Red Tide Blues: The Worst California Summer Ever?

posted by / News / August 10, 2005

There is an attitude you sense when you are hanging out at the beach in Southern California these days, it is that feeling that we have been ripped off. It’s already August, summer is almost over, but we still haven’t seen a single, double-overhead southern hemi (hell, we’ve only had a couple that could qualify as “overhead”). None of those big south swells that make a summer in California what it is all about; endless walls at Trestles, wearing only boardshorts watching pretty girls shredding in bikinis. Instead we have the longest, ugliest red tide in the last ten years and record numbers of jellyfish.


Chances are that once these blanks are glassed, they will have quite a while to cure before they get ridden in any decent swell

I am actually a fan of red tide; yeah it stinks, looks nasty, and possibly gives you ear and throat infections, but red tide contains phosphorescence. One good night session, sticking your hand into the face of the wave and watching the trail of light race back into the glowing foam makes all those inconveniences worth it. Besides, the version we have in California is not that dangerous, it might make you a little sick, but the Atlantic version can kill you.

But without the waves, the red tide is just another inconvenience in what many people are already calling the worst summer in memory. And it’s not only your usual jaded bitter old timers complaining about lousy waves this summer. Everybody, groms and geezers alike are agreeing that they can’t remember a summer with worse surf. A lot of the people I talked to blamed the lack of waves on global warming affecting the earth’s ocean currents. According to them, the lack of swell is just one more symptom of a sick planet. Slightly skeptical of surf shop employees’ understanding of world weather patterns, I called Vic De Jesus, head meteorologist at WaveWatch, for the scientific explanation behind California’s lack of waves. According to Vic, normally during the summer storms form in the southern hemisphere, below Australia and move towards us, pounding us with swell on the way up, but this summer high-pressure systems in the mid latitudes have prevented those storms from forming. Although possibly an indication of disturbed world weather patterns, Vic said this pattern was pretty normal, completely cyclical, and just about to end. Meaning waves are on the way, and I finally get my Southern California summer. A little something is coming this weekend, and by the middle of next week it is supposed to be really good. See you at Lowers.


What’s a surf-crazed grom to do? Apparently, they sit around at their local shop and play with all the new boards!

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