New Swell Classification Guidelines
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 (2/12) Northern CA surf was 3 feet overhead mid-day and pretty lumpy with northwest winds on the rise. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high and a little more and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 1-3 ft overhead with a little lump but not too bad. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to chest high and clean early. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high and pretty clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest high and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was double overhead on the sets and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was waist high.
North/Central California was getting the first shot from Swell #18 providing long period intervals pushing into the coast in the afternoon. Southern California was getting leftovers from Swell #17 with Swell #18 building in right behind. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting solid energy from Swell #18, with secondary energy in the mix too. The East Shore was near flat. The South Shore was seasonally flat.
The jetstream flow is in high gear fueling the development of more solid surf. Swell #18 was still hitting Hawaii and moving into California but all eyes are on Storm #19, really starting to wind up on the dateline with confirmed winds now 65 kts. This one to move steadily northeast in the next few days, up into the Gulf of Alaska by Thursday and fading into nothing. After that a much smaller storm to follow and then thing to settle down a bit, even though the jetstream is to be raging west to east and dead flat. That is to be the issue now, going from a split flow to a zonal-flat flow. At least there will be plenty of wind energy in the jet to work with. The short of it looks like more swell for everyone, with unrealized potential for more beyond. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesday jetstream charts (2/12) for the North Pacific depict a solid consolidated flow pushing dead flat off Japan at 190 kts moving over the dateline at 170 kts to 170W, then splitting with the northern branch turning due north forming a nice trough on the dateline then dipping into the Gulf of Alaska forming another trough there before meandering into British Columbia. The southern branch was almost nonexistent with a weak 40 kt flow pushing due south from the split point pushing to the equator, then heading east from there. Excellent support for surface level storm development in the trough on the dateline. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to lift northeast into the Gulf with 130 kt winds running under it, supporting storm development there while 190 kt winds build from Japan eastward pushing to and over the dateline by Saturday (2/16). Beyond 72 hours 190 kt winds to continue solid from Japan over the dateline to a point north of Hawaii and building in thickness, though not troughs capable of supporting storm development indicated. By the middle of next week a consolidated flow is to push to within 600 nmiles of Oregon with the faintest hint of a trough trying to organize just west of the dateline, offering a smidgeon of support for gale development there.
At the surface today strong Storm #19 was raging on the dateline with hurricane force winds (see details below). High pressure at 1028 mbs was anchored off San Francisco causing brisk north winds along the coast there down to the outer Channel Islands , and barely ridging west providing light trades into the Hawaiian Islands. Swell from what was Storm #18 was continuing to hit Hawaii and was starting to work it's way into California.
Over the next 72 hours Storm #19 to quickly peak out while tracking northeast into the Gulf of Alaska, serving up swell first for Hawaii and then California (see details below). High pressure is to disperse off California late week knocking the chop factor down but raising the fog factor and dropping trades over the Islands to almost a trickle. At the same time another gale is to try and organize over Japan pushing to the dateline but disintegrating all the while, being driven too fast to the east by a raging jet.
A new storm formed off Japan Thursday AM (2/7) with pressure 984 mbs and confirmed winds at 55-60 kts at 42N 158E aimed east towards Hawaii up the 307 degree path and towards California up the 301 degree path. By the evening pressure was down to 968 mbs and winds building to 60 kts at 42N 163E aimed right down the 311 degree path to Hawaii and up the 298 degree path to North CA (303 deg SCal). Seas were building from 23 ft.
On Friday AM (2/8) pressure was 960 mbs with the storm tracking northeast still producing 60 kts winds in it's south quadrant aimed due east from 43N 171E or aimed 20 degrees east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and aimed right up the 299 degree path to North CA (304 SCal). 36 ft seas were modeled at 42N 168E. In the evening this one was dying fast with 40-45 kt winds persisting at 45N 174E aimed due east or 40 degrees east of the 320 degree path to Hawaii and almost right up the 298 degree path to North CA (303 SCal). Up to 42 ft seas were modeled at 44N 175E (297 deg NCal, 319 HI).
