storm can live up to forecasts we would likely see a large NNW-N swell for Hawaii around December 8 and a good-sized WNW-NW swell for the West Coast around Dec 9-10. It is a bit early to call out wave sizes but the directly exposed spots in Hawaii and NorCal could potentially see well-overhead+ surf while Socal sees a smaller, but still head high+, shot of winter juice.
Anyway….most of this projected activity hasn’t formed so it might be a bit early to get very excited…but it is still very nice to see in the forecast.

Here is a little more specific surf information for the California Coast over the next few days.

Northern California
Look for NW swell (290-320) to fade slowly through Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The best exposed spots can expect some consistent overhead to well overhead surf early through Tuesday…but wave heights will back down into the shoulder-overhead+ range by Wednesday…and then to mostly head high and below by Thursday.

Another well-overhead NW swell (295-320) moves in late Thursday night and peaks Friday afternoon through Saturday. Look for more shoulder-overhead+ surf at the protected areas like Santa Cruz…and well-overhead to double-overhead surf at the top NW facing breaks that have better exposure to the swell direction.

Winds and weather don’t look too bad over the next several days…mostly light and variable NW flow through Tuesday, some slightly offshore flow for early Wednesday, and then back to the more normal light-NW winds and increasing afternoon onshore bump by Thursday.

Southern California
Leftover NW energy will be on tap through Thursday while a small, weak, pulse of SW energy holds in the background. Look for mostly knee-waist high waves through Tuesday and then knee-high+ surf through Wednesday and Thursday. Top NW facing breaks, mostly in San Diego, will have some waist-chest high+ sets through Tuesday and then back down to waist-chest high through the middle of the week.

High tides continue to hurt shape as well…look for 5-6’ high tides to peak right in the middle of the morning all the way through the week. Expect the swamp-thing to drown out most rideable shape through the first part of the day. Stupid tide.

Winds look good all the way through Friday. Look for light and variable to light offshore conditions through the mornings and variable onshore flow (mostly below 10-12 knots) for the afternoons…of course we have good winds when we have small/tide-swamped surf…nothing like having Mother Nature twist the knife.

By Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster
www.socalsurf.com