Report Date & Time: March 24, 2019 6:35 AM
By forecaster: Nathan Cool
Get swell notices here.
Today (Sunday) we have a good deal of NW ground swell in SoCal, which should linger to a lesser degree over the next few days. A temporary NW boost is due Thursday before northern hemi swell yields to southern hemi swell this coming weekend. Looking out on the longer range, seasonal change is becoming evident to switch-up swell direction, with though a wrench from El Niño in the forecast works. Condition-wise: fair weather now, rain possible mid week, then warming later in the week; mild winds now shift during the second half of the week; water temps have warmed in some spots; and advisories are in effect.
Early this morning, periods were primarily running 17 seconds from 285-290°.
Most west facing breaks were running head high to a few feet overhead with occasional DOH sets at standouts. Direct south facing breaks were running chest high, bigger at SW exposed spots.
High Surf Warning: Today's swell will increase the risk of rip currents, along-shore currents, high consistency, and overall hazardous conditions. The NWS has issued advisories as well. Caution is advised.
Swell Forecast and Schedule
Buoys in the outer waters off SoCal were running 11-13'. Nearshore buoys in SoCal were running 3-5'.
Daytime tide levels have recuperated from the recent swing. Today we have a 0.2' low around 8:00 AM, a 3.2' high around 2:00 PM, and a 2' low around 7:00 PM.
Water temps were running 60° in most of SD. OC was more varied with Huntington checking in yesterday at 58°, Newport 60°, and San Clemente 63°. LA was running 58-61° yesterday. In VC, Channel Islands Harbor went from 55° yesterday to 57° early this morning, and Ventura Harbor was running 58° yesterday. SB Harbor is still holding steady at 57°.
Swell-wise: Peak swell is moving through SoCal waters early this morning from that WestPac system that picked up steam as it neared SoCal from just 1,600 nautical miles away. Although this swell will peak today, lingering activity from this storm in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Alaska should keep head high (or slightly bigger) waves going at west facing breaks Monday the 25th and Tuesday the 26th, then chest to head high Wednesday the 27th. This portion of the swell though should be angled a bit steeper in the 290-300° range, and periods shorter at 12-14 seconds.
Thursday the 28th is likely to see a slight boost in size at west facing breaks from a mix of activity heading into the Bering Sea, and a bigger swath of swell from a storm-reform in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Alaska. All told, west facing breaks are looking at sets in the head high to 2' overhead range, with swell angled from 290° and periods 12-14 seconds. This swell is likely to fade quite a bit Friday the 29th (chest+), more so over the coming weekend, which is rather timely.
Saturday the 30th should see peak swell from a minor to moderate French Poly storm that swirled up last week (filling in Friday the 29th). So while west facing breaks drop to around waist high on Saturday, south facing breaks should run chest high with swell angled from 195° and periods 16-18 seconds. This swell should linger to a somewhat lesser degree Sunday the 31st (waist to chest), before backing down Monday the 1st.
Looking out on the longer range, things are looking a lot like spring with northern hemisphere storms waning but lots of southern hemi activity picking up momentum. None of the southern hemis right now look all that impressive, either smacking into New Zealand and the Tasman Sea, or staying south of 50S latitude, deep in the lower latitudes. Neither is a major surf-worthy scenario for SoCal, but some energy would be sent our way in a small but steady flow of SW swell later next week. While that's a yawner, these storms are actually quite strong, and all we need now is for the storm track in the lower latitudes to improve a tad for bigger swell to be sent our way. One possible snag though in that ray of surfable hope is that we are in El Niño territory (check out these sea surface temps, for instance), which tends to strengthen the southern hemi jetstream so that it doesn't always send swell-making storms north. Of course though, that also means that the tropics would be warmer, upping the chances for tropical swell in a few months; tropical waters, btw, are already quite warm. On the other hand though, we're not forecast to reach super high Niño levels (1.5°C compared to 2.6°C in 2015 and 2.4°C in 1997), so we may stay in a kind of sweet spot over the coming months — it's that Goldilocks kind of neutral zone I talk about in Surf, Flood, Fire & Mud.
In any case, the Pacific never stays quiet for long, but we may hit a temporary lull after this coming weekend.
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Here's how the day-to-day is breaking down so far:
Monday the 25th is expected to run head high to a couple feet overhead at west facing breaks.
Tuesday the 26th looks about head high at west facing breaks with pluses at times at standouts.
Wednesday the 27th looks about chest to head high at west facing breaks.
Thursday the 28th looks about head high to slightly overhead at west facing breaks.
Friday the 29th is expected to run chest high at west facing breaks and waist to chest at south facing spots.
Saturday the 30th looks about chest high at south facing breaks and waist high at west facing spots.
Sunday the 31st looks about waist to chest high at south facing breaks and waist high at west facing spots.
Monday the 1st, so far, looks about waist high everywhere.
Tuesday the 2nd, so far, looks about waist high everywhere.
Moderate high pressure over the region peaks Monday with beaches reaching the low 60s today, then mid 60s Monday, both days with fairly clear skies. Tuesday will likely cool a tad to the low 60s with increasing clouds as a storm approaches the region.
Wednesday has a decent chance of seeing light rain, with most models in agreement this morning. Rain amounts look light, trace to 0.1" max for most coastal areas, with a tad more around parts of SB and also around the Palos Verdes Peninsula south into northern OC. Beach max temps should stay in the low 60s.
Thursday should be clear and sunny with beach max temps in the low to mid 60s. Friday into the weekend could then see a slight warming trend as weak to moderate high pressure builds into the area.
Winds at 6:00 AM were trending lightly offshore in most spots 3-7 mph. Afternoon onshores are expected to remain light in the 7-11 mph range. Monday and Tuesday look similar. Wednesday is likely to see onshores pick up early to 10 mph with afternoon onshores reaching 15-20 mph. Thursday looks similar. Friday should see lighter winds with light early AM offshores 4-8 mph and afternoon onshores 8-12 mph.
Until my next report (Tuesday), take care, be safe, and smile in the lineup!