SoCal Forecast
Updated most Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays

Thursday January 23, 2020 6:50 AM
By Nathan Cool

Surf Charts for SoCal

Rincon | Ventura, C-St. | County Line | Malibu | Hermosa | Huntington Beach
Trestles | Old Mans | Oceanside | Beacons | Sunset Cliffs

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Today (Thursday) the latest round of NW ground swell is on the way out but bigger swell is on the way for the weekend. Another good-sized NW ground swell is due Tuesday the 28th. Moderate NW ground swell is being watched for the weekend of the 1st. And long range models are lining up the next potential NWer for February 6th. Condition-wise: rain continues to elude the forecast; winds shift between off- and on-shore events; the tide is swinging wide; and water temps remain fair.

Early this morning, periods were primarily running 13 seconds from 295°.

Most west facing breaks were running chest to head high with occasional pluses at standouts. Direct south facing breaks were mostly waist to chest high.

Swell Forecast and Schedule
Buoys in the outer waters were running 7-9'. Nearshore buoys were running 2.5-3.5'.

Tide levels are swinging wide as we approach the New Moon Friday. Today we have a 6.2' high around 8:00 AM, a -1.2' low around 3:00 PM, and a 3.8' high around 9:30 PM.

Water temps were running 57-60° around most of SD and OC, although San Clemente reported 61° late yesterday. LA was mostly 57-60°. VC and SB have been running 57-59°

Swell-wise: Things are looking positive on the SoCal surf horizon, especially for conditions. But this comes at a sacrifice as rain will be harder to comeby. SoCal's in a bit of a Goldilocks position where the jetstream/storm-track is running at low enough latitudes across much of the North Pacific to guide swell-producing storms well into our swell window; but, high pressure will wax and wane over the American Southwest, creating a last-minute bubble of blocking high pressure that will push approaching storms north, away from our region. That pattern will be in place for a while.

Today we're on the backside of the latest swell in that recent train of NW ground swells, and tomorrow will see a further — yet temporary — decline. But bigger swell will be here for the weekend. Before diving into that, it's time for me to take my hat off and pass it around for handouts with a quick reminder that this report needs your support. A number of readers have donated, and more are donating every day — Thank You! Many more readers though have not (see details on donations here), so I'd encourage everyone who finds this report useful and hasn't helped out yet to consider giving a little to make sure this report continues. BTW: There is an automatic monthly option and you can give any amount you'd like — everything helps.

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And now, back to the surf...

Saturday the 25th remains on track to see the next NW ground swell. As you may recall from earlier reports, this is from a storm that broke off Japan nearly a week ago, swirled into a monstrosity in the Western Pacific, and then peaked in an ideal swell window at the Aleutian longitudes yesterday with 42' seas. That system still hasn't died off completely, pumping up seas near 25' at just 1,100 nautical miles from SoCal. That, just by itself comes in at slightly overhead, but bigger swell will accompany it from this storm's earlier peak. Running the numbers from this storm's peak late yesterday, size is coming in at 2' overhead at many west facing breaks, with the better exposed spots running 2-4' overhead. There is a good chance of seeing occasional set waves at the standouts-of-standouts nearing the DOH mark — although those would likely be rare. Swell angle is coming in at 290° with periods 16-18 seconds.

Note that a super deep high tide peaks mid morning Saturday, which could shut- or slow-down many spots, especially the reefs and points. Dawn patrols and lunchtime sessions will catch the mid tide levels.

Sunday the 26th should see this swell back off to head high to slightly overhead at west facing breaks, and then meander in the chest to head high range Monday the 27th. Monday the 27th though is looking at forerunners late in the day from the next NW ground swell.

Tuesday the 28th should see the next NW ground swell from another monstrous fetch that recently swirled out of the Western Pacific. Yesterday this system peaked with 35-40' seas just west of the Aleutian longitudes, and this morning appears to be running 35' just south of the Aleutians. Working the numbers on this, size is coming in at 1-3' overhead at most west facing breaks with some pluses at standouts. Swell should be angled from 295° with periods 16-18 seconds.

Wednesday the 29th should see swell linger to a somewhat lesser degree (head high+), with swell dropping off Thursday the 30th (chest high), more so Friday the 31st.

