Monday, November 25, 2013

Big surf on Friday...and maybe rain.

Happy holiday all!  Some tiny surf going on around town but that’s all going to change in the near future (figures cause I’m heading out of town until Saturday).  Surf for Tuesday and Wednesday is looking quite small still with knee high waves at best.  Thursday things start to change with some sizable surf building as low pressure system heading into town.  The day starts small with knee high waves.  Size picks up through the day with waist WNW high waves by the evening and some chest high sets.  Then things get interesting on Friday.  By the time everyone wakes up from their turkey slumber on Friday morning the foul weather will have set in but the surf will have picked up to shoulder/head high with some bigger sets.  Size jumps up through the day with size maxing out midday in the OH+ range.  I would imagine some folks might be a little excited by this…eh?  There will be a fair amount of west in this swell so expect some lined up waves and closeouts at the west facing beaches.  Size backs off for the second half of the day after it peaks with size in the HH+ range by nightfall. 

Saturday morning looks like some chest/HH surf quickly diminishing in size to waist/chest high by the afternoon.  Size will back down to thigh high for Sunday as another but smaller NW groundswell move in for the start of the work week.  Surf in the waist high range for Monday with size peaking late and backing off for Tuesday.  After that little teaser it looks like things will get quiet again as the Northern Hemi doesn’t show any signs of good swell makers. There is some activity in the Southern Hemi but we’ll have to see how that pans out in the next week.

Weather could be the spoiler this week as there’s a chance of showers Thanksgiving Day and into Friday.  It’s still 50/50 so hopefully it’ll just be a bit of SSE winds and clouds.  Tuesday should be nice for those who are traveling and mostly sunny Wed. Clouds move in Wed night and chances of showers Thurs-Fri.  Sunshine showing up again for Sat, Sun and Mon (air in the high 60s) before we see the next low pressure system roll in for Tuesday.  Then another chance of showers and more moderate S winds.  Water temps are still holding in the mid/low 60s.  Tides are starting to get a bit more extreme as we head towards the New Moon.  High tide in the wee hours of the morning back off slightly to a medium low mid-morning and then up to a medium high in the late afternoon.  As we head to the end of the week look for super high tides early morning and negative tides midday/early afternoon.  Water quality should be ok by now after all that rain.  Heads up if it rains again over the holiday.

Looks like some juicy swell heading our way with a chance of some S winds and a bit of drizzle to accompany it.  At this point…we’ll take anything!

Stay wet San Diego!

P.S.  Be back in town Sunday. See you online then!

 Not much surf but gorgeous sunsets!
(click for larger version)

Tides for La Jolla (Scripps Institution Wharf) starting with November 26, 2013.
Day        High      Tide  Height   Sunrise    Moon  Time      % Moon
           /Low      Time    Feet    Sunset                    Visible

Tu  26     High   4:14 AM     4.2   6:30 AM     Set 12:34 PM      49
    26      Low  10:22 AM     2.3   4:43 PM
    26     High   3:43 PM     3.4
    26      Low   9:53 PM     1.3

W   27     High   4:49 AM     4.6   6:31 AM    Rise 12:54 AM      40
    27      Low  11:17 AM     1.6   4:43 PM     Set  1:07 PM
    27     High   4:56 PM     3.5
    27      Low  10:39 PM     1.4

Th  28     High   5:23 AM     5.1   6:31 AM    Rise  1:52 AM      30
    28      Low  12:02 PM     1.0   4:43 PM     Set  1:43 PM
    28     High   5:57 PM     3.7
    28      Low  11:22 PM     1.5

F   29     High   5:56 AM     5.6   6:32 AM    Rise  2:53 AM      21
    29      Low  12:43 PM     0.2   4:43 PM     Set  2:21 PM
    29     High   6:49 PM     3.9

Sa  30      Low  12:03 AM     1.5   6:33 AM    Rise  3:56 AM      13
    30     High   6:32 AM     6.1   4:43 PM     Set  3:04 PM
    30      Low   1:23 PM    -0.5
    30     High   7:37 PM     4.0

Thursday, November 21, 2013

To Surf or Not to Surf?

