SoCal Forecast
Updated most Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays

Sunday May 28, 2023 6:15 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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At a glance:
Today (Sunday the 28th) SSE ground swell is filling in, peaking Monday the 29th. Swell will linger to a somewhat lesser degree into the middle of the week. Minor NW ground- and wind-swells are due during the second half of the week. A moderate southern hemi combo builds Saturday the 3rd into Sunday the 4th. NW wind swell may increase Monday the 5th. Good sized SSE ground swell is becoming highly likely for the 6th-7th, lingering for a few days after. The next swell on the charts after that is a potential SW ground swell for the 14th-15th. Condition-wise: heavy marine layer continues but stronger some days with drizzle-plus and a temporary reprieve later in the week; longer range outlooks signal a different trend; winds trend onshore this week and could become stronger next week; tide levels are moderate for now; and water temps remain fair.

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Current Conditions:
Early this morning, periods were consistent at 15 seconds from 185° but periods 18-20 seconds were also coming ashore periodically from 175°, forerunners for the swell peaking Monday. NW wind swell was minimal nearshore at 8 seconds from 320°.

Most south facing spots were running waist to chest high with rare pluses. Direct west facing breaks are looking at waist max waves.

Buoys in the outer waters were running just 3' as NW energy has dropped like a rock. Nearshore buoys were running 1.6-2.2' with southerly ground swell being nearly all of that.

Tide levels are moderate for the next few days. The next lunar event is a Full Moon Saturday the 3rd, which will create a wider swing later this week; however, typical for this time of year the shallowest lows will be before dawn and the deepest highs well after dark. Today we have a 3.5' high around 4:30 AM, a 1' low around 11:30 AM, a 4.2' high around 6:30 PM, and a 2' low around midnight.

Water temps were averaging 64° in most of SD and OC. LA was running 60-62°. In VC, Channel Islands Harbor reported 62° overnight. SB Harbor reported 59° last night.

Surf Forecast:
SSE ground swell is filling in today and will peak Monday the 29th from this system you might recall from earlier reports that peaked southeast of Pitcairn about eight days ago (model generated by XyGrib from NFCENS data):

This system got within 4,900 nautical miles from SoCal on an ideal, northeasterly course, sending us a decent amount of wave energy. When this swell peaks Monday the 29th, south facing breaks are look at consistent chest high sets with head high sets at breaks able to work a 175° swell angle. SSE ground swell should continue with chest+ sets Tuesday the 30th and chest-max Wednesday the 31st as a reform fetch followed that system, sending additional wave energy to SoCal.

Thursday the 1st through the coming weekend should see a slight increase in NW wind swell in the mix, but fading southern hemisphere ground swell will outdo that. NW wind swell from Thursday the 1st through the Sunday the 4th looks about waist high at west facing breaks, along with waist high NW ground swell waves Thursday and Friday from a distant Western Pacific storm last week. South facing spots meanwhile will hover in the waist max range Thursday and Friday before the next southerly swell Saturday.

Saturday the 3rd (building day) into Sunday the 4th we're looking at a building trend from two swells, with the first being an initially minor injection from this deep low latitude activity southeast of New Zealand (model by FNMOC):

On its own that'll produce waist high spotty swell, given its distance of about 6,300 nautical miles from SoCal, angled from 205-210° with periods 15 seconds. But a better sized swell will also build Saturday the 3rd, peaking Sunday the 4th from a much bigger system near Easter Island that is getting relatively close to SoCal, with another system on its tail (model by FNMOC):

That first system (3rd-4th) is coming to its peak right now and should top out with 30' seas at just 4,000 nautical miles from SoCal (very close for a southern hemisphere storm). This should bring initially waist to chest high waves (and building) to south facing spots Saturday the 3rd, peaking Sunday the 4th with chest+ sets, angled from 175° with periods 16-18 seconds.

Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th could see an increase in NW wind swell to around chest high at west facing breaks as models show an increase in winds parallelling the California coast from a strong low pressure system passing through the region. It's a bit early to call that close-proximity activity right now, so I'll leave it as a footnote and keep you posted. More southern hemi though is on the way.

Tuesday the 6th (building day) into Wednesday the 7th should see another round of SSE ground swell from that second system noted above. The medium range models agree this will become a bigger system than the one ahead of it (model by FNMOC):

Running the numbers this morning, this so far is coming in at chest to head high at most south facing breaks, with the head high sets more frequent at breaks able to work a SE swell angle. Swell should be angled from 175° and periods 16-18 seconds. I still have a few more days to go before calling it, but all models are in agreement and they've been very consistent, so confidence is high; on top of that, models also show some reform action that could keep at least chest high swell going from Thursday the 8th through Saturday the 10th. Models are consistent with the swell extension, but it is out on the longer range outlook and needs more monitoring.

Friday the 9th into Saturday the 10th originally had potential for NW ground swell from Typhoon Mawar, which has weakened from 60' seas last week to 40' this morning. Although Mawar expected to retrograde back out to sea and then trekl northeast toward the Aleutians, models today show a much weaker system by then, so any swell reaching SoCal would be minimal. Models have been back and forth on this for days, and if anything changes and this becomes surf-worthy for SoCal I'll let you know. For now, I'll drop it from the SoCal surf forecast.

The next swell on the charts right now is for the 14th-15th time-frame from this system that could form near New Zealand (model generated by XyGrib from NFCENS data):

Some models show this system smashing into New Zealand, losing surf-worthy status for SoCal. That NFCENS model is more favorable though, keeping the system in deeper waters east of New Zealand, which would provide chest high sets for SoCal's south facing breaks, angled from 215° with periods 16-18 seconds. This though is out on the 180-hour-plus models, making it too early to call right now. But I'll stay on top of it and with your support I'll be able to keep you posted.

