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 Sunday (2/22) North and Central California had small totally trashed local south windswell from the gale off the coast with hard south wind and rain. It's couldn't look much worse. Southern California was thigh to waist high and lapping but with clean conditions, just background windswell for the gale off the coast. Hawaii's North Shore was small with chest high sets coming from the north and basically just windswell produced by the gale that was off the California coast with a bit of warble on it but not totally unreasonable. The South Shore was flat other than limited east tradewind swell filtering in. The East Shore was head high or better coming from the same gale off California from a north-northeast direction with wind on it and choppy.
For Central California the south junky swell with wind and rain is to continue Monday, then things to start calming down Tuesday and secondary swell from this same gale off the coast is to ease in at 6.2 ft @ 12-13 secs from 300 degrees theoretically making for some barely overhead surf. That's to be fading out on Wednesday before background and very inconsistent swell from a storm off Japan arrives for Thurs/Fri, fading out through next weekend. A south winds to be with us most of the time. Southern California to be the same on Monday, then wind turns onshore Tuesday but not too horrible and hold for the workweek. Background small northwest swell for Wednesday possibly from the gale off the coast fading on Thursday before smaller and more north angled inconsistent swell from Japan arrives for Friday and the weekend. The North Shore of Hawaii is just starting to see the beginning of north windswell, with even more scheduled late in the workweek into next weekend with winds barely turning to trades by next Sun (3/1). A bit of northwest swell is to be in the mix Mon/Tues from a gale that was near the dateline, then another swell from a storm off Japan getting more dominant on Wed/Thurs, though mostly passing by well north of the Islands. The South Shore of Hawaii is in hibernation for the winter. The East Shore is expecting to see that same north windswell as the North Shore all through the week getting sizeable by next weekend if the models are right.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (2/19) the North Pacific jetstream remained a mess with a barely consolidated flow limping off Japan then splitting with the northern branch heading hard north beyond the Aleutians and into Alaska before reversing direction with some of it heading south off the Canadian coast then pushing into North CA. The southern branch meandered east over Hawaii and then joined the rest of the mess pushing into California. There was no support for gale development other than the bit of a trough that was off Japan. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (2/25) the same basic pattern is to hold, but with the split point which was just west of the dateline moving even further west to about 155E. Not good. the two remaining branches are to be traveling parallel to the northeast with the north branch tracking into Central Alaska and the southern branch into Central CA. No support for gael development indicated. Beyond 72 hrs more energy is to slowly filter into the northern branch and it's to catch itself and start diving south again forming a backdoor trough off the Pacific Northwest on Fri/Sat (2/28) and the a real trough tracking through the Gulf of Alaska by Sunday. Improving odds for weak gale development in that trough, otherwise nothing forecast with high pressure in between the split branches of the jet.
At the surface today a gale was just off Kamchatka lifting north fast with 40 kt west winds, the remnants of a storm that was off Japan (see Japan storm below). A closed isobar low pressure system was off the Pacific Northwest generating south winds and rain for the California coast and places north of there. But it was warm core with rain reported at lake-level in Tahoe. Otherwise weak high pressure was north of Hawaii ridging west to just off Japan. A pretty quiet pattern indeed. Over the next 72 hours the low off the Pacific Northwest is to dissolve and move inland over Washington Monday while high pressure builds to a whopping 1040 mbs over the dateline through Wednesday. No swell producing fetch is forecast other than a persistent north flow coming off the leading edge of that high at 15-20 kts, aimed at Hawaii's North and Northeast Shores. Possible small windswell resulting.
California Gale - Windswell for Hawaii
A persistent gale off California retrograded (moved west) Thursday (2/19) with a fetch of 25-30 kt northeast winds in it's northwest quadrant aimed best at Hawaii as it interacted with high pressure north of the Islands through Sunday (2/22) before expected to dissipate. Seas held in the 18-20 ft range near 43N 148W pushing southeast towards Hawaii. Rideable north to northeast windswell resulted for Hawaii starting Saturday AM (2/21) at 5 ft @ 10 secs (5-6 ft faces) from 00-10 degrees and that is expected to hold into early Wednesday (2/25). .
