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April 2016

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The Surf & Weather Forecast for

Southern California

April 25, 2016



Steep angled NW windswell and locally generated W windswell leftover from Monday will ease with some improvements to conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Another low is expected to bring more windswell late Wednesday/Thursday.  There’s a small trickle of southern hemi in the water  through the work week as well.  Better sized southern hemi arrives Saturday and will bring moderate sized surf to standouts through the weekend.  Read more for details. 

Get the live buoy forecast graph here –

There should still be a healthy amount of leftover windswell in the water Tuesday as conditions improve somewhat at least in the morning.  Monday saw a pretty good increase in windswell with breezy onshores  Wave heights should linger in the waist to head high+ range in the morning with cleaner conditions for most areas with a little bit more offshore flow early on.  It wont be great though, with the short-period energy still being a bit wonky and unorganized, but surface conditions will be a little better at least.

The winds shift back onshore Tuesday afternoon adding more texture and bump to the surface though.  Wednesday morning looks similar conditionwise as the swell continues to fade into the knee to chest high range along the exposed W-NW facing coast.  A little bit of background southern hemi energy will help keep a few playful surfable waves at summer spots early on as well.  Looks like we’re in for more weather/wind later in the day though…

The models are a little out of sync on timing, but we’re expecting another low to work its way down the Central California coast late Tuesday/Wednesday.  It looks like it will bring some moisture with it and we could be seeing some showers Wednesday night up in Santa Barbara.  Winds are supposed to pick up Wednesday afternoon over the coastal waters as well.  Some estimates are for 20-30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph for a few wind prone areas.

The breezy onshores might let up briefly early Thursday, but are supposed to pick up again through the day.  This is going to drive another  mix of WNW-NW (290-330) swell/windswell that will peak Thursday.  As of right now we’re looking at wave heights increasing again Wednesday afternoon/evening.  It wont likely be as big as Monday was, but could still bring some waist to head high surf during the peak. The exposed coast will be pretty messy again with wind blown chop and unorganized surf, but a few sheltered areas, and places where the NW winds are blowing offshore (south facing coast of Santa Barbara) are likely to see cleaner surf and potentially fun conditions.  The surf and winds will ease Friday.

Over the weekend there are some mixed solutions.  Some models are showing the NW winds along the coast continuing to produce solid head high to well overhead windswell/swell mix along the exposed coast.  The synoptic patterns are showing high pressure building into the Great Basin, and that would lead to a more offshore pattern, with a thermal trough developing along the coast.  If that is the case we can expect warm dry conditions with light/offshore winds and easing surf Saturday and Sunday along the W-NW exposed coast.

Despite the possibility of easing surf out of the WNW-NW Saturday and Sunday there will still be swell to look forward to.  An 18 to 20-second S (180-190) swell is due to arrive early Saturday, and will build to a 2-3 foot+ peak on Sunday.  This swell is from a solid system that developed south of the Pitcairn Islands over the weekend, climbing north with a good trajectory to bring California some consistent and fairly good sized surf.  The peak of the swell is likely to offer up waist to head high+ surf along the southerly exposed coast, with standouts seeing set waves going head high-a couple feet overhead for a few locations.  With improving conditions this could be a really fun weekend of surf.  In addition, another low moving along the Aleutians mid to late this week is going to send a small pulse of medium-long period swell that will arrive Monday.  It’s looking pretty minimal at the moment but could swing in a few combo sets at magnets.

Tropical Overview

Tropical season officially over.


North Pacific Swell Forecast

Looking further out things are going to be a bit quieter through the start of next week.  The swell that shows up Monday along the Central California coast will bring some playful/fun surf through the first half of the week, especially with the warm weather and likely offshore winds we’re expecting.  Socal is probably going to struggle to see much energy from that swell though, due to the high latitude track the storm takes along the Aleutians this week.

Beyond that the models slowly begin to wind down in preparation for the summer.  The only system that is showing up on the long-range right now is a weaker low moving off the Kamchatka Peninsula over the weekend/early next week.  I’ll keep an eye on it, but as of right now not expecting much in the way of a swell maker.

South Pacific Swell Forecast

This weekend’s swell is expected to linger with some fun surf through the first half of next week, especially in Socal, where most of the storms energy was focused.  Recent models though have shown more activity near New Zealand over the weekend that could send some SW (210-220) swell to Central California for mid-next week.

That part of the swell window isn’t very ideal for Socal.  French Polynesia and Tahiti’s island shadow will cut down on much of the swell, and considering its not a very impressive system to begin with, what does show up will likely only be smaller/moderate in size and mostly masked by the leftovers of the S swell.

Beyond that the South Pacific takes a few days to reload, but it looks like this next one could be a misfire.  The charts are showing a fairly broad (although weaker) storm developing southeast of New Zealand later in the week.  it gets a good NE trajectory, but focuses all of its energy on Tahiti, which is going to act as a shield, blocking most of the swell from reaching California.  It’s still pretty far out though, and there’s time for the jet stream to adjust itself enough to shift the system more east where it would have a better chance of sending another fun pulse of SSW (200-210) to California around the 8th of May.  Stay tuned.

The next long-range forecast will be posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

Austin Gendron
Surf Forecaster

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