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 Monday (2/16) North and Central California had south windswell pushing to near double overhead and junky coming from a fading gale off the coast with a bit of energy from the northern dateline region sneaking in underneath pushing 3 ft overhead. But brisk onshore winds from the west (in Central CA) and south elsewhere were making a mess of things. Southern California was doing better with solid windswell from the same gale in the head high to 1 ft overhead range with cleaner conditions up north, but a windblown rainy mess at head high and chopped into Orange County and south of there. Hawaii's North Shore was flat with no swell hitting. 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 chest to shoulder high range and choppy.
For Central California more wind and rain is expected through Tuesday, then clearing Wednesday with possible offshore winds holding into Friday before the next batch of rain and south winds move in. Junk surf expected into Tuesday then limited small west swell at 1 ft overhead expected Wednesday turning more northerly Thursday and fading before then next big blow sets up. Southern California to see some more westerly windswell on Tuesday fading on Wednesday with much lighter winds expected. New small northwest swell is expected in by Thursday and Friday from the next gale moving up to the coast, with offshore winds in the forecast. The North Shore of Hawaii was not receiving any swell on Monday, but that's to improve by Tuesday with new small swell from a little gale that was off Southern Japan Fri/Sat (2/14) arriving at 5.8 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft overhead) fading on Wednesday. The South Shore of Hawaii is in hibernation for the winter. The East Shore had some easterly windswell that is expected to fade on Tuesday. But long term this is to be the center of attention with the gale forecast off California sending all it's fetch towards the Islands for the coming weekend (2/21).
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Monday (2/16) the North Pacific jetstream was lifting gently northeast off off Japan and riding over the dateline then dropping southeast into a trough just off Northern California. Winds were up to 150 kts off Japan then very weak over the rest of the North Pacific. No clear support for gale development was in evidence but at least there was no sign of a split flow either. Over the next 72 hours through Thursday (2/19) the flow off Japan is to become energized and push hard north pushing into the Bering Sea early Tuesday reaching into Alaska early Wednesday while the trough holds off the US West Coast if not deepening. A split flow is to re-emerge with a small portion of wind energy peeling off the main flow near the dateline pushing over Hawaii and into Baja. Only the trough off California holds any hope for gale development, and that is to be limited. Beyond 72 hrs the ridge over the Central Pacific is to continue pushing into Alaska with the trough off the US West Coast almost become a backdoor trough and the split pattern become more pronounced. Even less support for gale development expected over the North Pacific, with an extremely muddled pattern expected a week out.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was 1100 nmiles northwest of Hawaii driving all east bound weather system up and over it. A gale was trying to organize over the Kuril Islands but not quite making the grade yet. Another weak gale was just 200 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino and stationary generating a fetch of 30 kt north winds aimed mostly south of any landmass along the West Coast. No other fetch of interest was in-play resulting in a pretty calm pattern overall though storm weather from the gael was affecting California in a good way, producing constant precipitation and copious snow in higher elevations. Snow line was at 3200 ft down the I-80 corridor Sun PM with snow on the ground down to 2000 ft from the cold dump of last Thurs/Fri ((2/13). Multiple feet (thigh deep) fresh snow was on the ground at many Tahoe resorts as of Sunday PM. Over the next 72 hours the gale off Cape Mendocino is forecast to move inland and dissipate early Tuesday (2/17) with fetch gone by early morning. Southwest windswell from it is to be fading. Northwest swell from a storm that was over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians on 2/12 (Thurs) is to be fading from 6.2 ft @ 13-14 secs along the Central CA coast. The next gale in the series is scheduled to develop in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Tuesday generating 35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 45N 155W aimed towards the US West Coast and dropping southeast. It's to take up a position 800 nmiles west of San Francisco Wednesday AM (2/18) with a building fetch of 30-35 kt northeast winds in it's northwest quadrant aimed best at Hawaii as it interacts with high pressure north of Hawaii. Seas to be on the increase. By Thursday (2/19) up to 45 kt northeast winds are forecast in it's north quadrant at 45N 140W with 23-25 ft seas at 38-40N 145W aimed towards Hawaii and moving towards the Islands and holding through the day. 35-40 kt winds are to continue on Friday at 38N 145W with 25 ft seas at 39N 145W aimed well at the Islands building to 28 ft at 36N 149W in the evening. Still lingering 30-35 kt fetch to continue even on Saturday with 25 ft seas pushing south-southwest towards Hawaii. Possible decent north to northeast swell to result for Hawaii if this occurs.