On Saturday AM (2/9) pressure rose to 968 mbs with 40 kt winds holding at 45N 170E aimed 40 degrees east of the 323 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 300 degree path to NCal (305 SCal). 38 ft seas were modeled (attributable mostly to previous fetch) at 45N 178E. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass over the back end of this area and confirmed seas at 28 ft where the modeled suggested 32 ft seas. This is a little troubling. In the evening seas were faded to 30 ft at 45N 180W (298 NCal, 328 HI). The Jason-1 satellite made a pass just east of this area and confirmed seas generally 23-24 ft where the model suggest 25-26 ft, again running about 2 ft smaller than anticipated. Additional low pressure also moved in from the west helping to generate a small secondary fetch of 40 kt west winds confirmed near the dateline at 44N 175E aimed due east or right up the 300 degree path to NCal (306 SCal) and 35 degrees east of the 322 path to Hawaii. And another tiny fetch of 50-60 kt winds were indicated at 42N 168W aimed due east right up the 292 degree path to NCal.
On Sunday AM (2/10) the secondary fetch west of the dateline was confirmed down to 35 kts blowing from the west at 44N 177E aimed due east. And the other secondary fetch continued at 55 kts winds at 45N 168W aimed due east right up the 296 degree path to NCal. 30 ft seas were modeled at 44N 178E and 43N 163W associated with both these fetches. In the evening pressure rose to 976 mbs with 30 kt winds fading at 44N 180W, and seas fading from 28 ft in the the same place.
Moderate long period swell has been generated and is in the water steaming east and southeast bound for Hawaii and California. This in no way compares to what was generated from Storm #16, mainly because this storm system was isolated to the Western Pacific and did not make any decent headway east into the Gulf of Alaska. And the Jason-1 readings are a little bit troubling too. But given what the Pacific has been doing (other than Storm #16) this isn't too bad. And it held together pretty well, though not so cohesive towards the end of it's life. Some form of moderate sized long period significant class swell should push into Hawaii early next week and well into exposed breaks in California a few days later.
North CA: 14 sec energy to still be present Thursday with swell 5.8 ft @ 14 secs (8 ft faces). Swell Direction: 297-299 degrees
South CA: 14 sec energy to still be present Thursday with swell 2.8 ft @ 14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces). Swell Direction: 302-305 degrees
Storm #19 (Updated Wed PM)
On Monday AM (2/11) a 980 mb low was starting to build just west of the dateline with 40-45 kts winds confirmed wrapping from it's west quadrant through it's southern quadrant near 32N 175E taking aim on both Hawaii and California. Seas building. By the evening it was crossing the dateline and building with pressure down to 958 mbs with winds confirmed at 60-70 kt solid (hurricane force) at 38N 178E aimed due east or 20 degrees east of the 313 degree path to Hawaii with 50-60 kt fetch aimed directly at them, and 15 degrees south of the 290 degree path to North California (from it's south and southeast quadrants) (295 SCal). Most impressive. Seas were building from 23 ft at 33N 180W but likely much more (the wavewatch III wavemodel typically depicts it taking longer to build seas than it actually does, those this might be more a function of the weather models taking longer to build winds than what actually happens in reality).
On Tuesday AM (2/12) pressure was down to a whopping 946 mbs with 60-65 kt hurricane winds modeled and confirmed in the storms south quadrant at 38-40N 173W aimed 30 degrees east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii and directly towards NCal up the 292 degree path (297 SCal) but covering only 323 nmiles of straight line fetch aimed towards NCal. 42 ft seas were modeled at 39N 175W. Unbelievably the Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the back third of the core of the fetch and reported a 15 reading average of seas at 39.7 ft with a peak to 41 ft, where the model suggested seas at 37 ft. This is very good news with seas 3 ft better than the model. In the evening pressure was still and incredible 946 mbs with 50-55 kt winds continuing solid in the storms south to southeast quadrants aimed due east at 42N 167W mostly bypassing any route to Hawaii but aimed right at NCal up the 292 degree path (297 SCal). 48 ft seas were modeled at 40N 168W. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the very back end of the fetch and reported a 15 reading average of seas at 32.1 ft where the model was depicting 29-31 ft seas, so the storm again was equaling or besting modeled projections. Very good.
