As of 8:00 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 (NHC Advisory #26): Hurricane Hilary continues to maintain Category 3 strength, with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles, with Hilary presently moving west (270°) at 10 mph. The hurricane is expected to turn west-northwest later today, then turn north on Wednesday.
The Point Loma Wavewatch forecast has been upgraded slightly, with Hilary now expected to produce south swell conditions peaking near 4 feet at 12 seconds (179°) by Thursday evening. Thursday will provide moderate-period combo swell conditions, as a WNW swell component of nearly equal size (3 feet at 13 seconds, 289°) is forecast to peak in the morning.
In addition to an upgrade in Thursday’s size, a slight south reinforcement is now forecast for Sunday, with swell conditions of 3 feet at 10 seconds (169°) expected. This second pulse could also see an upgrade if Hilary maintains her strength a bit longer than expected, especially if the hurricane swings north as forecast and tracks towards Southern California.
Real-time observations from the Point Loma buoy (@buoy46232) may begin to show signs of Hilary by Wednesday evening (3 feet at 13 seconds, SSE 166°), but a rising WNW swell might obscure it until Thursday morning. A moderate-period SSW swell will also be in the water on Wednesday, so the reported swell direction may fluctuate amongst all three components throughout the day, given their similar heights and swell periods.
We recommend keeping an eye on stations that are shielded from the WNW swell, such as the Camp Pendleton Nearshore buoy (@buoy46242), as they are more sensitive to the southerly swell components. These stations are expected to report a mixture of SSW and SSE swell on Wednesday, with surf from Hilary beginning to dominate by mid-day Thursday.