Small Hawaiian Gale
A gale build off Japan on Thursday (2/12) and held into the evening with up to 50 kt winds aimed mostly south of Hawaii, then it lifted north rapidly Fri/Sat with all fetch moving into it's south quadrant (up to 45 kts Sat AM). It moved so fast that little of this fetch got traction on the oceans surface. A small path of 29-30 ft seas were modeled at 32N 162E Fri AM (2/13) targeting Hawaii and continuing in the evening at 32N 168E, but then it dissolved overnight with only 26-28 ft seas being left Saturday way up at 40N 180W on the dateline all aimed towards the mainland. Minimal swell generation potential for Hawaii, with swell arriving late Monday PM (2/16) and peaking Tuesday AM at 5.8 ft @ 14-15 secs (8 ft faces). This one is to fade out fast on Wednesday.
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 Monday (2/16) low pressure at 996 mbs remains lodged 250 nmiles off Cape Mendocino driving a wet southwesterly flow at 15-20 over Central and Southern CA. It is to move inland and dissipate on Tuesday with westerly winds fading from 15 kts, even less in Southern CA and rain drying up late. By Wednesday (2/18) a new broad gale is to set up 700 nmiles off Pt Arena CA with a light if not neutral wind flow over the state, though trending towards the southeast at 10 kts into Central CA and holding Thursday. The gael is to actually retrograde (move west) Friday with offshores still in control locally. The gale is to almost dissipate more north of Hawaii than near California late Friday. Then on Saturday a new gale is to form over British Columbia sinking south with the front pushing into Central CA bring south winds and rain then wind rapidly turning northwest and fading Sunday (2/22). But rain is to hang on Sunday into Monday with snow in higher elevations. Another drenching looks possible.
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 forming just west of the dateline Thurs PM (2/19) driving a limited fetch of 45 kt north winds at 40N 170E aimed somewhat towards Hawaii, but lifting quickly north on Friday. 30 ft seas forecast at 37N 172E Friday AM (2/20) then fading fast. Limited small 16 sec swell possible for the Islands if this occurs.
Another storm is forecast forming over the Kuril Islands on Friday (2/20) with up to 55 kt west winds extending out into the West Pacific, but quickly taking aim to the north and fading late Saturday. Theoretically 43 ft seas are to result at 46N 162E aimed mostly east of HAwaii and too far away from the US to make much of a difference. Most energy to be pushing towards the Aleutians. Will monitor.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Monday (2/16) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was down to 9.13. The 30 day average was down some to 12.71 and the 90 day average was down to 12.80. The SOI indicies were all still symptomatic of La Nina but were starting to reflect the current bout of the Active Phase. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated neutral winds over the equatorial East Pacific and Central America. But a small and weak area of westerly wind anomalies associated with the Active Phase were pushing into the Central Pacific reaching tot he dateline. These winds were much weaker than previously forecast, expected to hold on the dateline through 2/20, then quickly dissipate, gone by 2/25. We are to enter a neutral phase after that with neither the active or inactive phases in control through 3/7. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next few weeks, though nothing to hurt it either. Cooler than usual subsurface waters that had pooled up south of Hawaii, which we thought might be starting to erode, appear to have made a comeback, meaning La Nina is still well in control. And this weak incarnation of the Active Phase will do nothing to help dislodge it.
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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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
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