SoCal Forecast
Updated most Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays

Sunday May 26, 2024 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

Subscribe to be notified:
Get notified when this report is updated.


At a glance:
Today (Sunday the 26th) is a small day in the SoCal surf zone, but not for long. NW wind swell builds Wednesday the 29th into Thursday the 30th. Southern hemi ground swell builds after that, peaking over the weekend of the 1st-2nd. SW ground swell builds again Tuesday the 4th, peaking shortly after. We may see an injection of NW wind swell around that time. Decent sized SW ground swell is being watched for the 8th-9th. And more SW is pinging the SoCal surf radar for the 13th. Condition-wise: moderate May Gray this week with some burn-offs; winds pick up later in the week; the tide is swinging wide; and water temps are varied.

Why donate?

See donation progress report

Current Conditions:
Early this morning, periods were primarily running 13 seconds from 185° and 6-9 seconds from 300°.

Most breaks were running knee to waist high.

Buoys in the outer waters were running 6'. Nearshore buoys were running 1.8' (south facing) to 2.2' (west facing) with southern hemisphere ground swell measuring about 1.5' on the spectrum.

Tide levels are still swinging wide from last week's Full Moon. Today we have a -1' low around 6:30 AM, a 3.2' high around 1:30 PM, a 2.7' low around 5:00 PM, and a 6' high around 11:30 PM.

Water temps were running 62-65° in most of SD yesterday. OC was varied with Huntington 58°, Newport 61°, and San Clemente Pier 65° yesterday. LA was also varied with Santa Monica Pier running anywhere from 56-63° over the past 24 hours, indicative to the LA region as a whole as Zuma reported 56° yesterday while Hermosa reported 63°. In VC, Channel islands Harbor reported 59° this morning, up a couple ticks from yesterday. In SB, Stearns Wharf reported 58° this morning.

Surf Forecast:
Today (Sunday the 26th) through Tuesday the 28th will stay on the small side in SoCal from a lack of any notable activity across the Pacific.

Wednesday the 29th into Thursday the 30th should see an increase in NW wind swell as this cold upper-level low approaches the Pacific Northwest, creating a tight enough gradient between it and high pressure over California to whip up wind swell along the coast (model by UQAM):

Models have stayed the course, and now only 48 hours out confidence is high that this should produce chest high wind swell at west facing breaks Thursday the 30th, building during the day Wednesday the 29th (likely waist to chest Wednesday). Wind swell should be angled from at least 300° with periods 10 seconds. This wind swell shouldn't last long, backing off Friday the 31st, more so Saturday the 1st, allowing the next southern hemisphere swell to become the dominant feature in the SoCal surf-zone.

Friday the 31st (initial, slow building day) into Saturday the 1st (better building day), peaking Sunday the 2nd, we should see SW ground swell from this activity that recently broke off Antarctica and south of Pitcairn (model generated by XyGrib from NFCENS data):

The lobe of fetch on the right will provide the initial teaser swell Friday the 31st, and the larger fetch should result in the peak swell Saturday the 1st into Sunday the 2nd. Size should initially run waist high at south facing breaks Friday the 31st; waist to chest high Saturday the 1st; and chest+ Sunday the 2nd. Swell should be angled from 185° with periods 16 seconds. This should back down to waist to chest Monday the 3rd, but the next swell will be waiting in the wings.

Tuesday the 4th (initial building day) into Wednesday the 5th (a better building day) into Thursday the 6th (peak day) should see SW ground swell from this New Zealand activity (model generated by XyGrib from NFCENS data):

Like the Pitcairn swell before it, this too is a dual-pronged system (a Fujiwhara of sorts), thus the slow building trend as swell from the first lobe arrives Tuesday the 4th, the swell from the second fetch builds Wednesday the 5th into Thursday the 6th. The first lobe peaked late yesterday and the second should peak over the next 24 hours. This puts enough confidence on the calculations to call for initially waist to chest high surf at south facing breaks Tuesday the 4th; chest high Wednesday the 5th; and then chest+ Thursday the 6th. Swell should be angled from 220° with periods 16 seconds.

Tuesday the 4th through Thursday the 6th may also see NW wind swell come into the mix from this massive low pressure system that would pile-drive the Pacific Northwest, shown on this dramatic looking cloud-cover model (model from ECMWF):

The thinner green clouds would make for cloud days in SoCal around the 4th (with heavy rain across Washington and parts of Oregon from those darker clouds). Wind swell from that low that could be enough to put west facing breaks into chest high surf by Wednesday the 5th, increasing further Thursday the 6th, possibly to head high. Wind swell would be angled from the usual ≥300° with periods 10 seconds. But being such a close-proximity system, this one's too far out on the long range to call right now. South of the equator tells a different story from its 8- to 10-day swell windows.

