SoCal Forecast
Updated most Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays

Thursday December 2, 2021 5:45 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 (Thursday) moderate NW ground swell continues in SoCal as another NorthPac injection comes ashore, peaking Friday. The North Pacific pattern has taken a shape that will affect waves, weather, and wind for the next couple of weeks; wind swell will initially be one byproduct with swells due Tuesday the 7th and Friday the 10th. But then NW ground swell stands a chance of boosting surf two weeks from today. Condition-wise: offshore flow weakens through the forecast; precip chances tease the forecast with higher probability late next week; a couple of northerly wind events are being watched; a radical tidal swing is underway; and water temps remain fair for this time of year.

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Current Conditions:
Early this morning, periods were primarily running 12-14 seconds from 300°.

Most west facing breaks were running waist to chest high. South facing spots were running waist high.

Buoys in the outer waters off SoCal were running 5-6'. Nearshore buoys were running 1.7-2.2', up slightly from a couple days ago.

Tide levels are swinging exceptionally wide as we approach a New Moon Friday (the 3rd). Today we have a 7' high around 7:00 AM, a -1' low around 2:00 PM, and a 4.2' high around 8:00 PM.

Water temps were running 61-63° in most of SD and OC yesterday, although Mission Beach continues to report lower at 59°. LA was running 59-60°. VC and SB were running 59-60°.

Surf Forecast:
While NW lingers today from the swell that peaked yesterday, another moderate NW'er is coming ashore today, peaking Friday the 3rd from this storm you might recall from earlier reports that got blocked by high pressure sitting over our area (model generated by XyGrib from NFCENS data):

After maxing out with chest high waves at west facing breaks Friday, this swell should linger to a lesser degree Saturday the 4th (waist to chest), and back off further Sunday the 5th (waist max at west facing spots).

Although swells are pinging the SoCal surf radar, the forecast will be dominated by a La Niña pattern that's taken shape with La Niña now well underway. In fact, over the past couple weeks, water temps in the eastern equatorial Pacific (o monitor El Niño and La Niña) were rather strong on the Niña side, going beyond -1°C from normal (positive numbers signal El Niña, negative La Niña). Models across the board show this being temporary with a return to a neutral or full-blown El Niño by summer 2022. For now, the current La Niña-like pattern has parked high pressure over our area and the Northeast Pacific (model by NOAA MAG):

This has been keeping the jetstream/storm-track (green) to the north, blocking swell-making lows from crossing our surf-worthy Rubicon along the Aleutian-Hawaiian longitudes. Once WestPac-originating storms do that, they tend to pick up momentum to whip up stronger seas for bigger surf — and eventual rain somewhere along the west coast. Blocking high pressure though is putting the kibosh on that, instead favoring wind swell development (along with Santa Anas) as the blocking high expands and contracts (like virtual lungs of the North Pacific), contracting at times enough to place the jetstream over the west coast like this, which should happen this coming Tuesday (model by NOAA MAG):

As two titans of atmospheric pressure clash against the west coast, the dominant high, turning clockwise, against the low turning counterclockwise, will crank up the west coast wind machine. This is the main ingredient for our next swell.

Tuesday the 7th will likely see NW wind swell from that pattern above, enough to put west facing breaks into chest, to at times, head high wind swell waves (chest high is more likely on most sets), angled from 300°+ with periods 10-12 seconds. This is out on the 120h+ models, but models have been consistent with this so confidence is high. Along with that wind swell we should also see a glancing blow of WNW ground swell from this system you might recall from earlier reports, taking a direct southerly dive to Hawaii from the Aleutians (model by FNMOC):

Models are in agreement today on 30' seas, but moving south and then southwest, sending SoCal a mere fraction of its swell energy. Hawaii is in this storm's direct line of sight (see Hawaii forecast here) so HI north shores will see sizable surf a couple days earlier (5th). For SoCal, this should add just waist high ground swell waves into the mix, which may be hard to notice since NW wind swell is due at the same time. Swell from this should be angled from 285° with periods 16 seconds for SoCal.

BTW: Conditions are somewhat in question for the 7th-8th as some models show light smatterings of precip, but most models favor some kind of wind event. I'll cover that in the Weather and Wind sections below.

Friday the 10th into Saturday the 11th will likely see a repeat performance from La Niña's wind swell machine. Models show another contraction of the Gulf blocking high, placing a leg of the jetstream south along the west coast to drive another low south to SoCal. Wind swell would run chest to maybe head high from this one, but size would be diametric to conditions: if we get enough wind to kick up wind swell of that size, then the low would be close enough to SoCal to affect weather and winds. In fact, many models show rain in SoCal Friday the 10th — eight days out on the models...take it for what it's worth. Yet the weather pattern is changing from less off- to more on-shore, going against the grain of recent model runs, so this is becoming somewhat probable. This needs more monitoring over the next few days...I'm on it.

