Filed: Forecast

Miriam’s Tropical Sensations

Hurricane Miriam – NHC Advisory 11 (September 24, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. PDT)

The latest expected track for Hurricane Miriam is very favorable for Southern California. As of 8:00 a.m. PDT Miriam has become a major hurricane of category 3 strength, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, and is currently moving NW at 12 mph. The official forecast expects Miriam to gradually turn northward and decrease in speed over the next few days, with possible further intensification over the next 12-24 hours.

While the storm is already located in the Southern California swell window, the northward (possibly northeast) turn would focus more swell energy towards Southern California, which is good news for spots that favor moderate-period, south to southeast swell. Keep an eye on the Point Loma forecast and real-time reports, particularly mid-week, which is when the swell’s initial impact is expected to arrive.

Hurricane Miriam – NHC Advisory 13 (September 24, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. PDT)

Update – NHC Advisory 13 as of 8:00 p.m. September 24, 2012:

Hurricane Miriam has started to weaken, with maximum sustained winds now in the 105 mph range (category 2). Additional, slow weakening is expected over the next 48 hours, with hurricane force winds extending outward up to 35 miles from the center. Microwave images indicate that the inner eyewall has collapsed, and the storm has taken on an asymmetric structure, likely due to southwesterly shear. Miriam is still expected to slow and turn north within 48-72 hours, at which time it should weaken below hurricane strength.

As a result of the latest observations, the official forecast has been slightly downgraded. Unfortunately, this means the surf forecast should be downgraded as well. It would have been nice to have major hurricane strength persist as the storm slowed and turned towards California, but it’s looking like Miriam will only make a modest, moderate-period SSE impact later this week.

Hurricane Miriam – NHC Advisory 15 (September 25, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. PDT)

Update – NHC Advisory 15 as of 8:00 p.m. September 25, 2012:

Hurricane Miriam remains a category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds near 100 mph. The forward speed of the hurricane has been slowing over the last 12-24 hours, and Miriam is currently moving west-northwest at 5 mph. A turn toward the northwest is expected later today, followed by a turn to the north-northwest on Wednesday. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 115 miles.

The decrease is tracking speed is favorable news in terms of swell production, as is the forecast path, however gradual weakening is expected to continue during the next 48 hours. A mixture of swell periods and directions are clearly visible in Wednesday’s San Clemente Basin forecast, with moderate WNW swell (4-5 feet at 12-13 seconds, 293°), moderate SSW swell (2 feet at 13 seconds, 203°), and moderate SSE swell from Miriam (2-3 feet at 12 seconds, 161°) all concurrently in the water.

Two things to note: (1) Buoy 46086 is located well offshore, and is exposed to much more swell energy than nearshore stations, so observations will be greater than those located closer to land. (2) Real-time primary swell reports over the next few days will likely be dominated by the longer-period WNW and SSW groundswells, but don’t be fooled, the SSE energy is still in the mix, it just isn’t expected to be dominant.

With all that energy in the ocean, expect some fun-sized combo-swell conditions on Wednesday and Thursday, but don’t expect to be sharing epic tales of Miriam with the kids twenty years from now. To truly make the most of the combo-swell conditions, you’ll need to find a spot with exposure to the WNW and SSE angles at moderate swell periods (think Dana Point and Oxnard), otherwise go with the SSE/SSW breaks.

Forecast Southern California/

Hawaii – First Significant NNW Swell This Sunday

The first significant NNW swell of the 2012-2013 Hawaii winter season is en route, with swell conditions at the Waimea Bay station expected to reach 8 feet at 15 seconds (332°) on Sunday, September 23. With moderate ENE trade winds forecast, conditions could be a touch windy, but the angle is favorable side/off-shore (there’s also a slight possibility of thunderstorms on both Sunday and Monday).

Looking at the charts for Sunday, September 23 (above), you can see that the brunt of the swell is focused more towards the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, with Hawaii receiving mainly sideband energy. Still, it should be enough to produce double-overhead surf along north facing shores and begin to push some of that summer sand around.