To Surf or Not to Surf?
Surfing (or paddling) After a Storm 

With the winter rainy season upon us the question arises as to whether or not one should surf during and after a rain event.  Local authorities suggest waiting at least 48-72 hours after the rain stops before hopping into your favorite surf break to avoid contact with unhealthy levels of bacteria and other gunk that has washed into the ocean.  The question also arises as to WHY they recommend that and does that apply to each surf break in the same way?  Here is some information to help you make an educated decision the next time you’re thinking about paddling out into a post-rain surf session.  The information has been simplified so as not to bore you with scientific jargon but will give you enough information to make an informed decision.

First a little background
Most states test storm water for the presence of fecal-indicating bacteria if the water runs into a body of water where human contact will be an issue.  Different states have different requirements for levels of bacteria.  You can check with your state’s health department for specific criteria.  They may also test for other chemicals such as metals, oils and grease, nutrients, and sediment.  At increased concentrations these are detrimental to water quality and human health.

What are “fecal indicating bacteria” and why are they important to me?
Fecal indicating bacteria are bacteria that come from the intestines of humans or other warm-blooded animals.  Outside of the intestines they can cause illness or act as an indicator of other harmful pathogens that cause illnesses.  There are three categories of fecal indicating bacteria: total coliform, fecal coliform and enterococcus.  “Total coliform” is the general category for bacteria.  Alone these don’t tell us much but when measured with “fecal coliforms”, harmful bacteria that indicate human or animal waste, scientists can tell if the levels of bacteria are of the harmful variety.  Enterococci live in the human intestine and are a direct indicator of human waste contamination, not just general animal waste.

Knowing the type of contamination helps authorities determine the origin of the contamination.  If total and fecal coliform levels are high but enterococci are low then chances are the contamination is coming from a non-human source (pet waste, agricultural run off waste, or other warm blooded animals such as seals or birds).  More in-depth (but expensive) studies can be run using genetics to determine exactly what kind of organism is creating the waste.

But…you want to know…where and when do I surf!
The sources of contamination are numerous.  Lagoons can harbor bacteria from agricultural waste, wild animals that live around the lagoon and storm water runoff.  If a lagoon mouth is open and water is flowing onto the beach and into the ocean then contaminated water may be flowing right into the lineup.  Most storm drains flow directly into the ocean so anything laying on the streets and sidewalks may be washed out onto the beach and into the water without any filtering.  This not only includes bacteria from animal waste but also oil dripping from vehicles, anti-freeze, copper discharged every time you hit your brakes, rust, particulate matter washed off of homes and cars by the rain, and trash. Some cities connect their storm drains to sewage plants but this is very costly and not the norm. 

To determine if you should paddle out after a rain event think about several things before plunging in head first.

1)  How much did it rain?  If there was water running down the street and along the gutters during the storm then there was probably enough rain to wash all that waste I mentioned earlier into the storm drains and lagoons.  If rainwater’s still running into the drains when you plan on paddling out then there’s still waste being added to the ocean water.  YUCK!  And if there’s been enough rain to see a slick of discolored water at your surf break, think TWICE before paddling out.

2)  Is there a storm drain or lagoon mouth running directly into my surf break?   Again, these are direct sources of storm water runoff and possibly contaminated water.  The further you can get from these direct sources the better.

3)  Is there a lot of surf?   With bigger waves and more swell comes more mixing.  The more mixing that goes on the faster the storm water runoff will dissipate and become diluted with the cleaner ocean water.  If there isn’t much swell the runoff water will stick around longer.

