More Rain for San Mateo Creek, and Trestles

17 02 2017

At 3:00 pm today, the City of San Clemente surf report from the pier reported sustained winds of 45 from the southeast.  That’s enough to grow waves locally.  Below is a screenshot from Surfline.com’s T-Street webcam; and it is only beginning to build.

The weather reports were predicting rain that would be the heaviest in the last 10 to 20 years (kind of a typical weather forecaster’s vague speak).  At any rate, below is a screenshot from Weather Underground showing the radar imagery for what is headed this way.

Lots of rain headed toward the headwaters of San Mateo Creek, our favorite Southern California pristine watershed that flows out to the Pacific at Uppers.  The bottom has already changed this season, with more to come.  It should set up some great waves by the time the summer south swells show up later this year.

In the meantime, maybe California is finally limping out of its long drought.

The El Nino winter last year fizzled out with no real rain, even though all the experts predicted heavy precipitation.  It may be that if you look at the last several El Nino events, the heavy rain doesn’t actually show up until the first rainy season after the sea surface temperatures return to an ENSO-neutral condition.

Regardless, it’s great to see the San Mateo flowing with life again.  Rain, rain, don’t go away.





Angry Mud

24 01 2017

In Southern California, our rivers (a euphemism) and streams don’t really flow all that often without a boost from urban runoff (from overwatering and all sorts of wasted water with all sorts of contaminants).  But, when it rains hard and long, the soil sponge lets loose and surges all the way to the ocean from miles inland.  The result is muddy surf from Baja California to Santa Cruz.  Add a good swell and strong wind, what do you have?  Angry Mud.

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Looking northwest from San Onofre Bluffs State Beach.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the angry mud from The Point all the way to Upper Trestles.  In fact, if you zoom in, you can see a kite surfer risking his life (or at least an upset stomach) to catch some waves and some air. Today, January 23, 2017, the mud plume extends at least a mile out into the ocean.  It will take awhile for all that sediment from the local watersheds to settle down. But, at least it replenishes some of the sand lost over recent years from local beaches.

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Looking southeast from 350 feet above Doheny Beach, toward San Onofre in the distance. Notice the mud plume from San Juan Creek.

The photo above shows a view toward San Onofre from Doheny Beach, just outside of the Dana Point Harbor jetty.

Surfing in South Orange County today, or in the next few days, brings a whole new meaning to the saying “Here’s (angry) mud in your eye!”

 





San Mateo Creek Flows Again!

14 01 2017
Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon.  Note the breach to the right.

Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon. Note the breach to the right.

It’s been a few years, but the San Mateo Creek watershed “sponge” finally got full and started to overflow.  That is, all the soils upstream got full of water and started to seep/flow into the gullies that make up the watershed.  And, down to the creek bed and out to the ocean.

The last time it really flowed significantly was in December 2010; and flow it did, for almost six months.  It will be interesting to see how long it continues to flow with the off and on storms predicted over the next week or more.

The Trestles and the watershed.

The Trestles and the watershed.

Could the Southern California drought finally have broken?  Too early to tell, but it’s off to a good start.

Word is the creek broke out of the estuary/lagoon through the sand berm and out onto the reef at Uppers this morning.  You can see by the mud plumes in the ocean that it has been flowing for several hours at the time of these photos about 4:00 p;m today.

As happens with natural water courses, each time it breaks out, the flow “braids” to a new path.  We all got used to the “lagoon” that was dug out by the 2010 storms.  This time, the flow shoots straight out, dumping a lot of sand, and probably some cobbles, on top of the reef just north of what we call “Garcia-land,”  which is the north shoulder of the point. Wonder what new shape the bottom will take now.  Maybe a lagoon on each side of the point?  Maybe a  “north bay” and a “south bay?”

From over Garcia-land.  Notice the muddy surfline water.

From over Garcia-land. Notice the muddy surfline water.

Enjoy the photos.  A video may show up over the next few days.

Liquid gold.

Liquid gold.

Filling the reef with sand.

Filling the reef with sand.





New WSL Format — the Scrum

14 09 2016

In what can only be seen as a wink and nod to its fiercest critics, the World Surfer League (WSL) has adopted a new contest format for its cadre of professional wave riders.  It’s called the “scrum” format.

For years critics, who are also, oddly enough, usually also fans of professional surf contests, have complained (or whined) of organized events that only test participants in a rarefied environment.  Two to three contestants surf against each other in perfect waves (sometimes) while the beach is completely closed to any other surfers.  The critics wonder how well these contestants would fare if they had to surf in crowded, competitive conditions “like the rest of us.”

So, here is how the scrum works.

