On Thursday (2/8) Northern CA surf was head high to a few feet overhead and reasonably clean early, but that was short lived. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high. Central California surf was waist to chest high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were a thigh to waist high on the sets at the best spots. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high on the sets at the best spots. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were chest high with head high sets. The North Shore of Oahu was triple overhead and pretty messy. The South Shore was near flat. The East Shore was head high at north exposed breaks.
North California was heading up with energy from Swell #14 moving in. Southern California was tiny except for select spots down south, but all to be getting small energy from Swell #14 by Friday AM. Hawaii was getting the core of Swell #15 with solid energy in the water along with more Kona winds. The pattern is temporarily shifting east with the development of Storm #16 between the Islands and California, focused mainly on Central CA southward. This to provide a solid dose of somewhat raw energy on the California coast this weekend with a wet and windy pattern in charge locally. Hawaii conversely to be in the back seat, with thing heading down into a lull after Swell #15 fades. But that's not to say no more is coming, just a bit of a break until the next dateline storm is forecast early next week. This one, which has come and gone from the models several times as of late is expected to be very similar to it's predecessors, being strongest approaching the dateline, then fading as it moves east of that point. This pattern favors Hawaii. In parallel a tiny little gale is to push through the Gulf of Alaska early next week, providing a morsel of energy pushing into North Ca and the Pacific Northwest. In all nothing outstanding indicated, but neither is to to be flat. Given the possibilities and the time of year, we should be thankful for everything we get. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (2/8) depicted a reasonably cohesive flow of wind energy to 170 kts pushing off southern Japan tracking due east over the dateline and north of Hawaii on the 30N latitude, then continuing east though a bit weaker to a point 650 nmiles west of north Baja. There the jet split with the southern branch pushing into Cabo while the dominant northern brach pushed just north of San Francisco, ushering in the first taste of surface moisture there in a very long time. The faintest hint of a split was still pushing a dribble of energy north from the dateline up to the Aleutians, but it dissipated there. Two weak troughs were present in the overall flow. one off the kuril Islands and the second between Hawaii and California. These locations were the best hopes for surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/11) that weak little flow pealing north at the dateline is to finally dissipate completely, a very good thing. This has been the real source of problems so far this winter. An increase in the energy flow is expected off Japan with winds building to 190 kts there ridging some towards the dateline. A weak barely split flow to continue east of the dateline pushing into California but not too bad. Best bets for surface level gale or storm development is to be above that pocket of energy off Japan. Beyond 72 hours unfortunately overall energy levels to slowly fade with winds down to 140 kts in one small pocket west of the dateline next Thursday (2/15).The weak split pattern to continue in the east still pushing into California and Baja. In all not alot of support for surface level storm or gale development.
At the surface today the Storm #16 was positioned northeast of Hawaii falling to the southeast (details below) with energy from it's leading edge already pushing south winds and rain into California. Hawaii was in a dead zone with neither high or low pressure in the immediate area. A generic weak low pressure system covered the Western Pacific, not strong enough to generate and swell producing fetch. In all pretty laxidazical Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/11) Storm #16 to fade slow and disintegrate while pushing northeast up in the the Pacific Northwest coast. A weak closed low to coalesce out of the generic low pressure over the West Pacific, tracking towards the Gulf of Alaska Sat/Sun, but not generating any real fetch and getting no real traction on the oceans surface. Only 23 ft seas forecast. A new low is theoretically to try and develop just off the coast of Japan on Sunday, possible making something out of itself (see long term forecast). But in all, a bit of a downward slide is expected with no real gales of interest forecast. High pressure to try and get a hold over Hawaii late in the weekend, possibly signaling the return of trades to the Islands.
Storm #14 (Hawaii)
A new gale pushed off the Northern Kuril Islands Friday evening (2/2) with winds confirmed at 40-45 kts at 40N 165E aimed 35 degrees south of the 295 degree path to California but right down the 310 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were building.
