Transworld SURF Forecast Update 20.09.10

By Adam Wright -

FOR the last few weeks here in SoCal it has seemed like Fall was just around the corner…teasing us…"always just a day or two away before the weather will break and we will have warm sunny skies, offshore winds, and combo swells." Instead we kept slogging through what seemed almost like an endless Spring…eddy winds, inconsistent Southern Hemi swells and almost no tropical activity to speak off.

Well I have got some good news for you guys that have been waiting for the seasons to finally get their poop together. It seems that over the past 2-3 days (since the last forecast) we have had major shifts in both the South and North Pacific, and even the tropics are starting to get a little frisky.

At this point it looks like the NPAC is going to get a good sized WNW-NW swell heading toward the West Coast with some juice pushing over to Hawaii along the way. The SPAC is going to quiet down a bit for the West Coast, but it does have some energy swirling around New Zealand that has potential to send a solid swell to Fiji and Samoa…and then a smaller version on up to Hawaii. Anyway…I will get to the details in a second…I just wanted to let the feeling of Fall soak in a little deeper.

North Pacific
The North Pacific, which as of early last week was pretty freaking dull, came out of hibernation pretty much ready to tear something up. All it took was a couple of small, tropical/sub-tropical systems to chew a gap in the NE high-pressure and letting a colder, larger, and more intense storm move into position to give the high-pressure a good ass-kicking.

These storms are setting up a string of NW energy for the West Coast…and even some bump that will push over into the Hawaiian Islands. California actually gets a little pulse first…a small jump in NW energy that came out from a storm deep in the Gulf of Alaska (and a bit too far to send waves back against the grain to Hawaii). This first swell will arrive in the West Coast on Sept 21 and peak into the 22nd. Spots north of Point Conception will have some overhead surf…even sets going a few feet overhead at the standouts. Spots further south will have a lot of shadowing issues so expect smaller, below chest high for most of the better spots.

The Second storm is the one that I really am keeping an eye on…this one looks much more intense and it also it looks like it drops lower in latitude capitalizing on the path carved by the storms that rolled through a couple of days before. This storm has characteristics that are much more in line with what NPAC winter storms should look like. In fact this storm will send out a decent sized shot of N swell (340-360) for Hawaii that hits on the 25th with overhead+ surf at the average spots.

This swell does eventually hit the West Coast and it looks like the majority of the energy will hit around Northern and Central California with surf in those parts seeing waves in the shoulder-overhead+ range for most spots with some sets going several feet overhead at times at the top spots. These swells would start showing North of Point Conception on the 26th…and then show a smaller version of the swell in the more shadowed areas of Southern California.

The South Pacific
With this latest round of S-SW swell (180-220) on the way out…it looks like the SPAC will quiet down a bit…well at least the portion of Ocean that rolls through our swell window. It never really goes completely flat or anything, but we will be back into the semi-marginal sizes once this bigger swell fades away. Fortunately it looks like the weather and the swell mix will actually cooperate a bit (except on Wednesday), so expect some surfable conditions over the next several days.

Further out there is a very strong storm moving over (maybe through) New Zealand and it is supposed to maintain some intensity as it does. Unfortunately forecast charts aren't showing the storm doing anything particularly interesting for Socal…oh it is lining up one of those really inconsistent SW'ers that seem to show sets every 20 minutes, but it won't be much bigger than shoulder high when it finally hits near the end of the month. Check out the gap in the swell period behind Tahiti as the swell passes through those islands…too bad that gap lines right up with Southern California.

The tropics are trying to get all frisky all of a sudden too…there is an area of thunderstorms just off the coast of Cabo that is threatening to reach some sort of tropical depression or storm strength before too long.

Unfortunately it also sounds like the whole system is going to hit some shear and cooler water, which will unravel that thing pretty fast. I would be pretty surprised if it actually sustains any sort of cohesion if it manages to develop at all.

the Next Long-range forecast will be posted on Thursday, September 23, 2010.

Adam Wright
Surf Forecaster