On Wednesday AM (2/13) pressure was up to 956 mbs with 45 kt winds modeled fading at 44N 165W aimed 15 degrees north of the 296 degree path to NCal (301 SCal). But in reality the QuikSCAT satellite confirmed winds at only 35-40 kts at the same location. 47 ft seas were modeled at 43N 163W with most momentum pushing towards British Columbia. This is actually higher than projections 36 hours earlier, a good sign. But of interest was that the Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the core of the fetch at 12Z and reported a 15 reading average of seas only at 39.2 ft where they should have been near 45 ft. Since we've never seen the satellite read any higher than that 39 ft number, we suspect there might be an upper limit on it's ability to accurately estimate extreme seas, and are therefore discounting it some, but it is troubling. The lower reading has been factored into the surf forecasts just to be conservative. In the evening fading 35-40 kt fetch is to be pushing northeast from 50N 153W aimed 35 degrees north of the 308 degree path to NCal (totally outside the SCal window) and focusing on Canada. 42 ft seas forecast at 48N 158W and 40 ft seas further south near 45N 157W and on the 296 degree route to NCal (301 SCal).
By Thursday AM (2/14) this system is to be gone with residual 37 ft seas at 53N 148W and 30 ft seas at 45N 153W still on the 297 degree path to NCal. Nothing to be left by evening.
This is forecast to be a very intense system with 55-65 kt winds but only holding together solidly for 36-48 hrs. And if anything, actual's from the storm are suggesting it is developing stronger than forecast even just 24 hours before it's formation. This is the first this has happened in a long time. The issue is to be it's steep northeast track, though that too is moderating some with the latest runs of the models. It's to only offer a glancing blow to the Islands and then focus on targets well east of there before any solid fetch get's traction on the oceans surface. California to be best situated, though the Pacific Northwest is to be well served too. Significant class surf is likely for the northern reaches of CA up into Oregon, but given the rather westerly swell angle, Southern California might fare OK too. Things are unfolding quite nice.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting Thursday (2/14) at 1 AM with period 21 secs and building steadily. Period moving to 20 secs with size ramping up fast by 6 AM. Swell to really start getting most solid as period drops to the 18 secs range and peaking starting at 9 AM holding through 2 PM with swell 10-11 ft @ 17-18 secs (18-20 ft Hawaiian at best spots). Solid size to continue overnight with period down to 14-15 secs by sunrise Friday (2/15) swell slowly fading from 9 ft @ 14-15 secs (12-13 ft faces) and slow fading through the day with period approaching 13 secs by sunset. Swell Direction: 321-335 degrees
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival starting Friday (2/15) at 2 AM with period 24 secs and size tiny and slowly building through the day. Swell to transition to 20 secs near 3 PM with size starting to get more noticeable but not enough to be well noticeable. Size to become very solid just after sunset and peaking near 10 PM and holding through early Saturday as period drops to the 17-18 secs range. Swell 10-11 ft @ 17-18 secs (17-20 ft faces) with sets to 12 ft @ 18 secs (22 ft faces). Size to hold well into Saturday morning (2/16) with swell still 9.5-10.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (15-18 ft faces) with a few sets to 11.5 ft @ 17 secs (20 ft) slowly working it's way down to 9.0-9.5 ft @ 16 secs in the afternoon (14-15 ft faces). The big issue will be thick fog limiting visibility and making for marginal conditions. Not safe and likely not rideable. Swell fading out overnight with sub-significant class residuals at 14 secs Sunday (2/17). Swell Direction: 288-297 degrees
Note: This swell to be powerful, dangerous and unmerciful. Do not overestimate your skills. Do not venture into unfamiliar waters. Assume you will be caught by the biggest sets in the worst possible place. Seek protected breaks.
