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 Wednesday (2/23) North and Central California was getting locally generated north windswell with waves chest high and clean early but getting trashed pretty quickly. Southern California was getting wrap around northwest windswell at waist to chest high and clean and a bit lined up in the north. Down south waves were thigh high and textured, unremarkable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more sideband north angled swell with waves head high and sets 1-2 ft overhead and clean with minimal trades in control. The East Shore was getting the same swell as the North Shore at head high and reasonably clean. 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 Thursday is for north windswell at 5 ft (faces) continuing at 6 ft on Friday pushing to near 7.5 ft on Saturday. Northwest windswell fades from 6 ft on Sunday and down to 3.5 ft on Monday then near flat on Tuesday (3/1). Southern California is to see thigh high north windswell on Thursday fading to knee high Friday. New north windswell to knee high or so Saturday building to waist to chest high Sunday then dropping to flat on Monday. Theoretically south swell to waist high forecast on Tuesday (3/1). The North Shore of Oahu is to see north swell dropping to near nothing (waist high) on Thursday. Nothing rideable forecast on Friday and Saturday then possible mini west swell to thigh high later Sunday pushing chest high Monday with northeast windswell to 1 ft overhead then fading from chest high early Tuesday. The East Shore is to see waist high plus east windswell Thursday through Saturday dropping from waist high Sunday and dropping from there. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
Another small south falling low pressure system is to track down the US West Coast generating maybe 18 ft seas just off Central CA on Fri-Sat (2/26) possibly setting up sideband 12 sec period north windswell, but raw. This system is to be more of a snow producer than anything. Otherwise 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 Wednesday (2/23) a split jetstream pattern continued to control the North Pacific. The split point had edged tot he east some, mid-way between Japan and the dateline, with the northern branch then pushing hard north into the Bering Sea then slowly turning east and southeast falling down the coast of Canada and the US finally tracking east over Baja. In all there was no support for gale development anywhere but just off Northern Japan. Over the next 72 hours no change of interest is forecast other than a weak backdoor trough forecast to fall down the Canadian and US West Coasts starting on Thursday pushing inland over Southern CA late on Saturday (2/26). Cold precipitation is to be the only result. Beyond 72 hours an interesting change is forecast with the split looking to evaporate on Sunday with a single jet pushing flat east over the dateline to a point just north of Hawaii, though weak with winds not exceeding 110 kts. That same basic pattern is to hold if not make more eastward progress into Wed (3/2) but the start of what looks like a new split is to start developing on the dateline at that time. And some wind energy is to be peeling off the main flat near the Kuril Islands heading north. Regardless, the fact that the fully split pattern is to dissipate some in conjunction with what appears to be a resurgence of the Active Phase of the MJO (details below), is interesting. Still, no clear support for gale development seems likely yet.
