More Sharks in the Future! Thanks El Niño 2017

30 04 2017

We may need to change the name of this site to “Trestles Shark Crowd” in the future.

Over the last few years, the number of shark sightings has increased at Trestles and other local surf spots.  Shark experts say the increase in sightings comes with increased numbers of sharks off the Southern California coast due to improvements in the local fishery.   The good news is that after decades of efforts, the Southern California fishery has improved, reflecting a general improvement in many, though not all, portions of the local ocean environment.   The bad news is that means surfers need to become even more aware of their surroundings while taking advantage of California’s many great surf spots.  And, from time to time, we are going to see beach closures like other sharky areas of the world.

In the evening on Saturday, April 29, 2017, a woman was bitten by a shark while swimming with fins in the shallows of Church, that classic surfing area at the mouth of San Onofre Creek in the San Onofre State Beach, at the northern edge of San Diego County.  You can read more details in this Orange County Register article.   This article references remarks by Dr. Christopher Lowe, a shark researcher at California State University Long Beach.  Not only has Dr. Lowe been quick to remark in the past about the improvement of Southern California fisheries, but in this article he described to the reporter how El Niño conditions a couple years ago extended the amount of time juvenile sharks have stayed in local waters to eat and grow.

Assuming Dr. Lowe is correct (and he is considered an expert for good reason), more shark sightings are likely just around the corner.  The National Weather Service prediction center of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted on April 13, 2017, that it is very likely an El Niño is going to form in Fall 2017.  As the water warms and reverses the effects of ocean currents, it will also be more likely that hammerhead sharks will show up at Southern California beaches, heading north from their usual foraging areas in warm Mexican waters.  And juvenile great white sharks will have less reason to head south to to those warmer waters after birth.  So, they will be hanging out even longer off our coast, increasing the number of shark sightings.

We are not predicting some sort of Sharknado, but we will likely hear more reports of shark sightings near our favorite surf areas.

So, tune into Trestles Shark, er Surf, Crowd.com for more info in the future.

[By the way, we can personally attest that only a small percentage of surf spot shark sightings are reported through the media.  Most surfers would say that sharks are just part of the ocean environment.  We enter their world every time we paddle out to catch a few.  So, why both reporting a natural occurrence.  Welcome to the Crowd Ms./Mr. Shark!]

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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!”

 





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.

090216 hurricanetrak 2

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.

 





September to Remember

4 09 2015

That’s what we are all hoping for.

Since June when we called it in our “June Gloom” post, the Summer of 2015 was not much to talk about.  A lot of low energy, small surf with a few single-day, mid-sized tropical swells.

The last week has been nothing but chaotic at Trestles. Multi-directional simultaneous fat swells, with heavy south wind most of the day, has at least made for some fun skateboard ramps.  The other day at Lowers there were three very distinct swells in the water.  Every wave was different from the last.  WNW, SSW, SSE.  We weren’t complaining because it was head high, but it was just odd.

Here is the overview from Surfline’s HurricaneTrak today.  Note the multiple tropical and extra-tropical swells in the northern Pacific, along with a lot of swell activity emanating from the southern Pacific.  We are supposed to get a fairly good run of swell over the next week, but it all looks a bit chaotic, to say the least.  Superimpose water in the high seventies (F) and it is just a bit odd.

Source: Surfline HurricaneTrak; September 3, 2015

Source: Surfline HurricaneTrak; September 3, 2015

One surfer said he surfed 56th Street in Newport on Monday.  One minute, the WNW waves were washing from north to south across the groin, the next minute the SSW dropped a bomb of a wall across the entire Echo Bay.  The WNW felt like a full-on winter swell, but nobody in the water had a wetsuit on.  Odd!

Everyone is talking about the “Godzilla El Nino” that is predicted by some forecasters.  Surfers are pulling out their “step ups” and watching the buoy’s.

Will it be a “Phantom El Nino” instead?

