New Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Next update is scheduled for late Tues 1/22. Going to the mountains.
On Thursday (1/14) Northern CA surf was chest high with rare head high sets and wind offshore. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high with luck. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest high with up to head high sets. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist high and rarely more at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high with luck. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were thigh to waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was 2-3 ft overhead on the sets and slightly cleaner. The South Shore was waist high from the southern hemi. The East Shore was up to 2 ft overhead at exposed breaks coming from the north.
North/Central California was getting northerly windswell mixed with minimal dateline energy. Southern California was basically in the doldrums. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a bit of energy from the dateline with more on the way. The East Shore was getting some north windswell pushing in. The South Shore was getting the leading edge of some small but definitely out of season southern hemi swell. The Hawaiian Islands are the place to be finally, with high pressure locking down the East Pacific and all energy coming from a series of gales that are in the West Pacific pushing east to the dateline then veering heavily to the north, steered by a jetstream that was splitting hard starting at the dateline. See details below...
Congratulations to all the Mavericks Surf Contest Contestants and especially Greg Long and Twiggy Baker for their first and second place finishes. Jamie Sterling came in third with Tyler Smith fourth, Grant Washburn fifth and Evan Slater sixth. Surf was fun sized in the 15 ft range out of the west-northwest with clear blue skies, warm temperatures and glassy conditions all day. It was a classic Northern California event.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (1/17) for the North Pacific were not much different
from the last report, namely with a solid flow pushing flat off Japan to
200 kts reaching the dateline, then majorly splitting with the northern branch
tracking northeast well into Western Alaska and the southern branch passing
just south of Hawaii then east towards Mexico. Only the area just west of
the International Dateline was supportive of storm development. Over the
next 72 hours nothing is to change in the east and the flow in the west is
to slowly weaken, with winds down to 130 kts by Sunday (1/20). The split
point is to drift a little east to 170W, but nothing significant. Again storm
development to be confined to the west of the dateline. Beyond 72 hours the
situation is to get even more dire, with the jet splitting even more back
to the west reaching 165E by Tuesday (1/22), with the northern branch heading
due north there up into the western Bering Sea and not tracking south of
the Aleutians and pushing inland over Alaska. No support for storm development
over any part of the North Pacific by then.
At the surface today high pressure remained in control of the Northeast Pacific with one high centered in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska at 1036 mbs and a second north of Hawaii at 1020 mbs. Will see if this is part of the usual mid-winter pause, or something worse. Swell from a previous gale in the Northwest Pacific was in the water hitting Hawaii and heading towards California (see Dateline Gale below). Low pressure at 996 mbs was trying to organize mid-way between Japan and the dateline. Over the next 72 hours two systems of interest are charted near the dateline. Details are provided below (see Another Dateline Gale, and Third Dateline Gale).
On Monday (1/14) a huge broad but poorly organized low pressure system was centered just off Kamchatka filling the Bering Sea and generating 35-40 kt winds extending from the Kuril Islands southeast towards the dateline but not making it there. This fetch started on Sunday (1/13) at 35 kts producing 27 ft seas pushing to 29-30 ft Monday then fading out by Tuesday with seas dropping fast from 30 ft. All seas were generally in the area of 37N-40N and 160-170E or 2000-2400 nmiles from Hawaii with fetch aimed there down the 306-312 degree paths. Swell from the first part of this system arrived on the North Shore late Wed (1/15). The second batch of swell energy is expected to arrive early Friday (1/18) with swell 7.3 ft @ 15 secs (10-11 ft faces) fading from 7.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (10 ft faces) early Saturday (1/19). Swell Direction for all about 310 degrees. Trades bringing offshore's to the North Shore Friday and beyond.
Little bits of this to reach exposed breaks in Central and North CA too starting late Thursday (1/17) with swell 2.9 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft faces) pushing 4 ft @ 14 secs (5.5 ft faces) early Friday with the secondary swell arriving late Saturday (1/19) pushing 3.6 ft @ 17 secs (6 ft faces) fading from 5.8 ft @ 15 secs Sunday (8 ft faces). Swell Direction 295-305 degrees.
