New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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.
On Sunday (2/1) North and Central California had surf in the waist high range and clean, but it was just local north windswell from off Cape Mendocino generated late on Saturday. Local conditions were good with offshore winds. Southern California was near flat with only the largest sets reaching thigh high but clean and coming from the north wrapping around Pt Conception and through the Channel Island gauntlet. Hawaii's North Shore had some thigh to waist high sets, but nothing more. Essentially flat. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting waist high plus northeast windswell.
For Central California a little larger pulse of northerly swell is expected in on Monday from a gale that passed through the Gulf of Alaska on Saturday with 25 ft seas, but all targeting Canada with only sideband energy pushing into the CCal swell window. At least it will be somewhat rideable. And that is to be gone by Tuesday. Southern California is to theoretically get a hint of that energy later Monday but surf to only reach maybe thigh high, and only at the most exposed breaks, then essentially gone by Tuesday. The North Shore of Hawaii to be near flat Monday with no swell expected. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expecting any surf. The East Shore to drop off on Monday with tradewind windswell nearly gone, but forecast to come up Tuesday reaching 1 ft overhead then trickling down into Wednesday to nearly head high and stabilizing there for a few days.
Longer term the models continue to suggest some activity developing, with some fetch already taking hold on the oceans surface. First up is a small gale that has formed over the northern dateline region on Sat (1/31) generating 30-35 kt winds and 23 ft seas. Not particularly interesting, but by late Monday into Tuesday up to 45 kt winds and 26 ft seas are forecast building pushing halfway between Hawaii and California, offering rideable swell for both. Hawaii is first up with sideband surf by Tuesday then CA by Thursday AM (2/5). And of more interest is a broad gale which was building off Northern Japan Saturday (1/31) expected to push northeast and reach storm status with 50-55 kt winds and 45-48 ft seas through the day Tuesday (2/3). The issue with this one is it is to be very far to the north with most fetch aimed east of the great circle paths to Hawaii, meaning lesser swell for them, and aimed almost right up the great circle routes to the US mainland, but a very long ways away. The more northern position will ultimately put less energy coming into Southern CA and even protected areas of North CA. Will see how this one actually evolves since it's still a day or so off from getting really interesting. At least there's something track. After these two systems, everything shuts down.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (2/1) the North Pacific jetstream was trying to organize with a decent flow of 140 kt winds pushing off Japan feeding into a weak trough there, but ridging north fast and pushing to the Aleutians on the dateline, then dropping into another stronger trough in the Gulf of Alaska with 150 kt winds feeding into it. Limited energy was peeling off the base of that trough starting to for a split flow pushing into Baja while the northern branch ridged again to the north and was pushing into northern British Columbia. Decent odds for gale development in the Japan and Gulf troughs. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (2/4) the Gulf trough is to push east and start getting steeper, pinching off late on Tuesday (2/3) through still offering some support for gale development. It might even start regenerating Wednesday off the CA coast setting up the possibility of much needed weather there. Meanwhile the trough off Japan is to push east and get larger but less defined with winds never exceeding 140 kts. Decent support for surface level gale development there. Beyond 72 hrs a building pocket of energy is forecast extending from Japan to nearly the dateline by Saturday (2/7) with up to 160 kt winds forecast there but flowing flat, with no real troughing expected. A bit of a split flow is forecast from north of Hawaii into the mainland through still some of that trough off California is to hold into Saturday, supporting weather/rain there. Finally by Sunday somewhat of a trough is to start taking shape off the Kuril Islands offering gale development there with a split flow taking hold of the far Eastern Pacific shutting down production there.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was dangling off the California coast ridging into Oregon and Washington on into the Great Basin, bringing clear skies there. A weak close isobar low was in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska (see Gulf Gale below). Also a large and building gale was off Japan (See Dateline Storm below). Over the next 72 hours the Gulf Gale is to build while dropping southeast, eventually pushing up to the California coast later in the workweek. The Japan storm is to wind up and provide a short burst of decent winds aimed towards the US West Coast best, but from a long ways away, then dissipate quickly while high pressure at 1028 mbs builds trades over the Hawaiian Islands by late Tuesday and beyond. Previously a weak gale developed in the Northern Gulf on Friday (1/30) with up to 35 kt west winds pushing seas to 25 ft at 52N 142W (319 degree relative to Central CA) late with limited odds for 13 sec period sideband swell pushing towards the US West Coast for Monday AM (2/2). This gale continued east into Central Canada on Saturday producing limited swell for the Pacific Northwest on Sunday.
A gale developed on the dateline late Friday (1/30) with a limited fetch of 40 kt wind over a tiny area at 46N 180W and seas to 25 ft late at 46N 179W, dropping southeast. Additional energy tried to become assimilated into this system from the west Saturday, but only served to pull it apart with 35 kt northwest winds and 23 ft seas at 43N 173W late. The low continued dropping southeast Sunday AM (2/1) with 30 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 40N 169W. It is forecast to start reorganizing Sunday PM with 35 kt north winds at 42N 159W aimed more to the south with 20 ft seas holding at 39N 159W. By Monday AM (2/2) 45 kt northwest winds are forecast over a small area at 42N 152W with 23 ft seas building at 405N 153W. By evening 40 kt northwest winds are forecast holding at 42N 148W with 26 ft seas at 40N 149W, all aimed southeast towards Mexico. Fetch is to fade pushing to the southeast near 35 kts and aimed even more to the south on Tuesday AM with seas from previous fetch to 26 ft at 40N 145W. A steady decay to follow after that with the system pushing up to the Central CA coast then inching over land Thursday.
