Friday, March 4, 2016

Baja Surfing Trip in Your Plans for 2016?

Reason 1: Sí to Baja
Your New Year's resolution was to say "yes" to everything. Your life has become a romantic comedy of sorts, but since it's still El Niño, being agreeable means you're going to Baja. Post-surf tacos washed down with some adult suds are all a part of the ideal. Factor in that Baja California has over 1900 miles of coastline, more than half of which is surfable, running the gamut from pre-expansion big-wave spots to roping pointbreaks and peaky beachbreak tubes -- and the roast grows ever sweeter.

Reason 2: El Niño 
This year's very strong El Niño taught us a number of things, along with reinforcing some preconceived, rudimentary notions like, "No two El Niño's are the same." For instance, while Southern California received minimal precipitation through the month of February, a rather un-El Niño-like feat, the North Pacific was on fire with a smattering of hurricane-force low pressure systems and XXL swells -- the latter being the earmark of strong El Niño's past. Eddie went. Thursday before the Super Bowl at Maverick's was far more impressive than both offenses in the game of pigskin. And quite possibly the deepest barrel ever paddled into at Jaws -- that happened, too. It was pumping all over. But while no two are the same, all El Niño's often have some similar qualities. A glimpse at March's moderate to strong El Nino events of yesteryear suggest both the North and South Pacific have some tricks up their sleeves.

Reason 3: Nooks and crannies
They like swell and can handle wind. There will be a series of solid WNW swells for Baja Norte through the middle of the month, which is good for the nooks-and-crannies business. However, the reputable global weather models suggest we'll have a few bouts of potentially unfavorable winds for the regions that are more openly exposed, as a series of lows impact the northern reaches of Baja through the second week of the month. While some of the S/SW/W wind may be unavoidable for northern Baja, NW wind blockage is your friend with solid swell and high pressure building along the coast behind a passing low. If that isn't your thing, head further south where a smaller, but still good-size share of the WNW to NW swells will make it into exposures of Baja Sur sans inclement winds and weather (for the most part).

Reason 4: Money in the bank
The age-old cliche is a hard one to argue with -- sort of the reincarnation of the surfer's golden rule that everyone knows, but everyone breaks: "Don't leave good waves to find better waves." Because there isn't always something better down the beach. For instance, the North Pacific, in the latter stages of one of the strongest El Niño's on record, looks primed to deliver a healthy run of WNW swells through the first few weeks of the month, and we already have a pair of hurricane- force lows as of March 1. And climate models suggest plentiful storm activity clear into the back half of the month. Oh yeah, and the Southern Hemisphere has opened for business. More of a soft launch than a blowout grand-opening sale, but still.

Reason 5: The South Pacific is stirring
That's right, the Roaring 40s, 50s and 60s at the south end of the world's largest saltwater swimming pool are stretching. The tracksuits are fresh and the early-season storms are looking spritely with a pair of gale-force lows strewn across the south/central and southwest Pacific. This has multiple meanings, most notably; a variety of surfbreaks that aren't into the WNW swell window will turn on, and breaks exposed to the combo of swells will, at times, be peaky/crossed up (when WNW and SW/SSW swells are running simultaneously) during the month of March. This isn't a fluke. Compared to the climatology, March for moderate to strong El Niño years has a knack for increased storm activity to the southeast of New Zealand.