New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Tuesday (2/8) North and Central California was getting leftover mixed swell at shoulder high and chopped with north winds in control. Southern California was getting the same mixed up swell with waves waist high plus and clean but looking like wind was just off the coast with a fair amount of bump in the water up north. Down south it was about the same with waves waist o maybe chest high and heavily lumped. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the full brunt of the swell from the local storm with waves 16 ft Hawaiian but a bit raw. Trades in effect. The East Shore was getting wrap around energy from the North Shore at chest high and chopped. The South Shore is not being monitored for the winter and presumed to be asleep with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA on Wednesday is for dateline swell fading from 5 ft (faces) with local windswell also 5 ft on top. Thursday possible swell from a gale that was north of Hawaii arrives early at 10 ft fading from 6.0 ft early Friday. Saturday waves drop to 3 ft. Then new northwest local swell builds Sunday to 8 ft. Southern California is to see combo windswell-dateline swell fading from 3 ft Wednesday. Thursday new swell from a gale forecast north of Hawaii supposedly arrives to shoulder high early fading from waist high early Friday. No rideable surf expected Saturday then new local swell arrives later Sunday at waist high or so. The North Shore of Oahu is to see local swell fading from 4 ft overhead early Wednesday and maybe 1 ft overhead early Thursday with reinforcements arriving late Friday to 1 ft overhead late. Saturday local north raw windswell to be up to 15 ft (faces) and 13 ft on Sunday. The East Shore is to see more easterly windswell Wednesday at shoulder high dropping from waist high Thursday. A good amount of that local north windswell to wrap in to the East Shore for the weekend too. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
We've moved out of the favorable dateline storm pattern and are heading back into one where high pressure dominates the North Pacific with storms tracking through the Bering Sea then dropping south into the Northern Gulf of Alaska and down the US West Coast. The last storm of interest developed 900 nmiles northwest of Hawaii on Sun-Mon (2/8) with seas to 30 ft, and that swell has hit the Islands on Mon-Tues (2/8) and is then forecast into the US West Coast later in the week. Next up is a modest gale for the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska over the weekend with seas 22 ft targeting the US West Coast, and a local gale is forecast just 300 nmiles north of Hawaii on Sat (2/12) with 18 ft seas.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (2/8) the jetstream has fallen apart with only one little pocket of 140 kts winds over South Japan and the jet splitting just east of there. A bit of a trough was in the Western Gulf but has no winds energy associated with it. No support for gale development was indicated. Over the next 72 hours the big split in the jet is to become well pronounced with the split point just off the coast of Japan and the northern branch tracking northeast up into the Bering Sea then falling south some in the Gulf of Alaska forming a bit of a trough, but with no wind energy associated with it. Perhaps some support for low pressure development there. Beyond 72 hours that pattern is to get even more pronounced with the northern branch tracking up through the Bering Sea then dipping south a little into the Northern Gulf of Alaska before moving onshore over British Columbia. Continued support for low pressure development in the Northern Gulf.
At the surface on Tuesday (2/8) the Hawaiian Gale was lifting hard north and dissipating (see details below). Otherwise high pressure at 1036 mbs was just off the Pacific Northwest Coast generating north winds at 20-25 kts there and up to 35 kts off San Francisco making for local windswell. This high was also helping to set up trades reaching into the Hawaiian Islands. Otherwise there was no swell producing weather systems indicated. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to substantially weaken off the US West Coast with a light offshore flow developing through Friday (2/11). High pressure at 1032 mbs is to be building on the dateline and easing east with weak low pressure trapped below it. This is to generate a broad fetch of 30 kt east winds extending from Hawaii to the dateline and beyond by Thursday (2/10) with up to 35 kt northeast winds setting up just 300-400 nmiles north of Hawaii on Friday (2/11) producing 20 ft seas at 25N 157W into Saturday AM. Large but raw local northerly windswell is expected for the Islands through the weekend (see QuikCAST's for details).
Also a weak gale is forecast trying to develop in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Thursday (2/10) and by the evening 35 kt northwest winds are expected at 49N 155W producing 22 ft seas at 45N 155W. That fetch is to hold but loose areal coverage into Friday AM with more 22 ft seas forecast at 46N 152W. Fetch is to be gone by the evening with seas from previous fetch still 20 ft at 45N 150W. If this develops as forecast limited sideband swell could radiate towards the Hawaiian Islands with some degree of 13-14 sec period swell pushing towards the US West Coast.
