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 Tuesday (2/10) North and Central California had northwesterly local windswell from a gale that was off the coast Monday. Surf was 1.5-2 times overhead and raw. Southern California was getting this same windswell with cleaner conditions and waves head high and occasionally a little more at the best breaks. Hawaii's North Shore was receiving a new pulse of limited swell energy originating from a gale that was across the dateline with waves head high to 1 ft overhead and glassy conditions. The South Shore was flat other than limited east tradewind swell filtering in. The East Shore was getting local trade induced windswell producing surf in the head high range and choppy.
For Central California the big change in weather is already taking shape and expected to only get more pronounced (i.e. worse) as the week progresses with wind, rain and windswell expected. Up at the jetstream a trough was digging out ushering in a series of gales scheduled to drop from off Washington southeast into Central and Southern CA. The first in this series developed Monday off Washington and is expected to hit the coast late Wednesday with 35 ft seas forming along the way. This to result in raw large swell with rain and south winds likely. A second is to follow right behind forming off Washington Thursday and pushing into Southern CA on Saturday (2/14) with seas at 23-25 ft. And yet another one is scheduled forming off Washington on Sat/Sun (2/15) with seas to 26 ft following a similar route. Southern California to see a fraction of the swell from all the above systems along with the wind and rain. The key is to watch the wind models closely and try to get something during the little gaps between storms when the winds die. But mountains of residual lump are to be expected. The North Shore of Hawaii is receiving a little pulse of energy coming from a gale that was off the Kurils. That swell to hold in some rideable form through Saturday (2/14) then die out as the focus turns solidly to the Northeast Gulf of Alaska, essentially out of the Hawaiian swell window. The South Shore of Hawaii is going back into hibernation with no change forecast. The East Shore has easterly windswell that is only expected to grow, peaking out over the coming weekend (2/14).
Longer term the story continues to focus on the building trough off the US West Coast. A strong storm is forecast forming off Washington on Sunday (2/15) dropping southeast with seas to 45 ft Monday PM 800 nmiles off Cape Mendocino. But winds and rain to be impacting the California coast and the system pushes southeast. Again, good for snow pack, but not so much for quality surf.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (2/8) the North Pacific jetstream was tracking off Japan but not well defined with a pocket of energy to 140 kts, then ridging some on the dateline and faintly splitting before forming a trough over the Pacific Northwest and consolidating over Northern Baja. There was limited support for gale development off Japan and again off the Pacific Northwest, but nothing noteworthy. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (2/13) much more energy is to get injected into the flow with the Japan trough deepening and 190 kts winds flowing from there up over the dateline feeding into a building trough off the US West Coast. Things to start getting pronounced by Thursday in the Northeastern Gulf with gale development very likely. Beyond 72 hrs the situation is to amplify a bit more focused on the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with near 190 kts winds pushing into the West Coast trough on Saturday (2/14) with the trough pushing into Southern CA on Monday while a new trough starts building in the Northern Gulf and dropping south into Wednesday (2/18). Good support for gale to storm development in both troughs during this time frame. In the West the jet is to be pushing north and totally landlocked over Kamchatka and the Aleutians offering no support for gale development.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs remains locked 1000 nmiles northeast of Hawaii ridging southeast between Hawaii and California generating trades at 20 kts off the south quadrant of this high pushing towards the Hawaii Islands. Off Japan a weak gale was tracking east, with no fetch of interest and none expected as it gets sucked northeast fast by the jet. A previous incarnation of a similar gale Saturday (2/7) produced limited 40 kt fetch aimed east towards Hawaii near 40N 160E generating 23-26 ft seas near 38-40N 165E, but lasted only 24 hrs. Very limited 14-15 sec swell has push east towards Hawaii and is hitting now. Mainly any energy pushing off Asia was being driven northeast by the jetstream, lifting over the high pressure system north of Hawaii and bound to dive southeast off the US West Coast. The second in the series formed off Vancouver Island Monday PM (2/9) generating 40 kt northwest winds and starting to impact the Pacific Northwest coast Tuesday AM while winds held at 45 kts at 47N 140W aimed down the 315 degree path to Central CA and producing 28 ft seas at the same location. 45 kt wind forecast in the evening with the gale positioned just off Washington with 35 ft seas at 45N 133W 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 32 ft seas at 43N 130W 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).
