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 (2/8) North and Central California had northwesterly local swell from a gale that was off the coast 48 hrs earlier fading from it's peak on Saturday with southerly winds and local bump making for 1.5-2 times overhead raw waves. Pretty messy. Swell from the dateline was buried underneath somewhere, thought it certainly wasn't real visible. Southern California was getting a fraction of this combo swell from a very northerly direction with waves to maybe head high at the best exposed breaks in the northern counties, and maybe 1 ft overhead in San Diego and a little cleaner. Hawaii's North Shore was receiving the last of the energy from Storm #5 with waves to head high and clean. The South Shore was getting the last of the southern hemi swell mixed with east tradewind swell to thigh high. The East Shore was getting local trade induced windswell producing surf in the waist high range and choppy.
For Central California a big change in weather is forecast for the coming week, with rain currently in the forecast every day of the week except Tuesday. The hated split jetstream pattern is moving east, at least for a spell. And in it's place a trough is forecast with a series of gales scheduled to form off Washington dropping southeast towards Central and Southern CA. The first gale, really just low pressure, is in the northern Gulf of Alaska and is to drop southeast hitting the coast Monday with 18 ft seas. At the same time a real gale is to develop late Monday off Washington hitting the coast late Wednesday with 38 ft seas forming along the way. This to result in raw large swell with rain and south winds likely. More to follow. Southern California to see a fraction of the size that folks north of Pt Conception will see. with swell coming up some on Tuesday (though northwest winds and issue early) and much more on Thursday (northwest winds again), though the north angle is to really put a damper on things expect in Sam Diego. For California, the key is to be watching the winds closely and get on it during the little gaps between storms when the winds die. The North Shore of Hawaii is to be generally small all week with only a little pulse of energy coming from a gale off the Kurils late Tuesday/early Wednesday. But the pattern is clearly shifting to the East Pacific for a while. The South Shore of Hawaii is to continue getting a little pulse of background southern hemi energy, but small and fading through Tuesday. The East Shore is to probably have the best shot of surf with tradewind swell starting to slowly build Monday and continue steadily upward into Saturday.
Longer term the real story centers on the significant change in weather pattern for the US West Coast, with rain the forecast the next 7 days other than Tuesday for California. Beyond the two gales mentioned above, a third is to follow right behind forming off Washington Thursday and pushing south of even Southern CA on Saturday with seas to 36 ft. And yet another one is scheduled forming off Washington on Sunday (2/15) with seas to 46 ft following a similar route southeast. But again, all these are to be within 900 nmiles of the coast, making for raw, lumpy and unrefined swell. A series of weak gales are to also be tracking north up the Kuril Islands with seas in the 25-28 ft range, but all fetch is to be aimed northeast and well east of any path into the Hawaiian Islands, meaning low odds for anything other than minimal background swell.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (2/8) the North Pacific jetstream was tracking off Japan forming a broad trough there with winds to 150 flowing under it, then ridging hard north on the dateline almost reaching the Eastern Aleutians before diving south again into a building trough off the US West Coast. Amazingly the split jetstream that has dominated the Northeast Pacific since November is finally fully pushing onshore and out of the picture (hopefully). Decent support for gale development in the troughs. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (2/11) a similar patter is to persist, though not quite as defined, with a weak to moderate trough off Japan actually retrograding (backing up to the Asian coast) lifting into a ridge near the dateline, then falling into a decaying trough off the US West Coast. Beyond 72 hrs the situation is to get much more pronounced with stronger energy being injected into the jet. Winds to 190 kts are to be pushing up into the ridge on the dateline by Thursday (2/12) pushing 210 kts Friday and falling into what is starting to look like a semi-persistent trough over the US West Coast. By Saturday winds into this trough are to reach 160 kts but only 600 nmiles off the coast, fueling gale development there. A week out the trough off Japan is to have dissipated with the jet tracking off the Northern Kurils to the Aleutians, then again dropping down the US West Coast.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was located 1000 nmiles northeast of Hawaii ridging southeast between Hawaii and California. trades at 20 kts were being generated off the south quadrant of this high pushing towards the Hawaii Islands. Off Japan a large weak gale was present, one of several that have pushed off Asia the past week and lifting north to northeast, producing limited 40 kt fetch aimed east towards Hawaii near 40N 160E generating 23 ft seas at 38N 163E. These seas to reach 26 ft at 38N 168E Monday AM, then fade as the gale itself lifts north and fetch dissipates. Very limited 14-15 sec swell to push east towards Hawaii. All this wind energy is lifting northeast as it pushes east driven by the jetstream and high pressure north of Hawaii. then it reorganizes and starts falling southeast as the jet dives off the US West Coast. As such, the first of many low pressure systems was in the Gulf of Alaska forming a weak gradient with the high above Hawaii and generating 30 kt northwest winds 900 nmiles off the Pacific Northwest moving towards California. Over the next 72 hours the first Gulf gale is to drop southeast pushing into Central CA on Monday with 30 kt northwest winds and seas to 18 ft, making for raw northwest at exposed breaks and rain. A second gale is to form off Vancouver Island Monday PM (2/9) generating 45-50 kt northwest winds and starting to impact the Pacific Norwest coast Tuesday AM while winds hold at near 50 kts at 47N 140W aimed down the 315 degree path to Central CA and producing 32 ft seas at the same location. 45 kt wind forecast in the evening as the gale is positioned just off Washington with 38 ft seas at 45N 135W again aimed down the 315 degree path to Central CA. Fetch is to be fading Wednesday AM (2/11) with 35 kt winds forecast and the core of the gale just off the Oregon Coast generating 34 ft seas at 43N 131W just off Cape Mendocino, then moving onshore in the evening into Thursday AM. Raw stormsurf expected mainly for Oregon south into Central CA Wed-Thurs (2/12).