By Saturday AM (2/3) winds were confirmed holding at 40-45 kts at 40N 170E again aimed best at Hawaii down the 312 degree path. Seas modeled up to 27 ft at 41N 162E. Beyond 72 hours by Saturday evening winds dropping to the 35-40 kt range at 38N 180W as this system hit the dateline aimed almost right at Hawaii down the 317 degree path and 35 degrees south of the 290 route into California. Seas were up to 30 ft at 38N 175E.
A little more 40 kt winds were confirmed Sunday AM (2/4) as the core of the low lifted north to the intersection of the the Aleutians and the dateline with targeting Hawaii from 40N 180W just 20 degrees east of the 320 degree great circle path. Seas again modeled to 31 ft at 38N 180W. Residuals seas were modeled at 29 ft @ 38N 175W Sunday evening and fading fast with no swell producing wind left.
This was by no means an impressive system, though it was fairly large in girth. Winds never reached storm status (50 kts) and it was short lived with only 36 hours of effective fetch. Still that was enough to produce sufficient seas to qualify as a significant class storm mainly due to Hawaii's relatively close proximity to the fetch, limiting swell decay. California to only see small to moderate utility class well from this.
California: Expect utility class energy from this on to hit North CA late Thursday (2/8) with swell up to 5.8-6.5 ft @ 16 secs late (8.5-9.5 ft faces) from 280-290 degrees. Lesser energy to push into Southern CA on Friday (2/9) while the swell decays to the north. Consults QuikCAST's for details.
Storm #15 (Hawaii)
Another stronger system pushed off North Japan on Sunday (2/4) with pressure 980 mbs generating confirmed winds of 50-55 kts over a small area at 41N 154E again targeting Hawaii down the 307 degree path if not aimed a hair south of there, with nothing aimed at Calfiornia.Seas building to 29 ft at 40N 155E.
This one continued falling southeast with pressure 984 mbs Monday AM (2/5) generating 40-45 kt northwest winds at 33N 170E aimed exclusively at Hawaii down the 298 degree path while 40-45 degrees off the 287 degree route to California. Seas building to 32 ft at 36N 163E. 40-45 kt northwest winds continued in the evening at 30N 175E aimed well down the 305 degree path to Hawaii. 32 ft seas modeled sinking southeast at 33N 171E.
The core of the storm passed over the dateline Tuesday AM (2/6) with a small area of only 35 kt winds continuing at 33N 170W aimed right at Hawaii down the 331 degree great circle path. Seas 30 ft at 30N 180W. By evening this one to be nearly gone with the core low pressure tracking north towards the Bering Sea and only a small area of 30-35 kt winds remaining at 33N 165W aimed a bit east of the Islands down the 312 degree path. 25 ft seas modeled at 29N 175W, moving close to the Islands.
This one is to be a bit better organized than it's predecessor, providing 48 hours of effective fetch and some of that into the real storm force category, though most in strong gale status. Still, its to be tracking right towards the Islands and moving relatively close, providing good potential for significant class surf arriving Thursday (2/8). California conversely is to be well off the main swell vector through the storms life, and quite distant from the seas this system generates. Utility class potential the best hope.
Hawaii: Expect significant class swell hitting the Hawaiian Islands Thursday AM (2/8) peaking midday with pure swell near 13 ft @ 15 secs (16-18 ft faces) from 305-310 degrees. Residual swell energy fading thereafter. Consult QuikCAST's for details.
On Wednesday AM (2/7) the residuals of Storm #15 (above) passed 1100 nmiles north of Hawaii and tried to reorganize with pressure 988 mbs. Winds of 40 kts were confirmed via the QuikSCAT satellite in it's south quadrant at 39N 155W aimed 30 degrees south of the 285 degree path to North CA (294 Scal). Nothing was aimed at Hawaii. Seas were rebuilding. In the evening winds were up to 50-55 kts terminating at 39N 160W aimed 30 degree south of NCal down the 285 degree path (294 SCal). Pressure was down to 978 mbs. Seas built to 25 ft at 38N 160W.
