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 Saturday (2/19) North and Central California was getting locally generated windswell with waves 2 ft overhead but mixed up regardless of the offshore wind. Southern California was getting maybe a fragment of the same swell, though mostly it looked like pure windswell with waves to waist high and clean but very short and not lined up in the north. Down south waves were head high to 1 ft overhead and clean, but not lined up and kinda all over the place. Local windswell. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more sideband north angled swell with waves to head high and clean with light trades in control. The East Shore was getting the same swell as the North Shore waist to maybe chest high and lightly 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 Sunday is for surf expected at 7.5 ft (faces). But by Monday that dissipates with no real rideable swell forecast. Maybe a little westerly windswell on Tuesday at 4 ft later in the day. Wednesday north windswell at 5.5 ft (faces) is possible pushing 7 ft on Thursday. Southern California is to see more local swell holding at chest high Sunday. Thigh high leftovers Monday and pretty much unrideable Tuesday. Knee high north windswell with luck on Wednesday building to thigh high on Thursday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see waist high leftover north sideband swell on Sunday and that's being generous. Monday possible new northwest swell of 1 ft overhead expected building to 2 ft overhead Tuesday. up to head high leftovers on Wednesday dropping to near nothing Thursday. The East Shore is to see waist high east windswell Sunday and holding through the workweek, possibly building to shoulder high by Friday. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
A series of small south falling gales are to fall south just off the US West Coast generating 20 ft seas just off San Francisco Tuesday (2/22) and then off Oregon Thursday possible setting up sideband 12 sec period windswell, but raw. Also a cutoff low is developing north-northwest of Hawaii on Sat-Sun (2/20) generating 20 ft seas but aimed a bit west of the Islands. Maybe some sideband swell to result by Monday. Otherwise, a cutoff low is forecast east of Japan on Wed-Thurs (2/24) generating piles of east winds and up to 26 ft seas all aimed at Japan. In short, no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (2/19) a split jetstream pattern was well in control. The splitpoint was just east of Japan with the northern branch tracking just off the Kuril Islands then into the Bering Sea finally dropping south over Vancouver Island and down the Pacific Northwest coast before pushing inland over Pt Conception. A bit of a trough was over the Pacific Northwest coast capable of supporting gale development there. Otherwise, nothing. Over the next 72 hours the trough off the Pacific Northwest is to slowly push east moving over the California coast early Sunday (2/20) eliminating any support for gale development over the Pacific. If anything, a large ridge is to control the entirety of the North Pacific. Perhaps another little trough is to push south over the Pacific Northwest coast on Mon (2/21) providing the slimmest of margins for gale development. Beyond 72 hours no real change is forecast with a large ridge dominating the North Pacific and if anything becoming weaker and fragmented by Thursday (2/240 event reducing the odds for gale development more. In short, nothing of interest is forecast.
At the surface on Saturday (2/19) a cutoff low was 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii generating northeasterly fetch at 35+ kts and 19 ft seas aimed a bit east of the Islands, but with sideband energy likely pushing towards Hawaii. Some windswell seems likely arriving by Monday (2/21). Also a weak 1008 mb low was over Northern CA continuing the wet weather pattern reaching down into Central and South CA, generating up to 30 kt north winds and 18 ft seas. More windswell for the Central Coast for Sunday is likely. Otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs was over the dateline and another at 1028 mbs was north of Hawaii with yet a third one between the Hawaiian cutoff low and the low over the Pacific northwest. In short, no real swell production was indicated. Over the next 72 hours the Hawaiian cutoff low is to ease east and dissipate on Sunday. Remnants of the North CA low pressure cell are to work their way into the California coast through Saturday (2/19) and be gone by Sunday. A new little low is to set up off Northern CA on Monday generating 35 kt north winds and maybe 20 ft seas on Tuesday (2/22) but aimed well south of California. Maybe some sideband windswell to result, but that's it.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (2/19) low pressure at 1004 mbs was circulating over inland Northern CA with a front pushing into Southern CA and a wet flow wrapping into all of the Golden State, though tapering off up north generating only light spotty precipitation. Temperature remain well below normal (43 degs in San Francisco early Sat). The worst of it is over. Generous snowfall has occurred at most Tahoe resorts with a storm total of 104 inches up high being reported at many resorts and Kirkwood indicating even more. A bit more is forecast too through the day Saturday just to top the tank off. The snow base is now in good shape. By Sunday a light northwest wind flow expected everywhere but then another local south falling gale is to push down the US West Coast Monday-Tuesday tracking south of even Southern CA on Wednesday (2/23). Most precipitation remains scheduled to stay off the coast (i.e. no snow). South winds the most likely result Monday in Central CA turing offshore as the low falls south of the area Tuesday then north as high pressure builds in behind Wed-Thurs north to south. In Southern CA winds to turn light on Tuesday as the low moves into the area and hold, then turning northwest on Thursday and Friday (2/25) as high pressure builds in. More precip possible for Central CA over the weekend (2/26) as another low falls down the coast.
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 another low pressure cell is to drop down the Pacific northwest coast on Thurs-Fri (2/25) with up to 30 kt north winds, stalling off Oregon on Friday, then pushing inland over North CA on Saturday. 20 ft seas to be generated off Oregon on Thurs-Fri, all aimed due south towards the North and Central CA coasts. Maybe some sideband windswell to result, but that's it. Really this is to be more of a precipitation.snow producer. Otherwise a bi cutoff low is forecast developing off Japan on Tues (2/22) slowly lifting northeast through the workweek hitting the dateline on Saturday (2/26). only east to northeast winds are to result producing up to 26 ft seas all aimed back at Japan. No hope.
As of Saturday (2/19) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was still high but falling some. The daily SOI was 28.92. The 30 day average was up to 19.09 with the 90 day average up slightly at 22.05.
Wind anomalies as of Friday (2/18) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak westerly anomalies (Active Phase) on the dateline and scheduled to push east through 2/28 then dissipate. An even weaker version of the Inactive Phase (Easterly anomalies) are to migrate from the Indian Ocean to North Australia through 3/10, then dissipate. in both instances the anomalies are to be very weak meaning essentially a neutral pattern was in control with neither the Active Phase nor the Inactive of the MJO having any real influence. No change is forecast through 3/10. Of some note: it is interesting that the Active Phase (westerly anomalies) are even present at all. The inactive Phase should be in control with easterly anomalies the only thing on the charts. Maybe this is a sign that La Nina is fading out even a bit earlier than expected. But given the massive split in the jetstream, some bias towards the Inactive Phase is most likely, regardless of the models. Gale development potential for the favored dateline region is non-existent and expected to continue through the end of the month and well into March now. Also north winds should start building along the US West Coast as Springtime high pressure builds-in (maybe 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 (2/17) is unchanged and 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 2/19 suggests temps down to only 2 degrees C below normal and tracking east into Ecuador. Looks like the worst of La Nina is over.
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.
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
Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look: http://www.buellwetsuits.com/
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