A gale built west of the dateline Thurs PM (2/19) driving a limited fetch of 45 kt north to northeast winds at 36N 175E aimed initially towards Hawaii down the 303-308 degree paths, but quickly lifted to the north through the day Friday and getting zero traction on the oceans surface. Limited 26 ft seas were modeled at 38N 172E Friday AM (2/20) and again at 40N 175E in the evening then fading fast. Limited small 15 sec swell possible for the Islands by later Monday (2/23) if this occurs. at 4.2 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces) pushing to 5.2 ft @ 13 secs Tuesday AM (6.5 ft faces) from 305+ degrees.
A storm formed over Central Japan late Friday (2/20) with 60 kt west winds confirmed at 41N 153E extending just barely out into the West Pacific through Sat AM at 50 kts at 42N 160E. Theoretically Sat AM 36 ft seas were at 42N 156E building Sat PM to 40 ft at 43N 164E aimed a bit east of the 312 degree path to Hawaii (2100 nmiles away) and a bit south of the 300 degree path to North CA but 3300 nmiles away. Most energy to be pushing east, bypassing Hawaii but too far away from CA to be effective.
Small swell with a 20 sec period possible for Hawaii starting late Tues (2/24) peaking at 5.2 ft @ 17 secs (9 ft faces) Wed AM from 312 degrees. Swell of 4.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (7 ft faces) expected Thurs AM and fading.
Possible infrequent longer period swell to reach Central CA starting Thurs AM (2/26) up to 7 ft @ 20 secs though that seems highly unlikely, with 5.4 ft @ 20 secs (10 ft faces) more likely. Swell down to 5.2 ft @ at 16 sec (8.3 ft faces) by Friday AM. Swell Direction 300 degrees (shadowed in San Francisco)
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (2/22) low pressure at 990 mbs was centered 600 nmiles west of the Oregon/Washington border pushing modest south fetch at 20-25 kts and warm rain into Central and North CA. Southern CA was protected for the wind for now. The low is to push east on Monday with rain and south winds continuing into Central and North CA. The low to be onshore with south winds and rain gone for the most part by Tuesday AM with weak high pressure making for just a light flow of northwest winds into Southern CA. Wednesday and Thursday northwest winds to continue in Southern CA while a neutral pressure pattern and light winds continue north of there with a new low pressure system starting to organize off Oregon on Thursday and rain working it's way in to Central CA. By Friday (2/27) this low to be settled just off Oregon bring south winds again to North and Central CA and holding through the weekend. Subtropical moisture again is forecast to be pulled into Central CA on Friday making for high snow levels in the Sierra and continuing on through the weekend.
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 massive high pressure at 1044 mbs is to be in control of the Western Gulf of Alaska Thurs-Fri (2/27) then sinking south towards Hawaii setting up continuous northeast winds there at 20 kts starting Thurs AM and continuing into the weekend while slowly turning east. Low pressure falling south from Alaska is to form a weak gradient with this high off the Pacific Northwest on Friday (2/27) dropping south resulting in 30 kt north winds and 23 ft seas near 38N 143W aimed mid-way between Hawaii and California likely offering only minimal sideband swell for each. Really quiet otherwise.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (2/22) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was just barely in the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was down to 10.76. The 30 day average was holding at 14.74 and the 90 day average was down slightly to 12.31. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina with no real change expected. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated neutral winds over the equatorial East and Central Pacific with a tiny and fading area of westerly wind anomalies associated with this weak incarnation of the Active Phase sitting just above Australia. These winds were much weaker than previously forecast, expected to be gone by 2/27. Beyond we are to enter a neutral phase with neither the active or inactive phases in control through 3/13. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next few weeks. 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 and if anything are pushing warmer than usual waters back to the west. All this means is that La Nina remains well in-control.
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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Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process. Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone. Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.
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/
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table