A gale started building northwest of Hawaii on Saturday evening (2/5) with 35 kt northwest winds at 30N 170W and in close proximity to the Islands (600 nmiles). Sunday AM (2/6) it was easing north with winds to 45 kts aimed directly at Hawaii at 33N 168W (327 degrees) with no fetch aimed at the US West Coast. Seas building to 25 ft at 30N 168W. In the evening near 55 kt northwest winds occurred at 34N 166W (331 degs HI) with seas building to 32 ft at 34N 167W. On Monday AM (2/7) 40 kt west winds were fading at 37N 160W bypassing any route to Hawaii but generating 32 ft seas at 35N 160W all pushing towards the US West Coast (275 degs NCal). By Monday evening the gale had developed a quick fetch of 45 kt west winds at 43N 163W all lifting fast to the north getting little traction on the oceans surface. 25-28 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 38N 155W. A decent pulse of raw swell is expected for the Hawaiian Islands peaking on Tuesday AM (2/8) at 9.5 ft @ 15 secs (14 ft) from 336 degrees with utility class swell hitting Northern CA at 6.5 ft @ 16 secs (10 ft) arriving Thursday AM (2/10) from 273 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (2/8) strong high pressure at 1038 mbs was locked 600 nmiles off Oregon setting up north winds along the entire Central and North California coast pushing to 35 kts off the San Francisco Bay Area with 30 kt winds over outer waters down to Pt Conception. Needless to say - chop ruled the day. On Wednesday (2/9) the gradient is to start dissipating with a light offshore flow building in and gradually fading to calm into Saturday (2/12) as low pressure builds into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Only light north winds forecast for Sunday along the North and Central CA coast. Southern CA to remain protected. Then on Monday a new local gael and front are to be building off Central CA with south winds building into areas from Monterey Bay northward and reaching down to Pt Conception on Tuesday. Rain likely too with snow in upper elevations. In short - a big change in the local weather pattern is expected.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs a mirror image of the
storm pattern of Nov and early Dec 2010 is to become established, at least for a little bit. On Monday (2/14) another low is to start building in the Northern Gulf with 30 kt northwest winds at 45N 150W with a small local gale just off the Central CA coast with west winds to 40 kts. The local gale is to lift north in the evening setting up a continuous fetch of 30 kt northwest winds from Alaska the whole way into the Northern CA coast with 25 ft seas building up in the Northwestern Gulf at 43N 150W. On Tuesday AM (2/15) the fetch is to moves closer to the US West coast with 30 kt northwest winds at 40N 143W and 25 ft seas at 43N 146W. The fetch is to continue tracking east while fading. Suspect some degree of raw 13-14 sec period swell could result for California and the Pacific Northwest.
As of Tuesday (2/8) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was dipping down again. The daily SOI was 7.97. The 30 day average was down to 19.67 with the 90 day average up slightly at 21.20.
Wind anomalies as of Sunday (2/6) (no updates since then) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated the Active Phase of the MJO had not given up after all, but was still producing weak westerly anomalies from Indonesia to the dateline. But it was so weak as to likely have little influence on the storm track. Those anomalies are to weaken and move to the dateline on 2/10 then fade there through 2/15 while a barely discernible version of the Inactive Phase builds in the Indian Ocean. The Inactive Phase is to dissipate before reaching into the West Pacific on 2/25, with a dead neutral pattern in play at that time. Regardless, the Inactive Phase is already shutting down gale development potential now and is expected to continue through the end of the month if not a bit longer. Also north winds should start building along the US West Coast as Springtime high pressure builds-in much stronger and earlier than usual (mid-late Feb). But that could be interrupted by occasional cold bursts of wet energy pushing down the US West Coast from the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (2/7) continues to indicate that cold waters (-2 C degs or cooler) had a grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond. Colder than normal waters also were present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast and even colder ones off South America sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, only serving to reinforce what is already a solid La Nina pattern. These colder waters are a reflection of stronger than normal high pressure built in over both hemispheres causing upwelling in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America, though it looks like the upwelling effect was stronger in the southern hemi than in the north. Regardless, it looks like a classic La Nina setup.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was strong on the equator south of Hawaii and locked in position (sort of like a stationary cold Kelvin Wave). Previously this pocket was down to 7 degs below normal in mid- Sept, then warming to 6 degrees below normal on 10/18 and up to 3 degs below normal on 12/9 and moving east while not getting any colder through of 12/16. But then on 12/25 it dropped back to -4 degrees located at 120W and nearly 5 degs below normal on the 27th, expanding coverage on 12/31. With the advent of the Active Phase of the MJO in January, it seemed to be pushing it east some, with temps remaining at -4 on 1/5-1/8 but backing off and looking to be fading while pushing east on 1/10-1/17. Current data as of 2/8 suggests temps still 4-5 degrees C below normal. Not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. From a historical 'normal' perspective these easterly winds were fully anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, as would be expected looking at all the other data. And if anything there were only getting worse (on 12/31). This occurred starting in late Sept, with only normal winds indicated prior to 9/11. As of 1/29 these anomalies had backed off, presumable due to the influence of the Active phase of the MJO. But that should be fading shortly with easterly anomalies taking control.
A moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) is in control and momentum from it is expected to hold well into 2011 (and likely to early 2012). In short, it's going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance, especially in summer months. That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
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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Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
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Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop. With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the planet, all from your cell phone and all for free. No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: www.stormsurf.com/mobile
Mavericks Surf Shop Grand Opening - Sunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine! Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor. The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas. The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages. The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were replaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was accomplished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sample.
Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an accomplished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table