Over the next 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 25 ft seas being generated relative to Hawaii at 35N 165E. 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 30 kts northwest winds at 50N 145W pushing down the 310 degree path to North CA. This gale is to have pressure only down to 1008 mbs Thursday AM (2/12) with 35 kt fetch at 47N 135W with 20 ft seas building there. By evening a small area of 40 kt northwest wind are forecast sinking southeast at 45N 133W generating 25 ft seas at 45N 133W pushing down the 315 degree path to NCal. More 35 kt northwest fetch is forecast Friday AM (2/13) at 41N 130W pushing swell energy towards Southern CA.down the 305 degree path. Seas forecast to 28 ft at the same place. Lingering 35 kt northwest winds forecast in the evening at 39N 125W pushing directly over Pt Arena with 26 ft seas impacting the coast there. Wind and rain are to be impacting North & Central CA as the gale moves inland late Friday likely making this swell a blown out mess. Swell to be too north for anywhere south of San Francisco.
Note: 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 Tuesday (2/10) high pressure at 1032 mbs was north of Hawaii trying to ridge southeast towards Central CA and just barely making it generating 20 kt northwest winds down the Central and Southern CA coasts. Low pressure at 984 mbs, the next gale in the series, was off Central Canada dropping southeast. The front from this system is forecast pushing into Central CA late Tuesday/early Wednesday (2/11) with rain pushing south, but high pressure and north winds at 15-20 kts expected behind it late Wednesday into early Thursday. Yet another gale is to be queued up behind on Thursday with it's front hitting Central CA Thursday PM (2/12) with brisk northwest winds 20 kts take over Southern CA waters Friday AM. The next front hits Central CA with south winds in control early Saturday moving into Southern CA late that evening on into Sunday. Central CA might get a winds break on Sunday, but the next system is to be building behind, hitting with vengeance Monday evening reaching southern CA Tuesday AM (2/17). Rain and winds with all these. Take what we can get cause we need the moisture.
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 yet one more broader but not necessarily stronger system is forecast forming off Washington Saturday AM (2/14) with 35-40 kt northwest winds at 45N 140W (305 degs relative to Central CA) dropping southeast though the evening with seas to 26 ft at 43N 137, then fading Sunday AM with 30 kt northwest winds and 26 ft seas forecast at 37N 134W pushing down the 290 degree great circle path into Central CA. A nice tease on the models for CA, but very close to shore (600-700 nmiles out). Weather likely to be a very real impact on whatever swell results.
Longterm on the charts a strong storm is forecast forming in the Western Gulf of Alaska Sunday with 60-65 kt northwest winds at 49N 160W aimed a bit south of the 306 degree path to Central CA and sinking southeast by evening with 55 kt winds holding at 47N 152W. 35 ft seas forecast at 47N 152W. Monday AM (2/16) a most solid fetch of 55 kt northwest winds to be holding at 45N 145W 1000 nmiles from Central CA and aimed down the 302 degree great circle path generating 43 ft seas at 45N 145W pushing down the same heading. By evening fetch is to be fading from 45-50 kts with 45 ft seas forecast at 42N 141W (296 degs CCal and 300 SCal). A quick decay is forecast Tuesday AM (2/17) with the gale holding it's position and barely 45 kt north winds forecast at 43N 148W with 39 ft seas pushing hard to the southeast from 37N 140W. The bulk of the size to pass south off the coast of California with copious rain and wind a likely issue for most breaks.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (2/10) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Active Phase. This is the second time in recent months that hardly any inactive phase resulted between Active Phase, giving us reason to be interested in long term prospects. The Daily SOI index was down to 25.94. The 30 day average was up some to 11.59 and the 90 day average was up to 13.45. 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. 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 3/1. 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 a gale pattern previously off Japan and should support for additional development in the Gulf of Alaska 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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table