BTW: We should also see background southern hemi over the weekend of the 11th-12th from a recent, small storm off Antarctica south of French Polynesia. This would provide waist high waves on its own, but will likely be overshadowed by wrap from NW wind swell.

In less than two weeks from now, models show the jetstream shape-shifting into something more ground swell-like, with a more favorable southerly dip in the Gulf of Alaska, farther from our coast (model by NOAA MAG):

Blocking high pressure would move east while another area of high pressure sets up in the western Pacific. This opens a short window of opportunity for ground swell development in the Gulf of Alaska, creating this would-be monster fetch that would place 35' seas just 900 nautical miles from SoCal (model generated by XyGrib from NFCENS data):

This is based on super extended, 300-hour-plus models, making it too early to call today. In any event, this is not the most ideal position for ground swell development (it'd be better at lower latitudes, forming farther west), but during a La Niña this is about as good as it can get. DOH surf is the optimistic calculation for the 16th-17th time frame coming off this model, but don't hold your breath just yet — there's still a long way to go before making a call on this one. BTW: some precursor development in the Gulf could bring a smaller swath of NW swell (chest max) around the 14th, but that too is based on the extended outlook. Either way I'm on it, and I'll keep you posted.

And last but not least before getting to the rest of the report, I updated the donation progress report yesterday with good news. After asking for support following a deficit in October, donations increased, bringing November out of the red! I am extremely thankful. We're not quite out of the woods just yet though with a bit more to go to meet the donation goal for 2021. And as I've done in prior years, any overage will get carried over to 2022. I want to thank all of you for your support; I literally could not do this without you. I'm humbled, and extremely grateful to all of you who have provided your support to keep this report alive. Thank you!

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

Friday the 3rd looks about chest high at west facing breaks; however, an extremely deep high tide early to mid morning could shut down many spots.

Saturday the 4th looks about waist to chest high at west facing breaks; however, an extremely deep high tide mid morning could shut down many spots.

Sunday the 5th looks about waist max at west facing breaks.

Monday the 6th looks about knee to waist high at west facing spots.

Tuesday the 7th should run chest to at times head high at west facing breaks, mostly from wind swell.

Wednesday the 8th should run chest high at most west facing breaks, mostly from wind swell.

Thursday the 9th looks about waist high at west facing breaks.

Friday the 10th, so far, holds potential for more wind swell, possibly in the chest to head high range.

Saturday the 11th, so far, looks similar.

Sunday the 12th, so far, looks about chest max at west facing breaks.

Monday the 13th, so far, looks about waist high at west facing breaks.

Tuesday the 14th, so far, looks about chest high at west facing breaks.

Wednesday the 15th, so far, looks about chest high at west facing breaks.

Thursday the 16th, so far, holds potential for sizable NW ground swell...more on that in my next report.


Weather Outlook:
Although high pressure has been parked over SoCal with an offshore flow, it hasn't been able to outdo an onshore flow over the region with pressure gradients more neutral than offshore. As a result, we're now looking at AM marine layer through at least early next week. Sunday and Monday should see earlier burn-offs, but now though Saturday most beaches are looking at mid to late AM burn-offs. Max beach temps should reach the low 60s today through Saturday. Sunday and Monday should warm to the low 70s as high pressure strengthens, but with an onshore flow more likely staying put (just weaker Sunday and Monday), that may be overdoing it.

Tuesday the 7th should see an onshore flow return, and some models show AM drizzle to boot. AM marine layer is highly likely, with a mid to late AM burn-off and max beach temps in the mid 60s.

Wednesday the 8th and/or Thursday the 9th are looking at a potential northerly wind event as a low dives south through the state's interior. This could scour out any AM marine layer early, and there is a small chance this could become a NNE wind event. Beach temps would likely top out in the mid to upper 60s either way.

Friday the 10th into Saturday the 11th could see precip in SoCal as a semi-wet looking low dives south to SoCal. This would take a half over-water trek to pick up moisture, but it could easily take an inland route, turning into yet another dry, windy kind of system. Most models favor precip, but I'm not buying that just yet. It earned a red pin in the charts for now...I'll keep you posted.


Wind Outlook:
Winds at 6:00 AM were light and variable most everywhere. Afternoon onshores are expected to reach 10 mph. Friday and Saturday look similar.

Sunday should see AM light and variables with onshores picking up by late morning, reaching 15 mph in the afternoon. Monday looks similar, but with possibly a bit of a southerly element for AM sessions (coastal eddy texture). Same goes for Tuesday the 7th.

Wednesday the 8th into Thursday the 9th is our next wind event. Models are tossing around either a northerly or northeasterly wind event, with models too far apart to make a call today. I'll know more in time for my next report.


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


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