Rincon, Puerto Rico Surf Forecast – Dec 19, 2018

Plenty of cow-bell! Nonstop surf in Rincon, Puerto Rico.

All the cow-bell you can handle – Rincon to see nonstop surf!

The ocean is loaded with energy right now. We won’t be flat for a while. Sure, we will see ups and downs but there is no shortage of wave generating weather and we’re in a prime part of winter. The short version of the long range forecast is surf just about everyday from tomorrow through to the end of the year with a couple of tiny surf lesson days thrown in the mix in between swell events. If that’s enough for you, great! If you want to know the nitty gritty, I’ve prepared a fairly thorough forecast of how I see things playing out from here through the rest of the year.

Short Term Surf Forecast (Dec 19 through Dec 22)

Surf generating winds for Rincon, Puerto Rico.
For today (Dec 19, 2018) we could see some little NW lines creep in with the tide change in the afternoon. The storm currently amplifying off the coat of the US has blown hard NW winds across the ocean with a decent swoop form the frontal boundary. This storm hasn’t been identical to the previous week’s winter storm, but the two weather systems have a lot in common. The past storm gave us a solid 5 days of nonstop swell. I see the current system giving us 3. We should see surf fill in a few feet over head by the end of Thursday, the 20th. The backside fetch and pressure movement should throw us some head high leftovers with bigger sets on Friday, the 21st. Saturday the 22nd should start off fun in the chest to head high range and slowly fade out through the day. If the swell delays everything could be pushed back a day.

Meet the Polar Vortex: How it will affect the surf in Rincon, Puerto Rico.

The polar vortex has been showing signs of weakening which leads to all those dips in the jetstream. This is part of why we have been seeing so many lower latitude winter storms pull of the states. Lower latitude storms tend to bring better surf than most models call for. This is why the previous swell event was forecast so poorly by many of the major automated surf forecast tools. Many people figured the swell was dying down and going flat because that’s what the computer told them. On the beach it was a different story and it didn’t get below head high for several mornings. We’re forecast to see another banger pull off North Florida and North Carolina around the 22nd.

Medium Term Surf Forecast (Dec 23 – 26)


The models are calling for a very low latitude storm to have HARD NW winds behind it and move very quickly along with a considerable dip in the jetstream. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this swell event amplify. Historically speaking, we’re due for a major swell event and its either going to be this weather system or the one that is possibly showing up the 26th. So if this storm doesn’t bring the epic, expect to see it around the end of the year. December 23rd will most likely have small to flat conditions in the morning but the new NW swell could show in the afternoon in the head high range and build quickly.
December 24th will be hit with some 2-4ft overhead surf with possible double overhead sets. Every tucked away nook and cranny spot will see swell creep in. There will be a lot of west in the swell. The 25th will be the clean-up day and drop a little bit in size but plenty of swell will be in the water. I anticipate the sets to have several waves and most sessions will be fairly high in intensity with most waves around head high and bigger sets. The swell will fade out on the 26th as the next round of weather gets itself ready to dump swell out for the end of the year. The morning of the 26th can still be pretty fun at exposed spots though so don’t count it out.

Long Range Surf Forecast (Dec 27 – Jan 2)

This is the one everyone wants to know about. This is the week that 80% of the eastern united states will migrate to Rincon Puerto Rico. Expect crowds and traffic to be very, very bad. Knowing how to beat the crowds will be key. Fortunately, this has been one of the least windy Decembers I have ever seen. No matter what the computer models forecast for wind, we haven’t seen it. As a result of the lower winds in the evenings and mornings, pretty much every spot in Rincon has been glassy in the morning. Afternoons have suffered from onshore seabreeze chronically this month so try not to miss the morning sessions. The 27th through the 29th look like when the ocean could be taking a breather, but if the back end of the winter storm from the 22nd kicks up a decent NE fetch these three days could be chock full of long period NE swell. This would keep Rincon in the chest high range with bigger surf in the head high to overhead range in Aguadilla and Isabela. Notice the L over california in the surface map above? That’s what should be working itself out during the 27th through the 29th. The 30th could see some front runners in the evening. If our current rhythm persists, we should see the storm pull out in the Atlantic by the 29th. This would mean swell arrival for the 31st and the 1st of 2019 in the overhead range. This system is very, very far away and this a very long ways out which technically would make it impossible to forecast accurately. I’m daring to accomplish the impossible in this post and make my year end call. I think we’ll see big swell show up for the year’s end.

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Today

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Wave Watch III from NOAA wave prediction model for surfing Puerto Rico.

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Wave Watch III from NOAA wave prediction model for surfing Puerto Rico.

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Wave Watch III from NOAA wave prediction model for surfing Puerto Rico.

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Wave Watch III from NOAA wave prediction model for surfing Puerto Rico.

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Wave Watch III from NOAA wave prediction model for surfing Puerto Rico.

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Wave Watch III from NOAA wave prediction model for surfing Puerto Rico.

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National Hurricane Forecast Center
Atlantic Ocean Satellite Loop

Using Automated Forecast Tools:

Remember that no matter what a computer model tells you, what you see on the beach might be completely different. That's why i go take pictures of the beach every day. These tools help give an idea of what to expect, but weather prediction is not always exact especially the further out you try to forecast. Surf forecasting takes into account the general correlation between past weather data and resulting surf conditions. Another thing to keep in mind is the difference between actual swell height and the face height of the rideable wave it creates. For example. When the waves are forecast to have a 6ft swell at 13 seconds or higher with a NW angle we normally get waves that most people would call double over-head on sets. Swell angle is also important, especially for shorter period swell (9-11 seconds). For example 3ft at 11 seconds from the NW will make a bigger wave than 4ft at 9 seconds from the NE. Normally longer period swell (13+ seconds) will be more powerful and keep the surf size a little better even if the angle isn't a direct hit to Rincon. Generally any swell less than 9 seconds is super weak here in Rincon unless it has a lot of west in it. Also, most NE swell under 12 seconds is weak and mushy. 2ft at 8 seconds is generally small to flat. ENE swell will almost never make it into Rincon unless it was something like 10ft at 18 seconds from the ENE.