Hawaii And West Coast Weekend Surf Forecast

Well the Pacific Ocean is definitely hitting the winter-to-spring transition period…the North Pacific is starting to slowly grind down the storm production while the South Pacific, which is going from summer-to-fall, is starting to get more active.

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Check out the latest sea-level chart…you can see the NPAC starting to really slow down as high-pressure builds in across the mid-latitudes. This increase in pressure is gradually pushing the NPAC storm track further north…blocking its ability to erode portions the “weaker” high-pressure that it would generally be able to kick around if we were in the middle of deep winter. The worst part of this transition is that this new NPAC storm is so far north that Southern California is going to see a significant decrease in North Pacific swell since the newly storms just brush past the NW edge of the swell window.

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Conversely the Southern Hemi is getting a bit more unruly…lots more storm activity forming over the last couple of weeks that have managed to send out some new, mostly playful, S-SW swell for both Hawaii and the West Coast. Based on the this early spring pattern I am getting cautiously optimistic about our springtime (and possibly summer) surf coming out of the South Pac. As you can see on the chart above there is a lot more bulge (that is what she said) in the storms rolling through the South Pacific compared to the North Pacific.

These storms are getting to be pretty dynamic…both in terms of intensity and there movement track, which has a lot more of the fetch jumping from the south to the north. This South-to-North movement greatly increases the surface area of the “good” parts of the fetch and helps to add in some extra-duration (the amount of time that the wind gets to blow on the water) which is also a pretty key factor that letting a storm produce a bigger, more consistent swell.

The “Spring” storm set up is pretty dynamic from an atmospheric perspective…neither portion of the Pacific have really settled completely down…or ramped completely up…which lends to sort of weird/unstable bubbles of storm activity that can occasionally produce a decent sized, nearly out-of-season swell.

Looking at the forecast for this week and weekend it looks like that exact setup will be sending us all sorts of waves from systems all over the Pacific. The two most interesting storms that I am seeing on the charts will affect both the North and South Pacific over the next few days. The storm down in the South Pacific actually formed a few days ago and already has “swell in the water” heading for Hawaii, California, and a bunch of regions in Central America. Check out the these charts…the first is from NOAA/FNMOC and it is showing the wind-speeds that are generally associated with storm activity.

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This system will send a pretty healthy S swell to the Hawaiian islands early next week…nothing out of control…but large enough that the townies will have some fun as it peaks. Look for this S energy to arrive on Friday (Mar 19)…the periods will be pretty long at first…and there might not be much showing for the dawn patrol…fortunately the swell fills in pretty fast and we can expect some 4-5’ of deepwater swell at 17-19 seconds hitting by the afternoon/almost sundown. These waves will hold overnight into Saturday and really we should see some solid 5-8’+ faces starting Friday evening and sticking around through Sunday before we see much of a drop off.

The West Coast will be getting a smaller version of this SSW-SW swell a couple of days later. The SSW-SW swell hits most of the coast (from the Pacific NW on down through the tip of Baja)  about the same time…so we can expect some new long-period SSW-SW energy to arrive through the day on Monday…but likely peaking with some chest-shoulder high+ surf for most areas and some inconsistent head high/overhead sets at the standouts as the swell peaks Tuesday through Thursday (Mar 23-25). About the only thing that really sucks about this swell, particularly for Southern California is that the swell passes through a region of the Central/South Pacific that is generally referred as the South Pacific Island Shadow. Check out this chart…it is showing the “peak” swell period and direction as this swell moves through the water…look closely at the swell as it passes through the region around Tahiti…poof…almost all of the energy, in particularly the long-period stuff, gets chewed right out of the swell. The positioning is almost perfectly aligned so that a swell coming in from the 210-220 degree range gets shadowed on its way to Southern California, (great lucky us).

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Early next week we will have a new NW swell (290-300) coming in around Tuesday and then peaking Wednesday and Thursday (Mar 22-25).

This one…if it was purely by itself…would be good for some shoulder high+ sets at the standouts…but fortunately we are going to have that SW swell moving in about the same time…the NW energy is pretty steep, mostly in the 290+ range…the SW swell is also a bit shadowed by both the SPAC island shadow but the local nearshore islands as well. At this point it looks like most exposed combo spots will be in the knee-chest high range with some inconsistent shoulder high sets. The standout NW facing breaks and the really f-ing good combo spots will be more in the chest-head high range with some inconsistent overhead sets. Weather looks good for most of this swell combo…look for offshore winds and more hot/sunny skies on tap for the middle of next week.

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Early next week we will have a new NW swell (290-300) coming in around Tuesday and then peaking Wednesday and Thursday (Mar 22-25).

This one…if it was purely by itself…would be good for some shoulder high+ sets at the standouts…but fortunately we are going to have that SW swell moving in about the same time…the NW energy is pretty steep, mostly in the 290+ range…the SW swell is also a bit shadowed by both the SPAC island shadow but the local nearshore islands as well. At this point it looks like most exposed combo spots will be in the knee-chest high range with some inconsistent shoulder high sets. The standout NW facing breaks and the really f-ing good combo spots will be more in the chest-head high range with some inconsistent overhead sets. Weather looks good for most of this swell combo…look for offshore winds and more hot/sunny skies on tap for the middle of next week.

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Hawaii will actually do even better from a newly forming storm that will send out a decent N swell. This energy arrives late on Monday, piling on top of an already showing N swell, and then eventually peaking Tuesday and Wednesday with an easy 10-12’ feet of deepwater swell showing on the buoys. Look for the average exposed spots to see easy 8-12’ faces with a few of the deepwater standouts see some double to almost triple-overhead sets showing at times.

Long-range isn’t all that organized right now…and even the storm forming over Hawaii is still a bit questionable…if the storm does form the West Coast will get an ok shot of WNW-NW swell that hits around the 25-26th…I probably wouldn’t buy much stock in this one….but it is always nice to see the swell models happy enough to keep some storms still registering in our stretch of the ocean.

Next forecast will be on Monday, check back in for the latest update!

Adam Wright
Forecaster
socalsurf.com