Another Dateline Gale
A moderate sized gale started forming just east of the dateline early Thursday (1/17) with pressure 996 mbs producing a tiny fetch of 35 kt winds building to 40-45 kts aimed Hawaii in it's southwest quadrant and northeast towards the Pacific Northwest by evening. Seas building to 30 ft at 37N 178E. By Friday AM (1/18) it's to hit the impenetrable wall of high pressure east of the dateline, and track directly north with 45 kt fetch in it's south quadrant aimed midway between Hawaii and the Mainland from 38N 178E. 25 ft seas modeled near 35N 180W. In the evening residual fetch at 45 kts to continue at 40N 175E aimed like before, but the bulk of the system to nearly be over the Aleutians bounds for the Bering Sea. 35 ft seas modeled at 40N 175E aimed like the winds but favoring Hawaii due to it's close proximity. By Saturday AM just about all this system to be in the Bering Sea and dissipating. Seas from previous fetch to be 35 ft at 38N 178W heading almost due east, or towards California 20 degrees south of the 290 degree path to NCal (295 Scal). By nigh fall that to be gone.
This to result in swell for Hawaii's Northern Shores starting early Monday (1/21) at 8.2 ft @ 16 secs (12-13 ft faces) from 310-315 degrees fading from 7.2 ft @ 13 secs Tuesday (9 ft faces).
Swell expected for exposed breaks in Northern CA starting Wednesday morning (1/23) at 6 ft @ 15-16 secs (8-9 ft faces) from 290 degrees and nearly the same size in Central CA by early afternoon. Swell to 3 ft @ 16 secs (4.5 ft faces) in Southern CA by sunset at exposed breaks from 295 degrees
Third Dateline Gale
Yet another similar system to develop late Saturday (1/19) over the dateline with a tiny fetch of 60 kt winds in it's south quadrant at 33N 175E aimed well at Hawaii up the 300 degree path. It's to be lifting fast northeast to north by Sunday AM (1/20) with 55 kt winds holding at 37N 178W aimed 35 degree east of the 330 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 288 degree path to NCal (293 SCal). 32 ft seas forecast at 36N 179W. A tiny area of 55 kts winds to hold into the evening at 42N 170W aimed at Ncal up the 293 degree path (298 SCal). 35 ft seas forecast at 40N 172W. By Monday AM 55 kt winds are to still be present at 48N 162W but the system is to be lifting fast to the north with little of this energy pushing towards even the Pacific Northwest. 35 ft seas forecast at 46N 165W.
Swell to start hitting Hawaii on Tues (1/22) peaking near 8.5 ft @ 15 secs mid-day (12 ft faces). Swell 6 ft @ 13 secs (8 ft faces) on Wed and fading. Swell Direction: 310-315 degrees
Possible 17 sec period swell for Northern California starting Thursday (1/24) reaching 6 ft @ 15-16 secs (9 ft faces). Swell Direction: 290 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
As of Thursday (1/17) strong high pressure was just off the Pacific Northwest at 1040 mbs generating an offshore flow over California waters and holding any approaching storm system from the West Pacific well at bay. No change is forecast through Saturday, then Sunday a bit of a backdoor front tracking south over land is to push over California setting up north winds at 20+ kts early in the Bay Area and building south into Southern CA It to try and hong on Monday but by Tuesday and offshore flow is to again take control holding through the end of the workweek.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
An interesting pattern developed in the South Pacific last week with 2 systems of interest occurring, and one more little pulse this week.
First up was a tiny 984 mb gale that built under New Zealand starting Wednesday (1/9) and holding through mid-day Friday (1/11) with winds confirmed at 45 kts and producing seas in the 27-30 ft range through it's life, confirmed twice as the Jason-1 satellite passed directly overhead. This one tracked northeast with most fetch moving into the gales west quadrant aimed almost completely north and well at Hawaii up the usual 201 degree path initially then moving towards 190 degrees. Seas in the 29 ft range held till late Friday before this one died out. A good shot of unseasonable southern hemi swell is expected for south shores of the Hawaiian Islands starting Thursday (1/17) with swell 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) peaking Friday (1/18) at 2 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft faces) then settling down Saturday (1/19) from 2.3 ft @ 13 secs (3 ft faces). Swell Direction: 190-200 degrees.
