SoCal Forecast
Updated most Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays

Sunday May 24, 2020 6:00 AM
By Nathan Cool


Surf Charts for SoCal

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Today (Sunday) is a small day for surf in SoCal, but that's actually a good thing as it signals NW wind swell's departure as southern hemisphere ground swells approach SoCal. SW ground swell slowly builds Monday, becoming better sized Tuesday into Wednesday. A better sized southern hemi is due Friday into Saturday. A moderate southerly ground swell is becoming likely by the middle of next week, lingering for quite a few days. Moderate southern hemi is also becoming likely a couple weeks out. Condition-wise: fair beach weather for the next few days shifts oddly late in the week; June gloom makes ontime arrival; winds remain moderate for the most part but southerly late in the week; the tide is swinging wide; and water temps are fair in most spots.

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Early this morning, periods were primarily running 8-10 seconds from 305-320° and 12-13 seconds from 185°.

Most all breaks were running knee to waist high with occasionally better size at standout west facing spots.

Swell Forecast and Schedule
Synopsis
Buoys in the outer waters off SoCal were running 7-8'. Nearshore buoys were running 2-3'.

Tide levels are still swinging a bit wide from the New Moon Friday. Today we have a -0.6' low around 5:30 AM, a 3.3' high around noon, a 2.3' low around 4:30 PM, and a 5.7' high around 10:30 PM.

Water temps were running 66-69° in most of SD yesterday, although Mission Beach dipped to 63° last night. OC was mostly 64-66°. In LA yesterday, Cabrillo reported 58°, Santa Monica and Hermosa reported 62°. In VC, Ventura Harbor reported 61° yesterday and Channel Islands Harbor has been running 57°. SB Harbor reported 61° this morning.

Swell-wise: The lack of NW wind swell is fading along the west coast and should remain nearly nil for the rest of the week (at least). Meanwhile, the southern hemisphere has been rather busy, brewing up seasonal swell-making storms, sending surf to SoCal. This week we'll see waves from a few of those systems.

Monday the 25th should see southerly swell slowly fill into SoCal, building further Tuesday the 26th, peaking Wednesday the 27th. This is from that system that peaked southeast of New Zealand more than a week ago, staying a good 5,800 nautical miles from SoCal with no northward movement. We'll get just a glancing blow from this, but we should initially see waist high-ish waves with occasional forerunners Monday the 25th, then chest high Tuesday the 26th, and then more consistently chest high (with pluses possible) Wednesday the 27th, which is when this swell will be bolstered a bit from an earlier storm near French Polynesia. However, since the New Zealand system stayed at such a low latitude, sets will likely be quite infrequent with long lulls between sets, and few waves per set. Swell should be angled from 210° with periods 18 seconds from the New Zealand swell, and 190° at 16 seconds from the French Poly.

After the New Zealand/French Poly combo lingers Thursday the 28th, we should see an increase in southerly swell from this surf-worthy scenario you may recall from last week's reports:

The storm on the right, traveling off Antarctica on a nearly direct, northerly course sent the bulk of its swell toward SoCal. Being almost smackdab on top of Pitcairn when this system peaked, it was relatively close at 4,000 nautical miles from SoCal, greatly reducing the amount of decay by the time swell reaches us. Calculations put this at head high (max) for most south facing breaks when this swell peaks late in the day Friday the 29th into early morning Saturday the 30th. Friday the 29th may start out at chest high at south facing breaks, and then build during the morning. Swell should be angled from 190° and periods 16-18 seconds.

Saturday the 30th, when the Pitcairn swell peaks, we should see additional swell in the mix from the other storm circled on that FNMOC model above. This New Zealand storm stayed in low latitudes a good 5,900 nautical miles from SoCal, but it should add chest high waves in the mix Saturday. This could also make for pluses at times from occasional constructive interference (when conditions are right for swells to merge). Either way, the New Zealand swell should provide energy from 210° with periods running 16-18 seconds.

Sunday the 31st should start to see southern hemi decline as the New Zealand storm faded rapidly over the past 24 hours. But not to worry, more swell should be headed our way.