On Thursday AM (2/8) the low was tracking southeast with winds verified at 40 kts at 35N 153W aimed 30 degrees south of the 273 degree path to NCal (283 SCal). Seas were modeled at 35 ft at 37N 155W. In the evening the low to take a more easterly path and fade with 35 kt winds continuing at 33N 153W aimed a mere 15 degrees south of the 270 degree great circle path to NCal (280 SCal). Seas forecast peaking at 36 ft at 34N 153W.
On Friday AM (2/9) the last little bit of 35 kt winds to continue at 32N 145W aimed 15 degree off the 260 degree path to NCal (270 SCal). Seas forecast at 32 ft at 32N 148W.
This was by no means a potent storm, and in fact was mostly just a gale other than that one burst of 50 kts winds. The fetch was rather small too, but it was traveling on a fairly direct path to California and of most importance, it was relatively close to the coast (1285-1758 nmiles) significantly reducing swell decay. No fetch was aimed at Hawaii through this systems life. Given the relatively high seas and close proximity to the coast, a minimal significant class swell is expected for California from a rather westerly direction, suggesting good energy will make it into Southern CA through the Channel Islands.
North CA (centered on San Francisco): Expect swell arrival starting Saturday (2/10) around noon with period 20 secs and size tiny but building reaching 7.8 ft @ 17 secs near sunset (11-13 ft faces). Swell to peak overnight, then hold while period drops before sunrise Sunday. Swell expected at 8.5 ft @ 15 secs by sunrise (12-13 ft faces) then slowly simmering down through the day. Swell Direction: 270-280 degrees
Southern CA (Centered on Dana Point): Expect swell arrival starting Saturday around 11 PM with period 20 secs and size tiny but building. Swell to peak starting Sunday (2/11) at 8 AM through 2 PM at 3.8-4.4 ft @ 17 secs (6.5-7.5 ft faces) but possibly to 6-7 ft @ 17 at best exposed breaks (10-12 ft faces). Lesser size through sunset while period drops. Swell Direction: 281-291 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (2/8) the leading edge of a complex conglomeration of mostly weak low pressure systems was stretched from north of Hawaii into the California coast, ushering in a much heralded wetter pattern over the Golden State. But it wasn't getting much penetration, with most moisture isolated to the coast and nearby regions while the bulk of the energy remained offshore. South winds were in control north of Point Conception and that pattern to continue Friday and stronger Saturday as another wave of moisture pushes onshore. The faintest hint of a break is suggested Sunday with weak winds and a clearing pattern forecast while high pressure builds over Hawaii, ridging eastward towards our coast. Monday into Tuesday winds to be held at bay as high pressure continues to push east, not quite reaching the coast but close enough to hold a rather wet and windy pattern off, redirecting a bit north of our area permitting only fractured remnants of it to pass over our area (north of Pt Conception). A slowly building northwest wind pattern forecast Wed/Thurs (2/15) as that high finally starts influencing coastal weather.
At the surface and through the next 72 hours there were no indications of any swell producing fetch in the South Pacific.
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 a decent low is forecast to organize off Japan late Sunday (2/11) with pressure 980 mbs and winds to 50-55 kts targeting Hawaii. This low to push a bit east Monday though mainly stationary west of the dateline with 45 kt west winds continuing in it's south quadrant producing 32-35 ft seas targeting Hawaii and California, though a long ways away from the latter. Tuesday (2/13) a bit of a resurgence is forecast as the gale pushes to nearly the dateline with 45-50 kt winds forecast in it's south quadrant targeting the same sites as before. Seas building to 37 ft. By Wednesday this one to start really fading over the dateline with only 35 kt fetch remaining and seas fading from 32 ft, fading out completely Thursday (2/15). This one is looking to provide potential significant class surf for Hawaii due mainly to their relative close proximity to the fetch, with only utility class potential for the mainland. At the same time yet another low is forecast developing midway between Japan and the dateline.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.
Details to follow...
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High Noon and Low Tide: Eric Nelson has remastered this epic Mavericks documentary covering a week of giant surf leading up to that fateful day of 12/23/94 when we lost Mark Foo. See all the footage with archived and recent interviews of all the best riders including Grant Washburn, Doc Renneker, Evan Slater, Peter Mel and more. This is a must-have piece for any serious Maverick collection. Available at local surfshops. Will be coming to an on-line store shortly.
