Report Date & Time: August 22, 2019 6:30 AM
By forecaster: Nathan Cool
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Today (Thursday) NW wind swell is on the rise in SoCal as long-period southern hemi slowly fills in. Southern hemi peaks over the next couple of days, but the bigger news is surf headed our way from Ivo by Sunday. A smaller southern hemi swell is due during the second half of next week, and a moderate SW swell is due over Labor Day weekend. Condition-wise: steady weather pattern on tap; southerly winds problematic shortly; tide levels swing wide next week; and water temps, although fair for the most part, have dipped a bit in some spots.
Early this morning, periods were primarily running 7-9 seconds from 310°, 14 seconds from 180°, and sporadically 20 seconds from 210-220°.
Most west facing breaks were running waist to chest high. Direct south facing breaks were mostly waist high, although will likely increase later in the day.
Swell Forecast and Schedule
Buoys in the outer waters off SoCal were running 8'. Nearshore buoys were running 2-3'.
Tide levels have evened out from the recent swing, but a wide swing is on tap next week as we approach a New Moon on the 30th. Today we have a 2.1' low around 8:00 AM, a 4.5' high around 2:30 PM, and a 1.8' low around 10:00 PM.
Water temps were running 68-69° around most of SD yesterday, although Mission Beach reported 64° this morning and Solana Beach reported 64° at one point yesterday. In OC yesterday, Huntington reported 64°, Newport 66°, and San Clemente 70°. In LA, Cabrillo reported 62° yesterday, Zuma was 63°, Santa Monica has been running 69-70°, and Hermosa reported 72°. In VC, Channel Islands Harbor has been running 64-66°, and VC Harbor reported 69° last night. SB Harbor reported 66° this morning.
Swell-wise: NW wind swell has increased as low pressure from the Gulf has rammed into summertime high pressure over the American West. This has caused impressive temperature- and pressure-gradients to form — stronger than models were forecasting — which will also affect southerly winds with stronger than normal coastal eddy formation (see below for more on that). We also are seeing the first signs of the New Zealand swell today with 20-second forerunners starting to show up on offshore SD buoys.
Things remain on track to see wind swell top out in the chest high range at west facing breaks later today and Friday, and for the New Zealand SW ground swell to max out in the chest high range for south facing breaks Friday as well. Angle on the wind swell should remain around 310° (with periods 10 seconds max), and the New Zealander around 210-215° (with periods 16-18 seconds).
Saturday morning, as NW swell fades to waist+ at west facing breaks and the New Zealand swell continues to bring chest high-ish waves to south facing breaks, swell from Ivo should be sitting off the coast of SoCal, poised to come ashore by the evening. Peak day for Ivo appears to be Sunday; here's the low-down:
Ivo is on a course that would take it ideally northward along the coast of Baja until it meets colder water, which would weaken it. The NHC is forecasting Ivo to have winds topping out around 75 mph in the next 24 hours, making this a so-so-strengthened, CAT-1 hurricane. But, many models show this topping out at around 90-95 mph, teasing the CAT-2 level. Ivo is moving somewhat speedily north at 11kt, which normally would mean not enough standstill-time to kick up impressive fetch; yet, all models this morning show Ivo kicking up at least 25' seas when just 780 nautical miles south of SoCal. Working on the numbers on that scenario, and with the idea of Ivo peaking in 24 hours, would work out to surf running 2' overhead early Sunday morning at breaks that can work Ivo's steeply SE angled 165-170° energy, with periods in the 14-second range. South facing breaks with less than ideal SE exposure would likely run head high max, and standouts, mostly around OC, have potential to see sets running perhaps 3-4' overhead; however, those would likely be rare pluses. Also, there are a couple of caveats to be aware of.
First, Ivo's peak intensity may only last a few hours, so these numbers represent that short timeframe, which for SoCal swell would be pre-dawn to around mid morning on Sunday, with less swell later in the day (about a 20% decline in the afternoon). Second, swell from hurricanes getting this close to the coast mean bursty energy, with infrequently sized sets, timing between sets, and waves per set. And of course Ivo hasn't peaked yet, and only falls in a 1-day swell window to confirm. Since my next report won't be updated here until Sunday, I will post updates on our Facebook page if anything deviates from this forecast.
In any case, it appears Ivo's swell will linger to a somewhat lesser degree Monday the 26th (chest to head high), at least for the morning, with swell backing off Monday afternoon.
Wednesday the 28th (late) into Thursday the 29th (peak) should see light to moderate south swell from a recent storm near Pitcairn. This is expected to bring waist to at times chest high waves to south facing breaks, angled from 185° with periods 16-18 seconds. This swell will likely linger Friday the 30th.
Saturday the 31st is on track to see moderate southern hemi swell from a storm entering the Tasman Sea, moving north. At a distance of over 6,100 nautical miles from SoCal, with numerous, energy-soaking island obstacles between it and us, swells from this region have a tough time bringing waves to SoCal. But, models have stayed consistent with earlier runs showing 30' seas on an ideal course, which would send SoCal chest high waves from 230° with periods 16-18 seconds. This storm appears to be coming to its peak shortly, so I should have a better idea in time for my Sunday report. I'll keep you posted.
Here's how the day-to-day is breaking down so far:
Friday the 23rd expected to run chest high at most all breaks.
Saturday the 24th is expected to run chest high at south facing breaks and waist to chest at west facing spots. However, swell from Ivo will likely build late in the day at south facing breaks, possibly in the evening, but forerunners are possible in the afternoon.
Sunday the 25th is expected to run 2' overhead at south facing breaks with good SE exposure, chest to head high at other south facing breaks. West facing breaks will likely run waist high with pluses at breaks with some SW exposure. Peak swell appears to be in the very early AM.
Monday the 26th looks about chest to head high in the AM at SE exposed breaks, with smaller surf later in the day. West facing breaks will likely run waist max.
Tuesday the 27th looks about waist max everywhere.
Wednesday the 28th looks about waist high at south facing breaks and knee to waist at west facing spots.
Thursday the 29th looks about waist to at times chest high at south facing breaks and knee to waist at west facing spots.
Friday the 30th, so far, looks about waist high everywhere with the better size at south facing spots..
Saturday the 31st, so far, is expected to run chest high at south facing breaks.
Sunday the 1st, so far, is expected to run chest high at south facing breaks.
Monday the 2nd, so far, is expected to run waist to chest high at south facing breaks.
High pressure remains moderate to strong over the American West, but a robust low from the Gulf is pushing up against it, which models now say should create stronger than expected gradients, and subsequently a hefty coastal eddy. This may affect southerly winds more than marine layer (more on that below). Late burn-offs are expected at the beaches today and Friday with max beach temps in the low to mid 70s. Saturday should see the coastal eddy (and Gulf low) exit the picture, allowing for an early burn-off and max beach temps in the mid 70s. Sunday looks similar, and beach weather next week looks fair with the usual burn-offs and temps. Long range models show Ivo's moisture reaching SoCal sometime early next week, but no rain is in the forecast as Ivo's energy would be nearly nil by then — according to the models this morning.
Winds at 6:00 AM were light and variable most everywhere. Afternoon onshores, mostly from the WSW, are expected to reach 8-12 mph. Southerly winds in the 5-10 mph range are expected early on Friday, and wind-prone spots, mostly north of OC, could see southerlies pick up early to mid AM into the 10-15 mph range at times. Saturday is looking at early AM southerlies 5-10 mph, with very little change throughout the day. Sunday will likely see AM light and variables with some southerly element, and afternoon onshores 8-12 mph.
Until my next report (Sunday), take care, be safe, and smile in the lineup!