South California: Expect swell arrival starting at noon Friday with period 24 secs and size tiny if even noticeable. Size creeping up through the afternoon into evening. Swell to start getting solid as period hits 20 secs near 1 AM Saturday. Swell to start peaking near 9 AM with swell 9-10 ft @ 17-18 secs (15-18 ft faces) outside the Channel Islands and off Pt Conception and holding close to that with period dropping to a pure 17 secs near 3 PM. Inside the Channel Islands at exposed breaks swell to be 4.4-4.9 ft @ 17-18 secs (7.5-8.8 ft faces-pushing 10-11 ft at better more exposed breaks). Swell fading overnight down to 7-8 ft @ 15 secs at sunrise Sunday (2/17) outside the Channel Islands and near Pt Conception (10-12 ft faces) and inside the Channel Islands swell 3.6-3.9 ft @ 15 secs (5-6 ft faces). Swell Direction: 294-303 degrees
Note: This swell have more power than the usual winter swell. Do not venture into unfamiliar waters. Do not overestimate your skills. Seek familiar waters.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
As of Tuesday (2/12) strong high pressure at 1030 mbs was building in strength and coverage off the coast generating brisk north winds pushing down North and Central CA beaches, imparting lump and chop to swell that is arriving at the same time. Southern CA was protected. This situation is to get even worse on Wednesday with gale force winds pushing 35 kts off the coasts of Cap Mendocino down to Monterey Bay, and 25 kts to Pt Conception. Wind chop to be tearing things apart. Southern CA to still be mostly protected, though lump from this fetch is expected to reach nearshore breaks. Finally on Thursday the high is to surge onshore, ridging into Oregon and turning the wind vectors to the offshore direction by mid-day. A light offshore winds pattern is forecast Friday fading to calm Saturday with fog likely down to Pt Conception, though Southern CA to remain light offshore and clear. A weak wind pattern is expected Sunday with a little northerly wind building over Pt Conception Monday, though most spots still to be decently clean. Beyond low pressure is to start brewing in the Gulf with a front pushing into Northern CA Tuesday (2/19) reaching as far south as Monterey Bay bringing south winds and rain.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
No swell producing systems of interest 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 hrs yet another lumbering system is forecast developing off Japan on Thursday (2/14) moving slowly east and across the dateline to at least a point north of Hawaii by Sunday (2/17) generating 30-35 ft seas focused mainly on the lower end of that scale, but moving close to both Hawaii and California offering hope for solid swell for both, though period to be in the middle ground since winds are to not exceed 35 kts in this one. This could be Storm #20. And yet another is possible behind that by Monday (2/18) off Japan. Nice pattern for a La Nina year.
MJO Note: The active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation was pushing over the Philippines and New Guinea area on Saturday (2/9) expected to seep east over the equatorial Pacific through the end of the month, likely helping to fuel some degree of limited storm development through the period. In fact, Storm #16 was like the first product of the movement towards this pattern.
No swell producing systems of interst are 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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Half Moon Bay Surfers - Attention: There¹s a movement afoot to dredge sand out of the Pillar Point (i.e. Half Moon Bay) Harbor and dump it just south of the jetty, so it will replenish all sand that¹s disappeared between the harbor and HMB. The guy who¹s spearheading the project, Brian Overfelt, has already received a positive preliminary reading from the local harbor commissioners. He¹s making a formal presentation to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary¹s advisory council this coming Friday (2/15) at Our Lady of Pillar church in Half Moon Bay. (It's on Kelly Ave, just east of the Coast Highway, across the street from Cunha Intermediate School.) starting at 9 AM. More details here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/forecast/forecast/hmb_dredge.html
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Grib File Switchover: The old grib1 format wave model datafiles that have been the mainstay of the National Weather service for years now are scheduled to be retired on 1/26. We switched over to the new grib2 files starting with the 00z run of Thurs 1/17. All appears to be running fine. There is no functional change to the content of the models, just that files we receive are now smaller due to improved compression of grib2. But this sets us up to start processing new higher resolution files and building new products in the months ahead. So in all it's a good maintenance level change.
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Bluewater Gold Rush: The first and only chronicle of the California sea urchin dive fishery. Diving, surfing, comedy, and tragedy on and under the waves of California. "A quintessential tale of California ... dramas of adventure and loss on and under the sea" We read it and it's a great story about the bloom of the urchin diving boom in the 70's and the few lucky souls who were right there when it took off. An easy read that's hard to put down. The trials and success of a 'real' California dream right down to it's core. Check it out here: http://www.bluewatergoldrush.com
Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit www.thesurfbook.com. Submit online at www.casagrandepress.com
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table