At the surface on Wednesday (2/23) a pair of cutoff lows were positioned with one mid-way between Southern Japan and the dateline with the second over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians. Both were tracking north-northeast with fetch aimed due south towards open waters of the South Pacific with no fetch aimed east at Hawaii or US interests. Strong high pressure at 1044 mbs was in the Northern Gulf of Alaska ridging south to a point 700 nmiles west of Central CA locking down the East Pacific. In short no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours the north most cutoff low is to track into the Bering Sea while the southern one is to track northeast reaching the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians. A small limited area of 30 kt northwest winds might take aim on Hawaii on Sat (2/26) at 40N 175E generating 20 ft seas at 40N 170E into Sunday which might result in minimal sized 12-13 sec period northwest swell for Hawaii with luck. Also a new little low is to set up just off Oregon on late Thurs (2/24) forming a gradient with strong high pressure at 1048 in the Northern Gulf with the pair falling south off Pt Conception on Sat (2/26) generating 25-30 kt north winds and 18 ft seas pushing into Baja on Sunday. Perhaps some north angled sideband 11 sec periods windswell to result for the US West Coast, late in the workweek through Saturday. Otherwise, no swell producing fetch of interest is suggested.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Wednesday (2/23) strong high pressure at 1046 mbs was in the Northern Gulf of Alaska ridging south along the California coast generating brisk north winds at 20-25 kts over outer waters. But a new low pressure cell was trying to organize over Vancouver Island and expected to start falling south on Thursday, reaching Northern Oregon late and causing local CA winds to start fading later. Still north winds to remain strong (25 kts ) 600 nmiles off the Pacific Northwest coast as the local low interacts with high pressure holding in the Gulf, generating windswell. Rain expected south to Monterey Bay late Thursday with snow developing in the Central Sierra. The core of the low is to move over Central CA on Friday with rain extending down to San Diego late and north winds building back in behind it at 15 kts. Peak snowfall to occur mid-Friday. Saturday high pressure is to be taking full control with 25+ kt northwest winds in control over the entire CA coast as low pressure moves southeast and out of the picture. Light lingering snowfall possible along the coast at lower elevations on into the Central Valley early to mid-day. Total accumulations of 30-36 inches in the Lake Tahoe region. By Sunday (2/27) high pressure is to fade and winds with it and clearing. Then Monday a new larger but poorly organized pool of low pressure is to set up off California and the Pacific Northwest bringing a light southerly flow to the state from Pt Conception northward and building into Tuesday as a pulse of energy from it moves into Oregon with rain down to Morro Bay and higher snow levels. Another pulse forecast late Wednesday with higher snow levels still and yet anther behind that. Possible rain at high elevations.
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 high pressure is to evaporate in the Gulf of Alaska and
another low pressure cell is build just off the Pacific Northwest, larger in coverage but very weak in strength starting late Mon (2/28). It is to hold in some fashion pushing pulses of localized 30 kt westerly fetch into North CA and Oregon into Thurs (3/3). No seas greater than 16 ft are indicated meaning that only unorganized local windswell is likely to develop for the Pacific Northwest down into maybe Central CA, though more precipitation and stormy weather would be possible. No other weather systems of interest are forecast.
As of Wednesday (2/23) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued falling. The daily SOI was 11.77. The 30 day average was down slightly to 18.89 with the 90 day average down slightly at 21.51.
Wind anomalies as of Monday (2/21) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak westerly anomalies (Active Phase) holding on the dateline and scheduled to push east through 3/3 then dissipate. A weaker version of the Inactive Phase (Easterly anomalies) are over the Western Indian Ocean and schedule to migrate to North Australia through 3/13, then dissipate. If anything the Westerly Anomalies currently on the dateline have gotten stronger and are to qualify as a legitimate Active Phase of the MJO. This is most interesting in that we just got out of the Active Phase of the MJO near 2/10, and now are back in a legitimate Active Phase just 14 days later with no real Inactive Phase in between. And the GFS model is now depicting the jetstream to make some improvements and move back towards a consolidated flow a week out (rather than split - typical of the Inactive Phase). Maybe this is a sign that La Nina is fading out even a bit earlier than expected. Gale development potential for the favored dateline region remains non-existent, but perhaps that might change a week or so out (3/7). This would also decrease the odds of north wind building along the US West Coast as the Active Phase would suppress the development of Springtime high pressure. At this time it's just a forecast, but it has interesting implications long-term.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (2/21) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cold waters (-2 C degs or cooler) had a grip on the equator covering solidly from a bit west of South America westward 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. Warmer than normal water has now built near the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there. Regardless, the big picture still looks like a classic La Nina setup.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present, at least not obviously, with colder than normal water (-2 degs C) still holding on the equator southeast of Hawaii. But it was definitely moving east presumably forced by an onslaught of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO. In parallel warmer than normal water was edging east, now +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii under the equator. Looks like the worst of La Nina is over and maybe a more normal pattern is trying to get established.
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 during Springtime of La Nina.
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