4)  When did it rain last?  The first big rain after a period without rain is called “The First Flush”.  More waste accumulates with longer periods without rain.  The “first flush” washes the accumulated waste in one BIG FLUSH out into the ocean.  The period after the first flush is usually the most contaminated so you should give the ocean an extra day before paddling out. 

5)  Is this beach prone to poor water quality?  Some beaches are known for their poor water quality particularly after rain events.  These beaches may have large influxes of storm water runoff from large or many storm drains.  Also, keep an eye out for posted signage warning beachgoers of contaminated water.  There is a hotline (619-338-2073) to call to find out if there are any beach closures from sewage spills or check:  This site gets information from the County and also updates in onto their app The Swim Guide ( ).

6)   Use your nose!  If the water has an unusually strong and unpleasant odor it’s probably due to some contamination that you don’t want to be surfing in. 

Bottom line
Unfortunately, there are no black and white answers to when and where to surf after a rain event.  The trick is to make educated decisions based on all the information located right under your nose.  When you are traveling to foreign countries it’s very important to keep these things in mind because you don’t want to spend your surf trip with the stomach flu or ear ache just because you paddled out in the wrong spot and at the wrong time.  It’s worth waiting a day if it’ll keep you healthy for the rest of your trip!  And don’t forget, it doesn’t hurt to take an extra long how shower afterwards either!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tiny with rain but clean

Hola!  Well the outlook doesn’t look too promising for much surf right now.  For most of the week it’s going to be thigh to waist high windswell out of the WNW.  Tuesday will be knee high and clean.  Then there’s a hiccup of WNW swell on Wed with some waist high surf.  Then Wed night and through Thurs we’re supposed to see some showers but we’re not even going to see much windswell action from that system…in fact the models suggest light offshores.  WEIRD!  Friday looks like more of the same WNW thigh/waist high surf with size dropping off a little before some small SW…yes, SW swell shows up Sunday. Very little chance in wave height though…some waist high surf for the summer beaches…did I mention this is weird….and similar size for Monday. Not much activity going on in either hemisphere to produce any surf.  A small disturbance across the Pacific might throw some W groundswell our way but it’s a ways away so we’ll have to get back to that in a few days to see if it develops into anything ridable.

Weather looks to turn wet but not too windy.  Chances of drizzle Tues and Wed with highest chance of showers for Wed night and thru Thursday night.  Chances of light showers for Fri and into the weekend.  Air temps in the mid to upper 60s.   Cloud cover will keep things in the mid-50s at night.  Light winds out of the E at night and turning W or SW during the days so not a particularly nasty storm at all.  Water temps are in the low to mid 60s.  We’re coming off the Full Moon so still some pretty full mid-AM tides draining all day to a negative low at sunset. 

Not a lot of surf going on in So Cal right now.  Lemme know if you want to borrow my SUP!  It’s a great workout!

Stay wet San Diego!

Tides for La Jolla (Scripps Institution Wharf) starting with November 19, 2013.
Day        High      Tide  Height   Sunrise    Moon  Time      % Moon
           /Low      Time    Feet    Sunset                    Visible
Tu  19      Low   2:57 AM     2.1   6:23 AM     Set  8:05 AM      98
    19     High   9:11 AM     5.8   4:46 PM    Rise  6:41 PM
    19      Low   4:15 PM    -0.3
    19     High  10:49 PM     3.7
W   20      Low   3:29 AM     2.4   6:24 AM     Set  8:52 AM      95
    20     High   9:43 AM     5.5   4:45 PM    Rise  7:32 PM
    20      Low   4:53 PM    -0.1
    20     High  11:35 PM     3.6
Th  21      Low   4:04 AM     2.6   6:25 AM     Set  9:36 AM      90
    21     High  10:16 AM     5.2   4:45 PM    Rise  8:24 PM
    21      Low   5:34 PM     0.2
F   22     High  12:28 AM     3.5   6:26 AM     Set 10:16 AM      84
    22      Low   4:47 AM     2.8   4:44 PM    Rise  9:16 PM
    22     High  10:53 AM     4.8
    22      Low   6:20 PM     0.5
Sa  23     High   1:29 AM     3.5   6:27 AM     Set 10:52 AM      76
    23      Low   5:50 AM     3.1   4:44 PM    Rise 10:09 PM
    23     High  11:39 AM     4.3
    23      Low   7:11 PM     0.8