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

Monday the 29th is expected to run chest to at times head high at south facing breaks, with chest high the more frequent size at many south facing spots but with the head high pluses more common at breaks able to work a 175° swell angle.

Tuesday the 30th should run at least chest high at south facing spots, with head high pluses occasionally at SSE exposed breaks.

Wednesday the 31st looks about chest max at south facing spots.

Thursday the 1st looks about waist to chest max at south facing spots and waist high at west facing breaks.

Friday the 2nd looks about waist high everywhere with occasional chest high pluses at standout west facing spots.

Saturday the 3rd looks about waist to chest high at south facing spots and waist high at west facing breaks, but with southerly swell building during the day.

Sunday the 4th is expected to run chest high at most south facing breaks with occasional head high pluses at standouts. West facing breaks should run waist to chest.

Monday the 5th, so far, is expected to run chest high at south facing spots from ground swell, and chest high at west facing breaks from wind swell.

Tuesday the 6th, so far, is expected to run at least chest high at south facing spots and chest max at west facing breaks.

Wednesday the 7th, so far, looks about chest to head high at south facing spots and waist high at west facing breaks.

Thursday the 8th, so far, looks about chest high at south facing breaks.

Friday the 9th, so far, looks about waist high at south facing spots.

Saturday the 10th, so far, looks waist high at south facing spots.

Sunday the 11th, so far, looks waist high at south facing spots.

Monday the 12th, so far, looks waist high at south facing spots.

Tuesday the 13th, so far, looks waist high at south facing spots.

Wednesday the 14th could see the next southern hemi swell in SoCal...more on that in my next report.


Weather Outlook:
There'll be very little change in weather at the coast this week as a heavy marine layer continues with burn-offs hard to come by; however, there is potential for at least partial clearing some days, yet heavy with AM drizzle other days. The easy part is once again beach max temps, which will hover in the low to mid 60s all week. But the tougher nut to crack is what will happen as a train of cut-off lows pass through SoCal this week (model by NOAA MAG):

A weak trough of low pressure is sagging south to SoCal, but these lows are mostly cut-off from the jetstream, thus lacking the more predictable guidance. As each low nears and/or passes through SoCal, their counterclockwise spins will draw additional ocean moisture into SoCal, keeping a hefty onshore flow in place. But that won't happen for a couple more days; in fact, today (Sunday the 28th) and Monday the 29th should see an ever-so-slight decrease in onshore strength. This should provide some thinner marine layer in the afternoon at the coast today and somewhat Monday, but completely clear skies will still be hard to come by at the beaches.

Tuesday the 30th should see the first low approach the coast, increasing the onshore flow enough to warrant drizzle for the morning sessions; in fact, some models show "measurable" precip at the coast in the hundredths of inch — what I like to call drizzle-plus. Burn-off will be especially tough Tuesday with clearing not likely at most beaches. Same goes for Wednesday the 31st and Thursday the 1st.

Friday the 2nd should see a weak ridge of high pressure nose north into SoCal. HUZZAH!! But excitement for the semblance of sunny skies should be kept in check as the ridge is small, weak, and short-lived. Still, beaches could see some clearing around early afternoon, but drizzle-plus is still highly likely for the morning.

Saturday the 3rd may see an earlier burn-off before another gang of lows makes their way to SoCal. The effect on that next round of onshore-ness would be stronger NW winds, which, paralleling the coast, would whip up coastal eddies for thicker morning marine layer.

All the while, the thermal inversion that's been preventing the morning marine layer from dissipating is starting to equalize. But with the train of lows approaching the coast and then more lows approaching a week from now with coastal eddy potential, it's like playing whack-a-mole with burn-offs: as one onshore weather element is replaced by another, keeping the May Gray/June Gloom well entrenched along the SoCal coast.

Looking further out on the cloudy horizon, NOAA's CPC keeps below normal temps in place through at least Sunday the 11th, indicative of a robust June Gloom. And, this below-normal temperature trend could continue through most of June. This is cooler than the original CPC forecast for June (here), so their 3-month forecast (here), which just a few weeks ago called for slightly warmer temps this summer, is likely overly optimistic. Moreover, if we look at how El Niño is shaping up, we can see the fly in forecast soup.

Right now, sea surface temps are on the rise across the El Niño zones in that green box (model from NOAA Coral Reef Watch):

Although El Niño is gaining ground, colder than normal waters (blue) remain well off the coast of SoCal. Those colder waters are what's keeping the thermal inversion in place around SoCal as cool ocean air gets trapped by desert heat rising and spreading out over the coast in the atmosphere. Until the waters off SoCal can warm significantly, even by a few more degrees, we can expect thermal inversions to keep thicker than normal marine layer days in the forecast for SoCal. As El Niño strengthens this summer that could change, along with all the other weather- and surf-worthy elements that come along with a Niño.

Well, that's about enough rambling I suppose for a Sunday :) Lemme finish up this report with a note on winds and then call it a wrap.


Wind Outlook:
Winds at 6:00 this morning were light and variable most everywhere with some eddy texture in many spots. Onshores should pick up by noon and reach 15 mph this afternoon. Monday looks similar. Tuesday should see more of an onshore push with some southerly eddy texture possible and afternoon onshores 15-20 mph. Wednesday should see AM light and variables with an onshore element and afternoon onshores 10-15 mph. Thursday should see AM light and variables with an onshore element and afternoon onshores 10-15 mph. Friday should see lighter AM breezes, and afternoon onshores 9-14 mph.


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


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