SWELL ALERT: Solid Storm In The South Pacific

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The SPAC blew up this weekend…the storm that was in the process of setting up swell for this coming weekend went berserk…so it looks like we are going to be able add some wave-size to the swell heading to SoCal/Baja and a lot MORE SIZE to the swell heading toward Central America, Southern Mainland Mexico, and a host of other travel locations.

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The storm by itself was pretty well organized…it was positioned well in the storm track, moving the right direction…with a bit of south-to-north movement, and it was already pretty intense (30-40 knots in a few areas)…but then a much smaller, but very warm tropical system, dumped a bunch of extra-tropical energy into the mix…and just like that wind speeds blasted up into the 50-60 knot range. Check out the WINDsat measurements from the last few days…(the big black blobs are winds getting close to hurricane strength)…

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Now check out the wavewatchIII swell model…you can see the bump of overlapping energy heading our way for the end of the week.

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So the timing and size of this swell is going to differ a bit from region to region…so I broke it down a bit so you guys can plan to take advantage or it better.

Central America
The region will actually have a playful, overhead SW swell in the water when this big one starts to arrive. Looks like the new SW swell (200-225) moves in late Thursday night…coming up fast on Friday and peaking overnight into Saturday. The exposed spots in this area can expect solid well-overhead to double overhead surf with some bigger double-overhead+ sets mixing it up as the swell really pops on Saturday morning. The standout deepwater spots that can really focus this swell could be in the double-triple overhead range…maybe bigger if all the pieces fall into place. NOTE: There is a little bit of swell-shadow that some of the areas have to watch out for…the Galapagos islands have a tendency to soak up a bit of the swell heading toward Costa Rica and sometimes Southern Nicaragua on one side and Northern Panama on the other. Oh it will still be good sized in those areas but it won’t see the big bombs that the directly exposed spots will.

Southern Mainland Mexico (from Puerto Vallarta South)
Southern Mainland Mexico, due to its positioning, and weird swell focusing abilities, will probably be the hardest hit (in terms of wave size)…possibly going much larger than other regions. Like Central America there will already be a playful overhead+ SW swell in the water as this new pulse starts to arrive…so if you get there early there will be plenty of surf before the bigger waves hit. The new SW swell (200-220) will move in on Friday, starting a little slow in the morning, but coming up fast through the day and then peaking overnight into Saturday. This swell looks good for nearly 10-12’ of deepwater swell…so I would at minimum be expecting the average spots to see similar sized surf as the swell moves into shallow water. The standout breaks that focus some of this energy will see 10-15’ faces as the swell peaks, and the freaky spots, like Puerto Escondido, will likely get close to 15-20’ faces on some of the bombs that sneak through. This swell will start to drop on Sunday and wind down to more survivable sizes on Monday.

Northern Mainland Mexico (from Puerto Vallarta North)
This region isn’t quite as exposed to the new SW swell as the spots further south but it too will see good sized surf as this swell hits. Look for the SW’er (195-220) to move in on Friday, starting off on the slow side for the morning, but strengthening steadily throughout the day and peaking into Saturday before fading Sunday/Monday. This region’s average exposed spots will be more in the head high to several feet overhead range with some bigger bombs showing now and then. The standout SW facing breaks will likely get near the double-overhead range as the swell peaks early on Saturday.

Southern Baja
The timing for this region is very similar to Northern Mainland Mexico and parts of the Pacific side will probably be just as big. The swell moves in throughout the day on Friday and will peak after dark holding into Saturday. Most exposed spots will be head high to a few feet overhead while the standout Pacific side breaks and top exposed Cabo/East Cape spots see a few sets hitting the double overhead mark at times.

Southern California
The swell lags about a day behind the other regions further south before it moves into SoCal. Right now it looks like long-period energy will fill into the background on Friday (May 21) and then the swell will build overnight, peaking through Saturday, holding into early Sunday before backing down through the early part of next week. It will also be a bit smaller up here…with the average exposed spots running shoulder-high to overhead on most sets and a few bigger waves hitting on the lower tides. The standout SW facing spots, mostly through Orange County and San Diego, will have consistent head high and overhead+ surf with some sets going a few feet overhead on those same low-tides. NOTE: It doesn’t look like winds are going to be all that great this weekend (stupid wind!) so don’t expect perfect clean conditions in our region…hopefully this is just the weather model being a spaz, and actual winds/conditions will be much cleaner.

Northern/Central California
Yep the swell has enough punch to push North of Point Conception as well…it takes the swell about an extra ½ day to head up there but it does eventually arrive later on Saturday afternoon and then peaking overnight into Sunday. Look for consistent shoulder-overhead surf for the better SW facing spots along the North and Central Coasts with a few of the top summer areas seeing some sets going a few feet overhead. Like SoCal there may be some wind/weather issues as this swell peaks…but unlike SoCal most of the regions summer spots have protection from the increase in WNW-NW winds that will likely push in during the peak of the swell.

Anyway…as you can tell this swell looks pretty legit…and it isn’t in some fantasy world that the wavewatchIII model is living in…it is actually a fully formed, ass-kicking storm generating this swell. Both the WINDsat and the Jason-1 (or is it Jason-2 now?) have both recorded 50-60+ knots of wind and nearly 40-foot seas in the core of the fetch aimed our way…so cross your fingers that us SoCal non-travelers get some halfway decent weather as this swell starts to arrive. I will have more detail in the daily forecast as we get closer to the weekend.

Adam Wright
Forecaster
socalsurf.com