SoCal Forecast
Updated most Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays

Tuesday March 2, 2021 5:50 AM
By Nathan Cool


Surf Charts for SoCal

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Today (Tuesday) is a fairly small day for surf in SoCal. Minor to moderate NW ground swell is due Wednesday. SW ground swell is due Friday. NW ground swell is due this weekend. NW swell is also being watched for early next week. And the North Pacific storm-track takes on a new shape to affect waves, weather, and winds for a while. Condition-wise: onshore flow returns; a mostly southerly rain event is due shortly and other chances tease the forecast; winds vary through the forecast with various flavors of onshore dominance; tide levels are fair; and water temps are holding steady for the most part.

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Early this morning, periods were primarily running 12 seconds from 305°.

Most west facing breaks were running waist to at times chest high. Direct south facing breaks were mostly knee to waist.

Swell Forecast and Schedule
Synopsis
Buoys in the outer waters off SoCal were running 5'. Nearshore buoys were running 1.3-2.1'.

Tide levels are evening out from the recent swing. Today we have a 0.5' low around 5:30 AM, a 4.5' high around 11:00 AM, a 0.4' low around 5:30 PM, and a 5.1' high around midnight.

Water temps were running 56-58° in most of SD and OC yesterday, although San Clemente reported 60° late yesterday. LA was averaging 58°. VC and SB have been running 53-56°.

Swell-wise: Smallish surf is on tap until the weekend, but we will see a few swaths of NW and SW ground swells before bigger surf builds Saturday.

Today is an in-between day as we wait for swell from storm 2 of 3 from earlier reports. Late yesterday this low was visible from space as a swirling mass of spotty, broken up clouds indicative of strong wave-making winds behind this low's front (image from NOAA GOES):

That system though will stay off the coast (initially), so ground-swell, not wind-swell, will be the primary wave component Wednesday the 3rd, with west facing breaks running chest high on the better sets, with swell angled from around 290-300° and periods 14 seconds. But this system will come ashore tomorrow after a brief duck and weave out at sea.

After sending ground swell into SoCal, that low should swing into SoCal from the south, becoming part of an interesting pattern in the North Pacific that'll change weather, waves, and wind through the rest of the forecast (model by NOAA MAG):

The jetstream (green) should make a predominant path from the Aleutians to SoCal as high pressure (blue circle) sets up a blocking pattern in the Western Pacific — not the Gulf of Alaska like it did recently. Thus, not all hope is lost on swell development as there's still enough waterway in the Gulf for storms to pick up steam as they drive south to our area. In that model above I circled in red the low coming in Wednesday, which will bring precip from the south to some areas (see Weather section below for more). What's also interesting though is the second, bigger red circle around a hefty low that's poised to bring NW ground swell this weekend. This is storm 3 of 3 from earlier reports, which I'll get to in a sec. This pattern is expected to be in place for some time with no major high pressure over SoCal, nor in the Gulf of Alaska. This (a) puts the kibosh on offshore Santa Anas with a return to onshore flow, (b) increasing rain chances (some) while (c) increasing the chance for swell development in the Gulf and/or along the west coast of the U.S. This will affect the long range; but before then...

Friday the 5th should see light to moderate southern hemi from a storm that formed south of Pitcairn about a week ago. This should put south facing breaks into sets running waist to at times chest high, angled from 190° with periods 16 seconds. This swell should continue into the weekend of the 6th-7th, accompanied by a bigger complement of NW ground swell.

Saturday the 6th should see NW ground swell build from north to south as that big low circled in red on the model above (ID'd as storm 3 of 3 from earlier reports), crosses the Aleutians and dives southeast in the jetstream, thanks to the jetstream's new path across the Gulf of Alaska. It's been a long journey for this system, originating off southern Japan, crossing the Aleutians, and now getting its second wind as the jet guides it toward the west coast. Models have upgraded this from earlier runs (see earlier model here), with decently sized seas once crossing the Aleutians some time later today (model by NOAA MAG):

ETA is for swell to build from north to south Saturday the 6th, hitting SB early AM and SD by the afternoon. Size (when swell peaks) should run head high+ at west facing breaks with swell angled from 300° and periods 16 seconds. Swell should linger Sunday the 7th.

Monday the 8th could see our next NW swell build during the day, with swell peaking early AM Tuesday the 9th. Models are in semi-fair agreement on the next low diving south from the Gulf, keeping it once again mostly overwater, but with strength varying widely across the models today. This one will rely on proximity, falling in only a 2-day swell window for SoCal, so this is a bit too far out on the long range to call right now. It does look like it'd be at least a chest high NW ground swell for SoCal, although some models show it as a wind-swell-maker with bigger size. I'll know more in time for my next report...I'll keep you posted.

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

Wednesday the 3rd should run waist to chest high at west facing breaks.

Thursday the 4th looks about waist high everywhere.

Friday the 5th looks about waist high everywhere with occasional chest high pluses at standout south facing spots.

Saturday the 6th is expected to see NW ground swell build from north to south during the day, arriving in SB early AM and SD in the afternoon. West facing breaks should run head high+ when the NW swell arrives. South facing breaks should run waist to chest from earlier ground swell, bigger at times from NW wrap.

Sunday the 7th should run chest to head high at west facing breaks and waist to chest at south facing spots.

Monday the 8th, so far, is expected to start out at chest high at west facing breaks with swell building during the day.

Tuesday the 9th so far, looks about head high at west facing breaks.

Wednesday the 10th, so far, looks about chest high at west facing breaks.

Thursday the 11th, so far, looks about waist to chest at west facing breaks.

Weather Outlook
Weakening high pressure today should still keep skies mostly clear with max beach temps in the mid to upper 60s.

Wednesday sees a low swing into SoCal from the south, bringing rain mostly from LA south. Here's how the GFS model is calling it right now for precip totals (model by NOAA MAG):

Other models like the NAM show only OC and SD getting hit, not LA or VC. Other models like the CMC show light spatterings reaching as far north as SB, with rain still centered around OC and SD. Either way, OC and SD can expect a decent dowsing Wednesday (0.25" or more), and LA possibly 0.1-0.25". VC and SB are not likely to see much, if any rain from this. Rain is expected to arrive by early afternoon Wednesday. Wednesday looks cooler at about 60° max at the coast.

Thursday should be clear as the storm moves east. Air temps will likely remain cool in the high 50s to right around 60° max at the coast. Friday should warm a bit into the low 60s, and remain fairly clear and sunny.

Another low dives south toward SoCal Saturday, but most models keep rain across NorCal and CCal, with only a slight swipe of this front's tail-end bringing the slightest chances of precip to SoCal. I'd call for just a pronounced onshore flow with maybe AM drizzle Saturday — at best trace to 0.1" sometime during the day Saturday. Beach max temps will likely run in the upper 50s to right around 60° max Saturday.

Sunday should be clear and sunny as high pressure moves in, but remain cool at right around 60° tops. Monday the 8th would likely start out clear as well, but the next low being driven toward SoCal may increase NW winds Monday the 8th and bring rain by Tuesday the 9th. We're now venturing into long-range-land, so I'll hold off and see how models deal with this over the next couple days.

Wind Outlook
Winds at 6:00 AM were light and variable most everywhere. Afternoon onshores are expected to reach 8-12 mph. Wednesday may see light offshores in the very early AM, but southerly winds should pick up early, reaching 15 mph by noon. Thursday should see AM light and variables with afternoon onshores 8-12 mph. Friday will likely see AM light and variables with afternoon onshores to 15 mph. Saturday, so far, is expected to see onshores pick up early and reach at least 15 mph in the afternoon

 

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

—Nathan

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