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bigger messy windswell on it's way

Never a dull moment when Mother Nature is involved!  We’re seeing a big swing in weather right now as our 80+ degree sunny weather makes way for thick fog, cool air temps and windy onshores.  Throw a BIG N swell passing us by in the mix and we’ve got an interesting few days of surf coming up.  Friday will see and increasing WNW wind swell with waist high surf and barely hint of that N/NW swell that just lit up the Hawaiian Islands.  Wind and windswell will fill in through the day with chest/shoulder high expected as night falls or maybe a hair sooner.  Saturday starts the day with chest/shoulder high surf and probably some stand out HH sets at the best spots but all I’m pretty sure south winds are going to make mince meat out of the short period swell.  Swell on Sunday in the waist/chest high range that will be backing down further throughout the day.  By Monday and for the rest of the week surf is looking pretty scare and in the thigh high range.  Tuesday looks thigh high and Wed we might see a little hiccup of swell…butt/waist high at best.  Not much in terms of swell makers on the horizon.  Could be a quiet winter if this keeps up.

So weather is going to act up.  Say adios to sunshine and heat and helloooooooo clouds and wind.  Tonight we’re already seeing some thick fog in spots around town.  Chances of drizzle tonight and light showers Friday through Sat night.  South winds will pick up tonight becoming pretty gusty and messing up the surf by mid-morning.  Southwest winds hold on through Saturday night which means messy surf throughout the county.  Things clean up a little Sunday and much cleaner by Monday. Air temps really dropping tomorrow…mid-60s and then low 60s by Saturday.  Nighttime temps will really drop too with low 50s starting Sat and carrying through all of next week even though daytime temps will make it back up into the mid-60s.  We’re looking at pretty full high tides in the morning and drained out low tides in the mid-afternoon before pushing back up to a medium high.  Full Moon on Monday and clouds should clear by then.

Looks like Friday morning will be the cleanest ticket for the next few days.  Swell on the rise but high tide will definitely be an issue.

Stay wet San Diego!

Tides for La Jolla (Scripps Institution Wharf) starting with November 15, 2013. 
Day        High      Tide  Height   Sunrise    Moon  Time      % Moon
           /Low      Time    Feet    Sunset                    Visible
F   15      Low  12:46 AM     1.2   6:20 AM     Set  4:26 AM      92
    15     High   7:07 AM     6.1   4:48 PM    Rise  3:43 PM
    15      Low   1:53 PM    -0.4
    15     High   8:08 PM     4.2
Sa  16      Low   1:21 AM     1.5   6:21 AM     Set  5:24 AM      96
    16     High   7:39 AM     6.2   4:47 PM    Rise  4:23 PM
    16      Low   2:29 PM    -0.6
    16     High   8:49 PM     4.1
Su  17      Low   1:54 AM     1.6   6:22 AM     Set  6:20 AM      99
    17     High   8:10 AM     6.2   4:47 PM    Rise  5:07 PM
    17      Low   3:04 PM    -0.6
    17     High   9:28 PM     4.0
M   18      Low   2:25 AM     1.9   6:23 AM     Set  7:14 AM      99
    18     High   8:41 AM     6.0   4:46 PM    Rise  5:53 PM
    18      Low   3:39 PM    -0.5
    18     High  10:08 PM     3.9
Tu  19      Low   2:57 AM     2.1   6:23 AM     Set  8:05 AM      98
    19     High   9:11 AM     5.8   4:46 PM    Rise  6:41 PM
    19      Low   4:15 PM    -0.3
    19     High  10:49 PM     3.7