Possible moderate 15 sec period swell to be generated pushing towards the US West Coast arriving in Central CA Wednesday evening after dark. Swell theoretically at 6 ft @ 15 secs (9 ft faces) from 285 degrees but likely down from that by sunrise Thursday, and weather from this system to be in control of nearshore waters by then. Sideband energy dropping into Hawaii from this one by as early as late Monday (2/2) but most size on Tuesday at 6.6 ft @ 13 secs (8-9 ft faces) from 330 degrees. .
Possible Dateline Storm #5
Another system, this time a storm, started building off Japan Saturday (1/31) though no fetch was aimed at either Hawaii or the US West Coast, instead all to the south.
By Sunday AM (2/1) a large fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds were getting hold of the oceans surface generating 28 ft seas but still aimed well south of any great circle path to even Hawaii. In the evening the gale is to start lifting northeast with limited 40-45 kt northwest winds at 43N 160E aimed towards Hawaii down the 312 degree path with seas of 23 ft roughly at 40N 160E pushing towards the Islands.
On Monday AM (2/2) 45-50 kt west winds are to start setting up at 46N 164E aimed 30 degrees east of the 318 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 303 degree path to North CA. Seas building from 28 ft at 40N 162E, mainly from previous fetch. In the evening a solid fetch of 50 kt west winds are to be in place at 46N 165E aimed like before with seas building to 35 ft at 45N 165E, traveling right up the 303 degree path to Central CA and 30 degrees east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii.
Tuesday AM 50 kt west winds are to be steadily decaying at 47N 170E aimed right up the 304 degree path to NCal and 45 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii with seas building to 45 ft at 47N 171E. By evening 45 kt west winds to be fading at 48N 175E aimed 45 degrees east of the 324 degree path to HAwaii and right up the 306 degree path to North CA with seas theoretically peaking at 48 ft at 48N 177E, almost on the dateline.
This system to dissipate quickly after that with only 40 kt west winds forecast by Wednesday AM and seas fading from 39 ft at 50N 175W and impacting the Aleutian Islands.
This is to be a short lived but fairly strong system with it's best asset being it's size, pushing into the large category. But winds are not to exceed maybe 55 kts limiting it's ability to generate long period swell. Relative to Hawaii this system to push most energy way east of any path into HAwaii, meaning all swell to be mostly sideband energy. Still, some swell is certainly better than none at all. For California, the good news is the fetch is to be aimed right towards the state. The bad news is the storm itself is to be too far to the north to have good impact for Southern CA, and even too far north for protected breaks like Santa Cruz and select others. Significant class swell should result at the buoys, but would be only a fraction of that size hitting the beach. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (2/1) high pressure at 1028 mbs was off the California coast ridging into Oregon then on into the Great Basin. 15 kt north winds were indicated off the CA coast, with east to northeast winds nearshore. The high is to be moving inland on Monday (2/2) with offshore east to southeast winds in control a broad local low pressure system starts moving into the area, with south winds in control by Tuesday everywhere but Southern CA, and even moving there by Wednesday. South winds to continue on Thursday into Friday as the low nudges up and into the coast. Light rain possible starting Thursday for the entire state continuing Friday, though snow levels likely to be high as this is to be a warm core system. Strong local north winds forecast over outer waters on Friday at 35+ kts as high pressure at 1036 mbs tries to build in behind the low forming a pressure gradient, but never quite moves onshore. Light north winds forecast Saturday and Sunday (2/8) while yet another low tries to builds between Hawaii and California. Rain to linger over Southern CA Saturday clearing out Sunday.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours follow-on winds from the Dateline Storm (above) are to continue over the northern dateline region just south of the Aleutians generatinglimited 25 ft seas over a small area into Friday (2/6) aimed all to the east likely providing small 13-15 sec period background swell for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA. But no organized systems of interest are forecast.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (2/1) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) appeared to be moving to the Inactive Phase. The Daily SOI index was up sharply to 34.25. The 30 day average was up some to 7.66 and the 90 day average was up to 12.35. La Nina was still well dug-in. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a weak area of easterly winds over the dateline and Central America, suggestive that the MJO was in a weak Inactive state. This is consistent with projections as much as a month earlier. At the same time the next incarnation of the Active Phase was building in the Indian Ocean, though weakly. It's is expected to start pushing into the far Western Pacific by 2/5 and reaching the dateline 5 days later, holding there and slowly withering through 2/20. This is much earlier than previously suggested. This supports the gale patter forecast for the Northern Pacific over the next week. .
No swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days.
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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here: http://www.surfpulse.com/2009/01/visceral-surf-forecasting-with-mark-sponsler/
Help Out a Fellow Mavericks Surfer: Our friend Christy Davis is going through some tough times. His 14 year old daughter has been diagnosed with leukemia and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy. The prognosis is good but we'd all like to help him out with medical expenses not covered by insurance. If you would like to donate, send an email to us here or send it to Christy directly at: Chris Davis PO Box 628 Moss Beach, CA 94038
Swell #2 Mavericks Videos from Powerlines Productions: Check out the action on both Saturday and Sunday (11/30) from that massive swell of 12-13 ft @ 25 secs. Filmed by Curt Myers and Eric Nelson. Really thick! See this and more plus the movie Ride-On 12/11 at the Old Princeton Landing or the Red Vic Moviehouse in San Francisco 12/19-23. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA57cIBkA0o & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37SCR9kDm60
Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455
Pictures from Swell #1 - The first real significant class swell of the season produced a bit of action at Mavericks. See pictures here http://www.mavsurfer.com
Big Surf Up North - the First swell of the Fall 2008/2009 season brought a few large raw waves to the North CA Coast. Check out the details here: http://www.towsurfer.com/default.asp
The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here: http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good examples of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias
And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Mavericks Contest 2008: View all the action from the 2008 Maverick Surf Contest from Powelines Productions here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o5lj9CUpCc
Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table