At 4:30 am, all 34 pro contestants simultaneously receive a text message on their phones telling them the scrum is on, along with the wind and buoy reports.  They must then race to the Cristianitos parking lot, drop their bikes, and ride like crazy down the trail to the beach.  Those who happen to live closeby can ride their bikes directly to the beach.  But, no headlights allowed for anyone.

There is only a single 3-hour heat, all in.  Last man (this is the men’s contest) standing wins.  They can bring their best game faces, but the rules are the local rules.  No such thing as priority.  You’ve gotta earn it through tactics learned through years of experience.  Mad-dogging, blocking, shoulder hopping, back paddling, rail bumping; it’s all legal, if you can get away with it.

Some of the new contestants will try to work  their way to the peak by giving a few set waves to the veterans, hoping for some scraps or nuggets.  They may even try chatting it up with the vets, but there is not much hope for the nice guy approach in the scrum.

In some cases, disputes over priority may have to be settled on the beach by individuals or “teams.”

Longboards are allowed, but are generally discouraged.

That is the scrum.  Sound familiar?  Here is a photo, courtesy of the Surfline Lower Trestles live stream. Scrum in progress.  Anybody keeping score?

scrum

We hope you enjoyed this fictional story about a zany idea that has no basis in fact or any relationship to any real surf industry persons or organizations.





Tropical Cyclones – Then and Now

3 09 2016

History does repeat itself.

Even though 2015 was in El Nino mode and 2016 is in La Nina mode, there seems to be an eery similarity in the tropic cyclone pattern in the northeastern Pacific.  Late August/early September 2016  is looking a lot like the same period in 2015.  Check out this map of just a couple storms being tracked by Surfline’s HurricaneTrak.

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What isn’t shown is the disturbance west of Acapulco that may just be enough to jack up the waves for the 2016 Hurley Pro at Trestles and Swatch Women’s Pro.  Here is the National Weather Service advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

090216 nws hurricanes

Could be some fun contests in 2016, much like the contests in 2015.





Hurley Pro — The Wave Magnet

3 09 2016

It never fails.  When the Hurley Pro shows up at Lowers, so do the waves.  Last year, Mick Fanning walked away with the win.  The waves weren’t perfect, but there were waves.  In fact, they were some of the best waves of the summer.

Here is the link to the Surfline forecast for the contest as it appeared on the WSL website last year (2015).

Lully, but Fun, SW Swell Fri for the Hurley Pro / Swatch Women’s Pro

This year, the 2016 summer can only be called the “forgettable summer” of waves.  But, as it turns out, the waves seem to be on the way for the 2016 Hurley Pro at Trestles and the Swatch Women’s Pro, with a waiting period of September 7 through 18, 2016.  Of course!

Lowers is expected to be a magnet for fun size waves during the first few days of the waiting period.  A sizeable storm in the South Pacific is generating a groundswell while some late cyclones are potentially forming off Mexico.

So, get your cameras ready to shoot and collect your favorite keepsake poster for signatures by the pro’s.  It’s gonna be another fun celebrity party at Lowers over the next couple weeks as the pro’s roll into town.

And, there will be waves.  There always are. Because, like the pro’s, the Hurley Pro has a magnetic personality.

 





A Tale of Two Breaks

25 02 2016

This is a strange swell.  Two different breaks; two different swells.

Here is a screenshot of the Surfline report for Sandspit, in Santa Barbara, California yesterday afternoon as the new swell worked its way down from north to south along the coast.  Looks kinda fun, right?  Typical winter swell, right?

sandspit

It was amusing to watch it in live action.  The dense crowd looked like a flock of ducks fighting the current in a river.  They would all paddle with their noses in the same direction, even though the current was much stronger and faster than they could hope to paddle against.  They would all paddle toward the jetty.  Then the backwash would suck them all out and to the left.  Like the ducks, no real chance to paddle into the ideal position.  Just turn and go.  If you got in the right spot, you were assured of a fun little barrel.  If not, you either became one with the backwash, flying into the air, or you were dropped into the sand with the surfer next to you scrambling to get out of the way.  The swell direction seemed pretty good for Sandspit.

Looking for good waves along the coast to the south, they were few and far between. They either had size and lousy shape or they were too small to be fun.  Something was just a little strange about the swell’s behavior.

Then, this morning it happened.

Our favorite spot lit up!

trestles report

Strangely enough, the strong typhoon-driven swell from the W/WNW that closed the North Shore (Hawaii) beaches manifested itself as more of a southwest swell.  As with most west swells, just a couple degrees of direction can dramatically change where the waves will be good and where they won’t even show up.  I guess it mixed in with a little bit of pure south swell.  As a result, Surfline is calling Trestles “Good” today, a designation seldom used in this area.

Most of us usually don’t like a “Good” designation because it tends to draw a bigger crowd to deal with, but it sure is fun to see our favorite spot start the summer season a little early. So, come on down and join The Crowd.