A second storm developed under New Zealand Friday PM (1/11) with winds in the 50 kt range and seas to 30 ft. This one took a easterly track with fetch aimed mostly east to east-northeast, reasonably towards the US West Coast and Central America with sideband energy towards Hawaii. The peak occurring on late Saturday into Sunday (1/13) with seas confirmed by the Jason-1 satellite at 33.6 ft at 56S 172W Sat PM and modeled up to 35 ft all day Sunday from 56S 164W moving to 53S 155W. Rough data suggest swell pushing into Hawaii by Sun (1/20) with swell 1.6 ft @ 17 secs early (2.5-3.0 ft faces) likely fading to 1.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft faces) Monday (1/21). Swell Direction 185-190 degrees. Southern California to see tiny swell starting Tuesday (1/22) with period 18 secs.
Yet another small one pushed under New Zealand on Monday PM (1/14) with a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 54S 164E pushing east, then fading from barely 30 ft Tuesday AM (1/15) at 53S 175E. 27 ft seas were modeled at 53S 177W in the evening and gone after that. Most fetch on this one was aimed due east, limiting even Hawaii's exposure to potential swell. Mainly background energy for the South Shore starting near Tues (1/29) from 200 degrees.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hrs a bit of a break is forecast until another system is forecast building directly over the Kuril Islands late Wednesday into Thursday (1/24). 50 kts winds and 30 ft seas are forecast, but that's so far off as to be worthless at this early date.
Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Update: Starting about 1/1/2008 the MJO started moving into the active phase with a strong area of reversed winds at the 850 mb level starting to encroach into the far Western Tropical Pacific and east-bound. On Sat (1/5) the SOI was very positive reading 40 with no signs of dipping into negative territory. By Monday (1/7) it dipped to 6 then lifted slightly to 12 a day later and has held there through Monday (1/14). Finally on Tuesday (1/15) it dipped to 3 and then has been -9 and -7 through Thurs (1/17). The model depicts these anomalous winds currently tracking east over the dateline and are expected to continue their eastbound travels and fade out totally by the end of the month with the inactive phase building momentum right behind. We suspect this incarnation of the MJO fueling the enhanced storm pattern that resulted in a string of solid surf for the first half of January, but with the jetstream so split now, any additional benefits may be improbable.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest another system is building in the Southeast Pacific on Saturday AM (1/19) in association with a 964 mb low producing a very limited fetch of 45 kts winds aimed east-northeast. 30 ft seas forecast Saturday PM into Sunday AM near 53S 130-140W, targeting mainly Central America. Maybe limited energy pushing into Southern CA a week later with luck.
Details to follow...
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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Grib File Switchover: The old grib1 format wave model datafiles that have been the mainstay of the National Weather service for years now are scheduled to be retired on 1/26. We switched over to the new grib2 files starting with the 00z run of Thurs 1/17. All appears to be running fine. There is no functional change to the content of the models, just that files we receive are now smaller due to improved compression of grib2. But this sets us up to start processing new higher resolution files and building new products in the months ahead. So in all it's a good maintenance level change.
Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans – except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here: http://www.sharkwater.com
Bluewater Gold Rush: The first and only chronicle of the California sea urchin dive fishery. Diving, surfing, comedy, and tragedy on and under the waves of California. "A quintessential tale of California ... dramas of adventure and loss on and under the sea" We read it and it's a great story about the bloom of the urchin diving boom in the 70's and the few lucky souls who were right there when it took off. An easy read that's hard to put down. The trials and success of a 'real' California dream right down to it's core. Check it out here: http://www.bluewatergoldrush.com
Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit www.thesurfbook.com. Submit online at www.casagrandepress.com
Waveriders Gallery: Check out this collection of high quality artwork all related to waves and the ocean. Surf Paintings, Photography, Posters, Books, Boards and exhibits all produced by a variety of top artists provide a beautiful selection of pieces to chose from. Take and look and see some of the stunning work available from these artists. http://www.waveridersgallery.net/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table