South Swell Department Opens
A late season Santa Ana condition has sent temperatures skyrocketing up to 20 degrees above normal
here in Laguna. What a picture perfect day. It’s a cooker, 88 degrees at water’s edge with Catalina in full view. Spending the entire day here at the beach, wondering what the poor people are doing! We’re approaching 14 hours of sun time with today’s sunrise at 5:59 a.m. and sunset at 7:40 p.m. The water temp. has dropped back down to 57 degrees due to the stiff westerly breezes last Sunday.
Notable Southern Hemisphere swells continued: July 24, 1996, a huge low pressure system about 1,000 miles south of Tahiti lights up breaks from Central America all the way up to Alaska. The intense storm covered a million square miles of ocean, creating the giant fetch that affected both hemispheres. Locally it was classic “Big Wednesday” with sets up to 15 ft. at Brooks Street’s second and third reef and Rockpile”s outer fourth reef Indicator. The conditions were perfect all day with clear sunny skies with a midday air temp. of 86 degrees and a water temp. of 73 degrees with not a breath of wind from sun up to sun down. Trestles had solid 12 to 15 foot sets with waves breaking way out in the ocean. Newport’s Wedge had faces up to 25 ft. Even Doheny had solid 8 to 10 foot sets!
April 11 and 12, 2007, El Moro point on Laguna’s northern outskirts resembles Uluwatu with solid 12 ft. sets. El Moro only comes to life like that only once every 10-15 years. Southeast winds on the 11th were blowing most spots out except for El Moro, thanks to the tall bluffs at the south end at Elevator Cove and even blowing sideshore offshore at the takeoff zone.
July 23-25, 2009, rounds out McWeather’s top five list of the biggest Southern Hemis. We had the Brooks Street Surf Classic in probably the heaviest waves in memory for the event, which started way back in 1954. It was almost out of control as many of the groms chose against paddling out. Every set, even the in between smaller sets were all about second and third reef. With most riders focused on the contest, giant Rockpile was ridden by just a handful of players.
Next week we’ll turn our attention to the Mexican tropics, our other major source of summer swells as the Eastern Pacific hurricane season officially begins on May 15 and runs through Nov. 15. See you next time. Aloha!
Dennis McTighe served as a meteorologist at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii from 1969 to 1972, and was an NOAA forecaster and earned a degree in Earth Sciences from UC San Diego and has been keeping daily weather records since 1958.