El Nino Forecast Updated: El Nino is making it's mark on the Pacific Ocean, though yet to have a major impact on the atmosphere above. Read when the storm machine might fire up, and what evidence is stacking up in favor of El Nino here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/enso/current.shtml
New Precipitation Models: Over the holidays we focused on expanding our coverage of precipitation models, and now provide high resolution coverage of all US coastal locations. You can now tell whether it will be raining when the surf is pumping, or better yet, know whether it will be snowing in the higher elevations (West Coast). Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
Weather Model Problem: The past few days the 12Z run of the GFS model has been corrupted when posted on government servers, resulting in our graphic output looking like psychedelic gibberish. This is not a Stormsurf problem and we are switching over to backup servers that are operating normally to capture the data. We have reported the problem to NOAA. This problem has been confirmed by other server users as well. We apologize for the inconvenience. Update: The problem has been fixed. Service has returned to normal as of 11/25/06.
Jason-1 Satellite Problem: On Oct 31 the Jason-1 satellite automatically went into safe-hold mode. This is triggered when sensors on the satellite detect an anomaly that suggests the satellite is in danger. It goes into a type of hibernation to protect it's sensitive instruments. JPL has been working on the issue and was able to restore the satellite to normal operations at 8:30 PM on Friday 11/17. No new data is available yet, but as soon as it is we'll be publishing it over the wave models images as usual here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_alt.html
Note: The first bit of fresh data was posted on 11/29/06 and we're processing it right now.
New Book: Inside Mavericks - Portrait of a Monster Wave: Ace photographer Doug Acton, cinematographer Grant Washburn and San Francisco Chronicle writer Bruce Jenkins have teamed up to present an insiders view of Mavericks. Read all the first hand accounts from Peter Mel, Ken 'Skin Dog' Collins, Grant Washburn, Mark Renniker and the rest of the gang as they describe the game of surfing one of the largest waves in the world, fully illustrated with the hauntingly artistic images from Doug Acton, long-time Mavericks lensman. There's even a section featuring Stormsurf! Get your autographed copy here: http://www.insidemavericks.com/
Towsurfers & Paddle-in Surfers - Participate in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The draft EIR for the new Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary management plan has been released. Public comment will be accepted until January 7, 2007. The link provided has all of the information that is pertinent to anyone wishing to participate in the crafting of the new regulations. It cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your comments part of the public record as such comments will be used to re evaluate the proposed regulations before inclusion into the final EIR. This will be the public's last and best chance to shape regulations in our Monterey Bay. If you are passionate about what you do, direct that passion into active participation in this process. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/jointplan/involved.html
Stormsurf Iceberg Breakup Analysis/Decide for Yourself: There been some debate concerning the facts around the breakup of Iceberg B15A. Here's a short exercise that helps to drive out the facts around the research: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/news/ice_wam.shtml
Stormsurf Supports Antarctic Iceberg Breakup Study: CNN is reporting the story of a storm in the Gulf of Alaska in Fall of 2005 that contributed to the breakup of Antarctic Iceberg B15A. We all know that South Pacific storms produce swells that provide surf for California in the summer, but has anyone considered the implications of what monster winter storms in the North Pacific do to the South Pacific? That is the subject of a research paper by professor Doug MacAyeal from the University of Chicago. He and his team traveled to Antarctica and instrumented a series of icebergs with seismometers to see if they could understand what causes icebergs to break up, and their findings are insightful. And best of all, Stormsurf contributed data in support of their research (and received authorship credits to boot). This is a great example of how the science of surfing interacts with other pure science disciplines. All the details are available in this months edition of 'Geophysical Research Letters' and the synopsis is available here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/science/10/02/iceberg.cracks.reut/index.html
New Stormsurf Local Wave Models: Nine months in development and testing, Stormsurf is proud to announce the release of our upgraded local wave models. More locations, more fidelity, more variables imaged including sea height, swell period, wind speed & direction, and wave height plus the older style composite images of surf height and wind all updated 4 times daily. Check them out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table