Note: No Jason-1 satellite data continues to be un-available while the satellite is repositioned into a new orbit to integrate with the new Jason-2 satellite.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (2/8) high pressure at 1036 mbs was north of Hawaii ridging southeast towards Southern CA but not making it while weak low pressure at 996 mbs was in the Gulf of Alaska sinking southeast. A weak 10 northwest windflow was pushing dow the Central CA coast, but calm air prevailed off Southern CA. The front associated with this gale was pushing southeast and is to reach the entire CA coast late Sunday with light rain potential late holding into Monday AM with snow in higher elevations through the day. Light winds expected for Central CA Monday early, through northwest winds at 15+ kts expected for Southern CA with the passage of the front. High pressure to move in behind this front with north winds at 15-20 kts likely Monday evening then giving way some on Tuesday in Central CA, though still likely a blowout into Southern CA. Clear skies. Yet another front is forecast pushing into Central CA Wednesday (2/11) with rain pushing south, but high pressure and north winds at 15 kts expected behind it late Wednesday but near calm in Southern CA. Lighter north winds in Central CA expected Thursday and clearing skies as the next front takes shape and north winds at 15-20 kts take over Southern CA waters. Friday the next front hits Central CA with south winds in control early but settling down fast, and calm down in Southern CA. Rain isolated to Central CA. A north wind mess is forecast for Saturday with rain for the entire state, then fading late Sunday ahead of the next local storm, forecast to be very strong.
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 another gale is forecast developing well off Japan on Wed/Thurs (2/12) with up to 45 kt winds, but it is to lift north so fast that little of this fetch is to get traction on the oceans surface with only 23 ft seas being generated relative to Hawaii. Minimal swell generation potential at best.
Otherwise the gale pattern is to continue off the West Coast. Another gale is to form in the Gulf Wednesday PM with 40 kts winds at 48N 145W pushing down the 310 degree path to North CA. That gale is to have pressure down to 996 mbs Thursday AM (2/12) with 45 kt fetch at 48N 143W with 26 ft seas building there. By evening a small area of 45 kt northwest wind are forecast sinking southeast at 44N 140W generating 32 ft seas at 45N 140W pushing down the 308 degree path to NCal. More 45 kt northwest fetch is forecast Friday AM (2/13) at 41N 135W pushing swell energy towards Southern CA.down the 300 degree path. Seas forecast to 36 ft at the same place. .Lingering 40 kt northwest winds forecast in the evening at 35N 130W (282 degs SCal) with 36 ft seas at 36N 133W on the 290 degree path to Scal, then dissipating. Unfortunately south winds are forecast for Northern CA as the storm passes on Friday then actually building to 30 kts and taking aim on Southern CA Saturday, likely making this swell a blown out mess.
And yet one more stronger system, this time a storm, is forecast forming in the Gulf late Saturday (2/14) dropping southeast Sunday with up to 55-60 kt northwest winds with 46 ft seas forecast at 43N 143W pushing down the 296 degree great circle path. A nice tease on the models but very close to shore (110 nmiles out). Will monitor.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (2/8 the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Active Phase, much sooner than expected. This is the second time in recent months that hardly any inactive phase resulted between Active Phase, giving us pause and wondering if something more interesting is in the works. The Daily SOI index was up to 30.93. The 30 day average was up some to 10.5 and the 90 day average was up to 13.1. The SOI indicies were all still symptomatic of La Nina and did not yet reflect the building Active Phase currently in-play. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated weak easterly winds over the equatorial East PAcific pushing over Central America, typical of the tail end of the Inactive Phase. But of way more interest was a solid area of westerly wind anomalies associated with the Active Phase pushing into the equatorial Western Pacific, stronger than expected. These winds are to start reaching the dateline by 2/12, holding there solidly through 2/22, then start decaying but still quite present through 2/27. This is much earlier and stronger than previously suggested and are modeled to hang there longer than usual. This incarnation of the Active Phase is likely supporting the gale pattern off Japan and should support for additional development in the Gulf of Alaska later this week and into the weeks ahead. Interesting, but some of the El Nino models are starting to suggest a tendency towards El Nino next Fall. Clearly the more-than-anticipated robustness of the MJO is possibly starting to have an effect. Extremely dry conditions in Australia and a vigorous wildfire season there are all early symptoms of El Nino. There's also remains evidence to suggest that cooler than usual subsurface waters that had pooled up south of Hawaii might be starting to erode, with a large pool of warmer than normal water sitting just west of it waiting to surge east and actually making some headway. We needs to see a real Westerly Wind Burst on the dateline from this pulse of the MJO through before we can say something is really starting to develop.
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
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Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table