Maybe El Nino is already having its effect — chaos, warm water, and unpredictability.  Or, maybe that is just the climate change that some say doesn’t exist.

Regardless of whether (or weather) the big surf shows up, this is still likely to be a “September to Remember.”

Oh, and as always, some fun waves show up just in time for the pro’s as they fly in for the Hurley Pro at Lowers.  Unfortunately, it looks like it then flattens out when the competition window opens up from September 9 thru 20.  Hopefully, they can get in the water earlier as opposed to later.

Source: Surfline South Orange County Regional Forecast; September 3, 2015

Source: Surfline South Orange County Regional Forecast; September 3, 2015

With that said, the National Weather Service has predicted a busy tropical storm season for the northern Pacific.  So, maybe something significant will pop onto the radar in the next couple weeks.  Last year, Hurricane Marie created Big Wednesday on August 27, 2014.  This year, we are still on the K’s, with Tropical Storm Kevin sending some of the waves next week.  It’s not inconceivable for us to roll into the M’s by September 15 or so.  Could there be a Hurricane Maria waiting in the wings to provide some drone fodder on our So Cal shorelines for the contest?

Laird, how’s the Malibu Pier look from underneath at 20 knots?  Got some SUP’s to share with some pro friends?

Anyway, make sure you stop by the Hurley Lowers Pro and welcome all those world travelers to the Crowd.

Let’s make this a September to Remember.





Was Big Wednesday Really That Big?

19 09 2014

No doubt Hurricane Marie, along with some background south swell, brought Southern and Central California some powerful waves on Wednesday,  August 27, 2014.  Some Newport local friends of mine referred to it as “dangerous.”  But, based on a simple poll of long-time surfers, the waves were not the largest to hit our beaches in recent decades.

What made this swell event stand out to most was the power of the waves.  And, since there were multiple directions of swell in the water simultaneously, the waves at most south-swell spots were surging, washing, churning and shifting.  As a result, only a few classic hurricane swell focal points were able to pick up the swell with any clarity.  My poll leaves these as the main spots that were rideable.

  1. Lower Trestles
  2. Cotton’s Point
  3. Doheny
  4. Laguna Main Beach (Brooks Street to Rockpile)
  5. Scotchman’s Cove (and the cliff at El Moro)
  6. Newport Harbor Entrance
  7. The Wedge
  8. Newport Point (16th to 18th, but no “secondary peak”)
  9. Malibu
  10. Other unidentified points

Everything else was pretty much unmakeable.  A paddle out meant getting battered by non-stop sets. Even if you made it out, you didn’t get more than one or two waves and, even with a vigorous paddle, you got washed down the beach.

Our favorite spot, Uppers, was maxed out.  There were some rideable waves, but there were a lot that were not.  The surf was very disorganized and shifting all the way from the point to Five-O’s.  In fact, Five-O’s was closed out for the most part.  We have definitely surfed larger and better shaped waves at Uppers.

Newport Point was a standout, mostly because of the number of professional surfers that showed up on Wednesday.  Judging by the photos, it was firing.  We heard the statement we’ve heard in the past:  “The Point is like the Pipeline of Southern California.”  See Surfline’s Newport Point photo page.  Having grown up at the Point, I have to say again that it wasn’t the biggest or best I’ve seen, but it was definitely on.

What was interesting is the effect this surf event had on all of Southern California.  The national news was showing footage and all the social media was on fire with photos.  You could feel the energy in the air, even inland.  By the weekend, a lot of surfers were walking around with contentment on their faces and took a few days off reflecting on the after glow.

Funny things happened.  7-11 sold out of surfboard wax.  The surfboard shops emptied their racks of “step up” boards.  And, everyone  in the water seemed to have a new respect for one another–mostly because there were plenty of waves for everyone who was willing to stroke in.

Was Big Wednesday really that big?  It was big enough; enough to recalibrate our surf meters and prepare us for the rest of the busiest tropical storm season in northeastern Pacific in a couple decades.