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.

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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.





Where Did Everybody Go?

16 05 2015

Today was one of those days.  Eery, but I’m not complaining.

When I pulled up to the parking lot awhile after dawn, it was raining and cold for the middle of May.  There were very few cars , and even fewer people, in the parking lot.  I turned off the radio and was debating as to whether to just doze off for awhile, wrapped in a beach towel, or sneak between rain drops down to the beach.  But, I resisted the urge to snooze.

Somehow, I convinced myself to pull on my wetsuit while crammed in the driver’s seat of my Honda Civic to avoid the rain.  It took a few minutes of contortions, but I did it.  I hesitantly opened the door and crawled over to the trunk to unfurl my portable folding bike.  Everything got soaked.  The second thoughts were pouring in, but I got it all snapped into place and inserted the seat post, which has my board rack permanently attached.  Then, I had to work my way over to the passenger seat and get my board out of its bag without letting the sky flush into the car.

When I got done with this little exercise, I looked up to see a couple other surfers who had done the same thing.  We traded comments about how silly all the other regulars were for not “braving the elements” this morning.  But we also acknowledged the irony of our own petty thoughts of having to get wet to go surfing.  Hmmm.

What I am getting to is the fact that despite the classic overhead waves and offshore wind, almost nobody from the Crowd showed up this morning.  There were only five people in the water for about an hour after daybreak.  By the time I pedaled down the trail, there were still only ten.  There were so many great waves it was like our own private surf resort.  Very unusual.  But, it wasn’t just the rain.

Yesterday, predicted to be the best day of the swell, it blew out severely by 7:00 am.  And, Surfline predicted even worse conditions today.  Fortunately, the low pressure system that dumped rain on us suddenly swung south of Trestles instead of north.  So, instead of heavy onshore winds, we got light offshore winds for most of the day.  It caught most of the Crowd by surprise.  Very unusual.

I don’t even have any photos to show what it was like because it was too rainy for cameras and everyone would rather be bagging barrels instead of shooting photos.  So, you’ll just have to take our word for it.

Pure luck.  It doesn’t happen often, but this time it was in my favor.  Keep your eye on those wind models this time of year.  Your turn can be next.