What is a shadowed swell?
Unbeknownst to a lot of Souther California surfers, many of the great swells we get originate near Alaska and Antarctica. They don’t necesarily come from the poles per se, but storms often churn at the higher latitudes and then kindly send ripples our way. Of course, the Earth is not smooth and so, those ripples have plenty of obsticles before they reach us. For example, say there is a storm brewing south west of New Zealand. With luck, that storm will send a swell right to Southern California way and we’ll have a good time surfing it. But before the swell hits our beaches, it has to pass through a bevy of Pacific islands. And everytime that swell passes through a land mass like that, some of the energy of the swell is absorbed by the island. When that happens, we are in a kind of shadow of the islands standing between us and the epicenter of the storm. We often suffer from being in Catalina’s shadow. But the point is, the swell that finally reaches us called a “shadowed swell” as it is not the strength of the original swell that set out for us.
How does this matter? Personally, I don’t think it does. All that really matters is what the swell is when it gets here. Pointing out that it was a shadowed swell really only taunts you into knowing that it could have been bigger, but Fiji had to go and mess it all up!