Southern hemisphere ground swell dominates the longer range with some practically inevitable swells coming into SoCal starting over the weekend of the 8th-9th as this surf-worthy jetstream pattern I mentioned in my last report is indeed taking shape (model by NOAA MAG):

That bulge in the jetstream is what's needed to guide storms off Antarctica northward to direct the bulk of their swell energy at SoCal. In this case the bulge is near New Zealand, which is ideally angled from SoCal from 205-220°, allowing most south facing breaks to work swells from this region. And sure enough, swell-making storms are lining up to hop onboard that bend.

Saturday the 8th (building day) into Sunday the 9th (peak) is looking at one such swell, shown here on the 6-day models with 30-35' seas on an ideal northward course (model generated by XyGrib from NFCENS data):

Most of the six-day models this morning are in agreement, so it seems like a safe bet to call for at least chest high sets at south facing breaks by Sunday the 9th, with standouts seeing head high waves at times. Swell would be angled from 205° with periods 17 seconds.

Another system is showing up on the ten-day models for an ETA in SoCal on the 13th. That holds potential for chest high sets at south facing breaks, angled from 210° and periods 16 seconds. Both of these long range southern hemis need more monitoring, but as long as I have your support then I'll be able to keep this report going to keep you posted (more on that here).

Why donate?

See donation progress report

Here's how the day-to-day is breaking down so far:

Monday the 27th looks about knee to waist everywhere.

Tuesday the 28th looks about knee to waist everywhere.

Wednesday the 29th should run waist to chest high from wind swell at west facing breaks, and knee to waist at south facing spots.

Thursday the 30th should run chest high from wind swell at west facing breaks, and knee to waist at south facing spots.

Friday the 31st looks about waist to chest at west facing breaks and waist high at south facing spots.

Saturday the 1st is expected to run waist to chest high at south facing breaks and knee to waist at west facing spots.

Sunday the 2nd is expected to run chest+ at south facing breaks and waist high at west facing spots.

Monday the 3rd, so far, looks about waist to chest at south facing breaks and waist max at west facing spots.

Tuesday the 4th, so far, is expected to run waist to chest high at south facing breaks and waist high at west facing breaks.

Wednesday the 5th, so far, is expected to run chest high at south facing breaks. West facing breaks may run chest high from wind swell.

Thursday the 6th, so far, looks about chest+ at south facing breaks. West facing breaks may run chest+ as well.

Friday the 7th, so far, looks about chest max at both south and west facing breaks.

Saturday the 8th, so far, is likely to run chest high at south facing breaks as southern hemi swell fills in.

Sunday the 9th, so far, is expected to run chest to at times head high at south facing breaks.

Monday the 10th, so far, looks about chest high at south facing spots.

Tuesday the 11th, so far, looks about waist to chest at south facing spots.

Wednesday the 12th, so far, looks similar.

Thursday the 13th, so far, holds potential for our next southern hemi ground swell. More on that in my next report.

 

Weather Outlook:

Today (Sunday the 26th) through Friday the 31st should see a moderate onshore flow as high pressure builds into the American West and the thermal inversion remains moderate over SoCal. This should result in AM marine layer, burn-offs early afternoon (to about 30-40% cloud cover overhead by 1:00 PM), and max beach temps in the low to mid 60s. A trough of low pressure will push past SoCal to our north Wednesday the 29th into Thursday the 30th, but the only notable effect on SoCal beach weather is an increase in NW winds in the afternoon.

No major change is expected over the weekend of the 1st-2nd as the trough to our north moves east and weak high pressure backfills its void. A stronger low is expected to move into the Pacific Northwest by Tuesday the 4th (shown above for wind swell around that time), which could make for a very cloudy day in SoCal, and may cause a dip in air temps as well. No rain is expected in SoCal from this system.

 

Wind Outlook:
Winds at 7:00 AM (Sunday the 26th) were light and variable most everywhere. Onshores are expected this afternoon 8-12 mph. No major change is expected through Tuesday the 28th.

Wednesday the 29th should see AM light and variables with afternoon onshores to 15 mph, possibly stronger at the wind-prone spots. Thursday the 30th looks similar with possibly slightly stronger afternoon onshores. Winds should relax Friday the 31st.

 

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

—Nathan

Why donate?