A second pulse is lining up behind Sunday’s and is expected to arrive in Hawaii on Thursday, September 27. A South Pacific pulse will also be arriving on Thursday, so there should be plenty of surf to choose from! This animation of the September 21, 2012 swell period forecast clearly shows both swells pushing across the Pacific.

Keep an eye on real-time reports from the Northwest Hawaii station for those long-period forerunners, or better yet, set an alarm to be automatically notified when they arrive!

Forecast Hawaii/

South Pacific – Labor Day Potential

South Pacific Swell Wave Height - August 28, 18:00 UTC

Swell Wave Heights for August 28 at 18:00 UTC as of 8/21/12 06:00 UTC

The long range forecast for the South Pacific is currently showing a potential swell that, if the model holds together, would deliver waves to Southern California during the latter half of the Labor Day weekend. The 180-hour outlook has been a bit agressive this summer, with storm systems falling apart before really reaching their potential, so don’t get too excited just yet.

Update as of August 22, 2012 at 23:00 PDT – What were we saying about downgrades? The expected swell height (132 hour run) is shown below. Still, it’s better than nothing and actually above average for this bummer of a summer.

Swell Wave Heights for August 28 at 18:00 UTC as of 8/23/12 06:00 UTC

Forecast Southern California/

Hurricane Emilia Enters Southern California Swell Window

Hurricane Emilia (2012)

Hurricane Emilia vs. Hurricane Eugene (2011)

Hurricane Emilia entered the Southern California swell window yesterday at Category 2 strength, but continued to intensify overnight, reaching Category 4 status with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. As of 8:00 a.m. PDT (NHC Advisory #12), Emilia is moving west-northwest (285°) at approximately 10 mph, with hurricane force winds extending outward up to 35 miles. Emilia is expected to gradually weaken beginning tonight, and continue weakening through Thursday, July 12th. The track model guidance predicts continued west-northwest movement, with a late westward turn, with only a slight change in speed.

The image above includes the best track data for Hurricane Eugene (2011), which entered the Southern California swell window on August 2, 2011 as a Category 2 hurricane and later intensified to Category 4. Looking at the historical wave observation data from the Point Loma station on Friday, August 5, 2011, reveals a steady pulse of South energy in the 3-5 foot at 13-15 seconds.

Primary Swell at Point Loma – Friday, August 5th, 2011

Although a northerly track is more favorable for Southern California surf production (the majority of a hurricane’s swell energy is focused along its path), Emilia is moving WNW at a slightly slower pace than Eugene did (10 mph vs. 14 mph), which gives the wind more time to transfer energy onto the sea surface. The latest forecast model for the Point Loma buoy shows a small, moderate-period SSE pulse arriving Thursday (July 12, 2012), with continued moderate south swell through the weekend (3 feet at 10 seconds). However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upgrade in the forecast, particularly for late Thursday into Friday, if Emilia maintains major hurricane strength and a relatively slow pace (10 mph or less).

Point Loma, CA – 5-Day Forecast as of 11 p.m. on July 9, 2012

I’d recommend keeping an eye on the Point Loma 5-day forecast over the next few days to see how things shape up. Given how dismal this summer has been so far in California, it’s definitely something to get excited about. Just how excited depends on what Emilia does in the next 24-48 hours.

Forecast Southern California/

XXL Swell Approaching Volcom Fiji Pro

An XXL-sized swell is about to collide with the ASP again this year, this time at the 2012 Volcom Fiji Pro. With conditions forecast to top out around 12 feet at 17 seconds, this upcoming swell is expected to be a touch smaller than 2011’s tube-fest that produced both Monster Tube and Ride of the Year XXL award nominations. This time around though, Kelly doesn’t have to skip the event to score massive Cloudbreak.

Here’s a look at how the primary swell data stacks up, with the 2011 swell first, followed by the forecast for Friday and Saturday. Long-period (20-second) forerunner energy is expected early Friday morning, with swell heights building throughout the day and reaching 12-feet by dark. Solid SSW energy continues to pour in on Saturday, with consistent swell conditions of 12 feet at 16 seconds (208°) expected.