Wednesday the 3rd into Thursday the 4th is when our next southern hemi ground swell is due from this system that will likely spin off Antarctica south of New Zealand and make an ideal northeast trek toward French Polynesia:

This NOAA Model is more bullish than others this morning, but taking the middle ground across the models this morning, this holds potential for surf running at least chest high at south facing breaks, possibly head high if all works out well over the next few days. It does appear though that chest high would initially be the max size Wednesday the 3rd with head high being more likely Thursday the 4th as this system would get a reform boost as it tracks north, and reach fairly high latitudes as well (about 4,500 nautical miles from SoCal). Swell would be angled from 200° with periods 16 seconds. Since its northward course could last a few days, swell in SoCal should linger to that length as well, with swell backing off over the weekend of the 6th-7th.

Monday the 8th could see moderate SW ground swell from a low latitude storm south of French Polynesia. This is out on the 160h+ models making it too early to spend time working the numbers, but it does look like a possible chest high swell maker for SoCal — so far.

Here's how the day-to-day is breaking down so far, but first, here's an ad to help pay the bills:

Monday the 25th looks about waist high everywhere, with spotty southern hemi forerunners at times.

Tuesday the 26th should run chest high at south facing breaks, possibly spotty at times.

Wednesday the 27th should run chest high with occasional pluses at south facing breaks.

Thursday the 28th should run chest high at south facing breaks.

Friday the 29th will likely start out at chest high at many south facing breaks with swell building during the morning, topping out at head high.

Saturday the 30th is expected to run head high at south facing breaks.

Sunday the 31st is expected to run chest high at south facing breaks.

Monday the 1st, so far, looks about waist to chest high at south facing breaks.

Tuesday the 2nd, so far, also looks about waist high at south facing breaks.

Wednesday the 3rd, so far, looks about chest high at south facing breaks.

Thursday the 4th, so far, will likely run chest+ at south facing breaks.

Friday the 5th, so far, looks about chest+ at south facing breaks.

Saturday the 6th, so far, looks about waist to chest high at south facing breaks.

Sunday the 7th, so far, looks about waist high at south facing breaks.

Monday the 8th, so far, looks about waist to chest high at south facing breaks.

Weather Outlook
There will be a number of shifts in weather through the forecast. Right now, high pressure is building into SoCal and an offshore flow is developing. In fact, many models show offshore gradients peaking right below Santa Ana levels for a few hours early Monday morning (-3mb on the LAX-DAG gradient where -5 is the Santa Ana threshold). While that would, almost any other time of year signal clear skies, we have the common thermal inversion this time of year where the deserts heat up and drift warm air over top of cooler coastal surface air, which thickens up marine layer that would otherwise dissipate (but instead gets smooshed downward).

Anywhooo...that's not the weird part; I'll get to that in a sec.

As high pressure builds today look for a timely burn-off and max beach temps in the high 60s to low 70s. Monday may see a bit more AM marine layer early but with a decently timed burn-off at the beaches and beach max temps around 70° to the low 70s. Tuesday and Wednesday look warmer as high pressure peaks over the American Southwest, with SoCal beaches warming to the mid to upper 70s. Wednesday and Thursday though may have a bit more marine layer in the morning as hot desert heat by then would make for one heck of a thermal inversion at the beaches.

And then things get freaky (for a weather watcher). Right now, we have an odd, cut-off low spinning to the southwest of SoCal, clearly visible in the center of this NOAA sat shot, rotating hypnotically counterclockwise:

Models are aligned this morning on the idea of this cut-off low making its way to SoCal by the second half of the week. And then, over the weekend it would merge with a large trough of low pressure pushing south from the Gulf of Alaska. This would initially bring a southerly onshore flow Friday into the weekend, followed by a NW onshore flow by Monday the 1st, lasting through at least 6/4. Both onshore flows would stir in marine layer, so burn-offs could be tough at the coast. Models also show potential drizzle at the beaches by Wednesday the 3rd. But, we're talking about a low that's cut off from the jetstream, making it somewhat unpredictable. Yet, with this feature being on the models since last week and with nearly all models in complete agreement on it today, confidence is high.

Wind Outlook
Winds at 6:00 AM were light and variable most everywhere with a light offshore element in many spots. Afternoon onshores are expected to reach 15 mph. Monday looks similar, with possibly a bit more offshore push in the very early AM. No major change is expected Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday will likely see AM light and variables with afternoon onshores to 15 mph. Friday will likely see a bit more onshore element in the AM light-and-variables with southerly breezes likely, and with afternoon onshores at least 15 mph. Saturday is expected to see southerlies early and afternoon onshores to 15 mph.

 

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

—Nathan

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