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!]





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.





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.





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.





G-Man and G-Woman on a Date

31 07 2015

The date is July 31.  G-Man is Hurricane Guillermo (2015) and G-Woman is Hurricane Genevieve (2014).

Grasping at straws here.  But, did you notice that the “G-named” storms for both 2014 and 2015 are in almost identical positions in the Pacific on the same day of the year.  Could that mean we are in for a storm season similar to 2014?  Let’s see, what was the date of Hurricane Marie surf (Big Wednesday) in Southern California?

Check out this screen shot from HurricaneTrak (through surfline.com).

July 31 Hurricane Positions (Source:  HurricaneTrak, surfline.com)

July 31 Hurricane Positions (Source: HurricaneTrak, surfline.com)

Could we possibly get hurricane surf two years in a row?  It’s happened before in the 70’s.

Gotta’ go.  I need to order that step-up board I’ve been planning to buy for awhile.

See you on August 27, 2015 (Big Thursday).  If our favorite Uppers is maxed out, look for us at Newport Point, or at least Doheny.

Someone get Laird on the phone.

Update:  I just checked.  The A, B, and C storms of 2014 and 2015 were in similar areas of the Pacific as well.





Trestles Surf Forecast — June Gloom

12 06 2015

It’s here.  June Gloom — the annual mid-June surf shutdown.

The next week of surf.  Source:  www.surfline.com

The next week of surf. Source: http://www.surfline.com

As soon as school lets out and we get ready for summer, the surf goes flat; sometimes for several weeks.  Don’t be surprised if the water temp dips for a few days too.

Then, just as we drag out the longboards, dig up our 4/3 wetsuits, and bundle up in double sweatshirts to fend off the “coastal clouds,” the surf starts to boom again.  Hopefully, by mid-July, the south swells will start thundering in.

The question is “can we fight off the depression until the waves arrive?”

It’s a good time to catch up on that work project, prune the garden, and buy that new board, preparing for the (almost) inevitable chain of summer swells that will keep us happy until late November.  Hopefully!





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.