Saturday the 1st (building day?) into Monday the 2nd remains on track for the next NW ground swell, which models have upgraded slightly today. This is from the Japanese storm I mentioned in my last report that would pull the typical North Pacific maneuver and peak south of the Aleutians. Today the medium range models feel confident in 30' seas once crossing this longitudinal Rubicon for SoCal swell, with size coming in at chest to head high for most west facing breaks when this swell peaks, with periods running 14-16 seconds and swell angled from 295-300°. This is based on the 84h+ models this morning, so I should be able to wrap this up in my Sunday report.

Thursday the 6th is the next NW swell's ETA. In five days from now a large storm is expected to swirl off China, and a couple of days after that break into the Western Pacific once crossing Japan. Models place it at the Aleutian longitudes in about 9-10 days, with very strong, swell-producing winds. The fetch on this one could be very broad and seas rather high as well. So far this is one has all the markings of a sizeable surf event, but placing faith in the 200h+ models is a risky proposition. I'm on top of it; it earned a confident red pin in the charts; and I'll keep you posted.

Here's how the day-to-day is breaking down so far:
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Friday the 24th should start out at chest max at west facing breaks, but with swell building late in the day north of VC.

Saturday the 25th is expected to run 2' overhead at many west facing breaks, 2-4' overhead at well exposed spots. There is a chance of seeing occasional pluses at the standouts near DOH. However, a wide tidal swing will affect timing and size.

Sunday the 26th is expected to run head high to 2' overhead at most west facing breaks.

Monday the 27th looks about chest to at times head high at west facing breaks but with swell building during the day and forerunner pluses at times.

Tuesday the 28th is expected to run 1-3' overhead at many west facing breaks with occasional pluses at standouts.

Wednesday the 29th is expected to run chest to head high at west facing breaks, but possibly slightly overhead in the early morning at standouts.

Thursday the 30th looks about chest to at times head high at west facing breaks (more chest high though).

Friday the 31st, so far, looks about waist to chest max at west facing breaks.

Saturday the 1st, so far, looks like the building day for our next swell with swell reaching SoCal sometime during the morning with peak size chest to head high at west facing breaks.

Sunday the 2nd, so far, looks about chest to head high at west facing breaks.

Monday the 3rd, so far, looks about chest max at west facing breaks.

Tuesday the 4th, so far, looks about waist to chest at west facing breaks.

Wednesday the 5th, so far, looks similar.

Thursday the 6th is the current ETA for our next NW swell. I'll have more on that in my next report.

Weather Outlook
Rain is nearly absent from the forecast, even as we head into February. NOAA's latest assessment shows SoCal may see average rainfall in February, but things go drier after that. Looking at the weather models this looks to be true, jiving with climate models showing we're sliding away from a positive-trending Niño to a more negative-tilting neutral state.

For now, high pressure in one form or another will wax and wane over the American Southwest. Some troughs of low pressure will approach the region, but it will be hard to squeeze any precip out of them as they stay mainly to the north of SoCal.

Beaches today through Saturday should enjoy the benefits of the high over our area with max beach temps in the mid to upper 60s. Sunday then cools as a trough approaches the region, dropping beaches to the low 60s. That trough will likely bring some rain north of Pt. Conception, but not very likely to SoCal. Some models show SoCal getting a light shower or two along the coast Sunday night into early Monday morning, but more and more models are getting drier with each model run. At this point, I'd count on no rain at all along coastal regions of Socal.

Either way, Monday should remain cool in the low 60s, and then warm a tick or two Tuesday and Wednesday. This is when things get trickier in the forecast (the long range always does). High pressure is expected to build back over SoCal Tuesday the 28th through at least Thursday the 30th — check. Air temps would warm in kind — check. But as low pressure systems drop south on the east side of the high, models aren't quite in agreement on how strong nor exactly where these lows will track. As it stands right now, the more likely scenario is for a NNW wind event from an inside-slider low Tuesday the 28th, eventually turning into a moderate to strong NE Santa Ana Thursday the 30th, which could increase beach max temps to the 70° mark then.

Wind Outlook
Winds at 6:00 AM were light and variable most everywhere with an offshore element. Afternoon onshores are expected 10-15 mph. Friday should see light AM offshores with afternoon onshores 8-12 mph. Saturday should see light AM offshores and afternoon onshores 8-12 mph. Sunday will likely see onshores pick up early and reach at least 15 mph in the afternoon.

Until my next report (Sunday), take care, be safe, and smile in the lineup!


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