On Thursday (2/8) Northern CA surf was head high to 2 ft overhead and hacked. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest to head high and a mess. Central California surf was shoulder to head high with 1 ft overhead sets. Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh to maybe waist high on the sets at the best spots. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh to waist high on the sets at the best spots. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist high with rare chest high sets. The North Shore of Oahu was 2-4 ft overhead and slowly settling down. The South Shore was near flat. The East Shore was unknown.
North California was heading up with energy from Swell #16 moving in. Southern California was tiny but that to be changing with the influx of energy from Swell #16 late. Hawaii was still getting decent energy from Swell #15, but it was steadily dropping with no replacement swell in the water yet. Fortunately the Kona wind pattern is gone and not expected to return for the foreseeable future. Swell #16 is starting to hit the out buoys in California providing a bit of a burst of energy for a few days, but Hawaii is seeing the future, with declining surf and no other swell producing system out there to generate swell, so it's all downward for a little bit. Fortunately the North Pacific is not done with winter yet, and a solid storm is forecast developing off Japan early Monday pushing due east to the dateline and a bit beyond into Wednesday (2/14) providing more swell energy for all locations, though Hawaii looks to be the favorite due to it's closer proximity to the fetch. This on supposedly to resurge a bit in the Gulf of Alaska next Friday too, offering a little more for Northern CA and the Pacific northwest while yet another storm develops off Japan. In short, it looks like a bit of a break, then back to more of the same but without the wind and rain for both Hawaii and California. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Saturdays jetstream charts (2/10) depicted a moderately consolidated flow of wind energy tracking almost flat across the Pacific from south of Japan right up to Baja, but splitting right before pushing inland there. Winds were up to 170 kts in the region from Japan to the dateline, then things really backed off east of there into the 130 kt range. No major splits or ridges were indicated, but neither were there any troughs of interest. Just a moderate flat flow from west to east with no obvious major support for surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (2/13) that persistent split pattern is to re-emerge north of Hawaii, though not too strong at first. Just a gentle separation of the flows Sunday drifting east and becoming a little more pronounced each day as it moves towards California by Tuesday. In parallel the pocket of stronger energy currently just off Japan is to migrate to the dateline pushing near 180 kts centered in the bottom of a small trough there, supportive of surface level storm development. Beyond 72 hours that trough to track east but wind speeds to steadily decline, dropping to 140 kts by Thursday. At the same time that big split in the east to start pushing onshore while a new split develops just west of the dateline, not good. By next weekend the jet is to be fully split form the dateline eastward with wind levels way down over the width of the North Pacific. A little trough to be running through the northern branch through the Gulf maybe supportive of a gale there, with another trough off the northern Kuril Islands, but in all things don't look favorable at all for storm development.
At the surface today weak low pressure at 1000 mbs, the remnants of Storm #16, were positioned just 350 nmiles off the coast of Northern California driving a wet and southerly flow into the state. Moderate high pressure at 1020 mbs was pushing just north of Hawaii setting up the return of trades to the Islands. A weak gale low was trying to organize over the dateline with west winds 35 kts, but expected to fade before making any good connection with the oceans surface. In all no fetch capable of generating swell was indicated anywhere. Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (2/13) a new moderate storm to develop off Japan on Sunday AM, possibly earning the label of Storm #17. Pressure to be 980 mbs with 45-50 kts winds developing in it's southeast sector at 38N 153E aimed a bit south of the 305 degree great circle route to Hawaii and well off any path to the mainland. By evening it to be pushing east with a moderate area of 50-55 kt west winds forecast in it's south quadrant at 40N 158E aimed right at Hawaii down the 307 degree path and 40 degrees south of the 298 degree path to NCal (303 SCal). Seas modeled to 29 ft at 39N 157E. By Monday AM (2/12) pressure to be down to 976 mbs with 50 kt winds continuing at 38N 165E aimed right at Hawaii down the 306 degree path and 35 degrees south of the the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal). Seas up to 40 ft modeled at 39N 162E. In the evening things to start settling down with a broad area of 45 kts winds at 38N 172E aimed again right at Hawaii down the 310 path and 30 degrees south of the 295 degree path to NCal (300 SCal). Seas to be peaking out west of the dateline at 45 ft at 38N 169E, a decent distance from Hawaii and a very long ways from the mainland. By Wednesday AM (2/13) 40 kt winds trying to hang on at 37N 178E aimed due east or 15 degrees east of the 312 degree path to Hawaii and about right up the 290 degree path to NCal (295 SCal). 44 ft seas forecast at 38N 176E. By nightfall only 35 kt winds forecast left pushing over the dateline at 38N 175W with pressure 980 mbs and the system effectively gone. 39 ft seas forecast at 37N 178W, mostly from previous days fetch. In all this to be a reasonably potent storm with decent duration and solid energy aimed towards Hawaii. Given it's relative close proximity to the Islands, significant class swell seems possible. The mainland to be very far away through (2400-3000 nmiles) at best, meaning there will be lot's of decay and only large utility class energy, and that assumes this one forms as forecast, a bit of a reach. Will monitor.
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 took a more easterly path and faded with 35-40 kt winds confirmed at 30N 150W aimed a mere 15 degrees south of the 270 degree great circle path to NCal (280 SCal). Seas peaked at 36 ft at 34N 153W.
On Friday AM (2/9) the last little bit of 35 kt winds were confirmed at 30N 145W aimed 15 degree off the 260 degree path to NCal (270 SCal). Seas were modeled at 31 ft at 30N 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 Saturday (2/10) low pressure at 1000 mbs was just 350 nmiles off Cape Mendocino driving a wet flow and a moderate fetch of southerly winds into the state north of Pt Conception. The low to be lifting north towards southern British Columbia late in the evening while the front and rain pushes south in to Southern CA. High pressure to be trying to ridge east from Hawaii, hinting at a dryout in the making. By Sunday (2/11) the first tendrils of high pressure to be pushing into the state from Cape Mendocino southward and winds to calm down if not taking on a slight northwesterly direction late in the day (but still quite light). Another wave of low pressure to try and organize Monday out at sea pushing towards the coast late possibly setting up a light southerly breeze late, but that to fade by Tuesday AM as the HAwaiian high push hard to the east and makes it's arrival late in the day. Northwest winds to become the norm focused mainly in Southern CA Tuesday PM through Wednesday, then going back to a slack mode in to the weekend.
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 the remnants of Storm #17 are to try and reorganize in the Western Gulf of Alaska Wednesday/Thursday (2/15) but not really make it. Still seas are forecast in the 30-35 ft range initially fading fast thereafter which ought to be enough to add some additional size to the swell already in the water from it's previous incarnation west of the dateline. This will be worth watching. Also by Friday (2/16) a new storm to be pushing off Japan tracking east, but this one to be more moderate than it's predecessor with seas in the 37 ft range and dissipating before hitting the dateline. This suggests that Hawaii to be the best target for this ones swell.
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