While this swell isn’t expected to reach last year’s peak of 14 feet at 17 seconds, it will provide the largest surf contested so far by the ASP elite during the 2012 season. If the footage from last year’s swell is any indication, it’s definitely going to be a webcast worth tuning into.

Member Bonus: Here’s a link to the July 12, 2011 forecast (requires a Buoy Alarm account).

Contest Forecast South Pacific Surfing/

South Pacific – A Pair of Swells in the Long-Range Forecast

April 23, 2012 Update – The latest model run shows the surface wind faltering a bit around the 30th, which means the second pulse expected to arrive in Southern California on May 7th will not be as large as previously forecast.

Although the surface winds are now expected to back off on 30th (above), there is still a good 36-42 hour span of strong northerly winds in the 140° to 120° longitudes between April 27-29th.

The long-range South Pacific forecast shows two long-period swells lining up at the end of April. South America will be receiving the brunt of the energy, and may very well see XXL-size surf, but more northern exposures can expect to get in on the action as well. The two images above show swell period and swell height respectively on April 30th, 2012. Each of the swell trains are shaded and labeled.

The first swell (1) is currently forecast to reach Southern California on May 4th, while the second (2), larger pulse is expected to arrive around May 7th. Given that these charts reflect the very end of the 180-hour model run, things are obviously subject to change. However, May is looking very favorable at the moment, and we’ll be keeping a eye on the southern hemisphere to see how things develop over the next few days.


Southern California – Surf Forecast as of Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The forecast is looking very good for the next five days, with a combination of long-period swells expected from both the south and the west-northwest.

Currently, moderate SSW leftovers in the 2 feet at 13 second range are lingering throughout the region, but a new WNW swell is already making its way down the coast, with more northerly stations reporting a solid 12 feet at 14-15 seconds. Looking at the forecast for the Harvest station (above), you can see that the new WNW swell should peak at that location by early Thursday morning (12 feet at 13 seconds, 293°).

As that WNW pulse fades into the weekend, an even bigger swell arrives right on its heels, with swell conditions currently expected to reach a substantial 21 feet at 14 seconds (299°). If swell heights do top 20 feet at the station on Sunday, it will be the first time it’s done so in over a year. The bad news is that strong NNW winds (29 knots, 30+ mph) are also forecast and will likely provide victory at sea conditions for the most exposed breaks.

However, there is also a solid south swell forecast to peak on Saturday, with 17+ second long-period forerunners expected as early as Thursday. Conditions are looking really fun for Friday afternoon, with light winds and a building ground swell. Swell conditions peak at the Point Loma South station (above) on Saturday in the 4 feet at 17 second range (198°), but west to northwest winds increase throughout the weekend, so the best bet is to get it early.

Best Bet: Spots that like long-period southwest swell (4 feet at 17 seconds, 195-198°) on late Friday or early Saturday.

Wildcard: Spots that favor combo-swell conditions (long-period southwest and west-northwest) on Sunday, but find some shelter from the NNW winds or it’s a bust.

Forecast Southern California/

East Pacific – March 24, 2012 Outlook

East Pacific Significant Wave Height Forecast - March 24, 2012

East Pacific Significant Wave Height Forecast - March 24, 2012

A large, moderate-period WNW swell is on its way towards the West Coast, with another system set up directly behind it.

Initial forecasts for the second swell show it peaking next weekend (March 31) with significantly larger swell heights. Keep an eye on the Point Reyes station model to see how this system develops over the next few days.

A South Pacific ground swell is also making its way north and is expected to arrive next weekend as well. Can you say combo swell?


South Pacific – Spring Fling 2012

The long-range models are looking promising, with a swell currently forecast to build in the South Pacific into this weekend. If the models hold up, and the swell develops as currently forecast, expect a fresh round of southern hemisphere surf arriving around March 31st.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this system during the next few days to see how things develop. Our fingers are crossed that it doesn’t turn into a cruel April Fools joke.