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 Tuesday (2/24) North and Central California had a new pulse of local swell generated off Oregon on Monday from a gale with near 20 ft seas. So the swell was a bit unorganized and warbled, but at least it was rideable with generally light to modest northwest winds. Southern California wasn't getting this swell yet with only weak and windy surf in the thigh high range hitting up north and a little cleaner down south. Hawaii's North Shore was getting some decent north swell pushing 3-4 ft overhead on the sets coming from a gale that was off California days before but also some wind warble out of the north with trades not quite there yet. Longer period energy from Japan was starting to show late too at the buoys. The South Shore was flat other than limited east tradewind swell filtering in. The East Shore was 2-3 ft overhead coming from the same gale off California from a north-northeast direction with wind on it and choppy.
For Central California the northwest local swell is to still be in-place Wednesday but fading before inconsistent swell from a storm that was off Japan over the weekend arrives on Thursday into Friday then fading out through next weekend. South winds to be and issue Wed into early Thurs though. Southern California to see some background small northwest swell for Wednesday from the same gale that made surf in Central CA Tues. That swell to be 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 to continue seeing north to northeast windswell. But intermixed is to be a decent pulse of swell from a storm that was off Japan last weekend arriving for Wed and Thurs, though mostly energy is to pass well north of the Islands. The South Shore of Hawaii is in hibernation for the winter. The East Shore is expecting to see more of that north windswell, peaking Fri-Sun (3/1).
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (2/24) the North Pacific jetstream was heavily split with the split point just off Japan with the northern branch tracking over the Aleutians on up into Alaska and the southern branch running flat over the dateline and Hawaii then into Southern CA, but with 1/3rd the energy of the northern branch. There was no support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (2/27) the same pattern is to hold, but with more energy moving into the northern branch with it dropping south from Alaska forming a backdoor well off the Pacific Northwest and offering a small area for potential gale development there affecting both the US West Coast and Hawaii. Beyond 72 hrs a massive split pattern is forecast with high pressure the likely dominant force north of Hawaii with a steep trough trying to push directly down and over the US West Coast offering the potential for local weather and rain, but little hope fro meaningful swell development.
At the surface today strong high pressure at 1040 mbs was building over the dateline and inching east, blocking the usual North Pacific storm corridor. A gale was trying to track east off Kamchatka but was getting shunted northeast by this strong high pressure system in front of it and was bound for the Bering Sea, totally landlocked relative to the North Pacific. No other weather systems of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours that high pressure system is to build to an unbelievable 1048 mbs by late Thursday (2/26) sitting right in the middle of the Western Gulf of Alaska and continuing the blockade. The high is to generate a steady stream of north winds at 20-25 kts pushing south aimed directly at Hawaii and likely fueling the development of more northerly windswell along exposed north and east facing shores. That in combination with a weak low pressure system that is to build well off the California coast Sat/Sun (3/1) might help fuel a pressure gradient as it interacts with this high pressure system, producing 35 kt northeast winds aimed at Hawaii and possibly setting up yet more northeasterly proto-swell, bound into the Islands for by Sunday (3/1). Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast.
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. The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas of 39.1 ft with a max reading of 41.3 ft at 39.4N 152.9E while the models suggested only 32 ft seas at that same location. Sea were modeled 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. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the SE sector of this fetch and confirmed seas of 36.1 ft with a peak to 39.7 ft where the model suggested only 32 ft seas, so the models were under-calling this one. Most of that energy was pushing east, bypassing Hawaii and too far away from CA to be effective. Sunday AM (2/22) the satellite made another successful pass and reported seas of 36.8 ft with a peak to 40.4 ft at 44N 169E where the model was expecting only 35 ft seas.
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.
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 Tuesday (2/24) a near neutral pressure pattern was in control of the California coast. Light northwest winds were blowing over exposed waters. Wednesday and Thursday weak high pressure at 1020 mbs is to be just off Southern CA setting up northwest winds there, then clearing out by Friday with light winds everywhere. Light rain possible from Monterey northward on Thursday, but clearing Friday. Saturday a new local low pressure system is to start building off San Francisco with southeast winds building in strong and rain by evening. Wind turning south by Sunday and chopping everything up while the core of the low lifts north along the Pacific Northwest coast. Rain pushing south to Southern CA. By Monday a front is to push into Central CA with south winds dissipating and the low dissolving as it pushes inland over British Columbia. Rain south to Pt Conception and into SCal by Tuesday (3/3). And another low is forecast building off Northern BC Tuesday as high pressure and 15 kt northwest winds take over the Central CA coast, but not reaching Southern CA.
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 1040 mbs is to remain in-control of the Western Gulf of Alaska into Tuesday (3/3) positioned 900 nmiles north of Hawaii and 1800 nmiles west of San Francisco pushing 20 kt northeast winds into the Islands and getting dangerously close to the US West Coast. Possible weak low pressure is to set up on it's leading edge pushing into the Pacific northwest on Tues (3/3) possibly generating 35 kt north fetch and 20 ft seas off the coast bound for Central CA, but that is a long ways off yet. In all very quiet.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (2/24) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was up to 20.17. The 30 day average was up to 15.79 and the 90 day average was down slightly to 12.17. 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 entire Pacific. Beyond we are to remain in a neutral phase with neither the active or inactive phases in control through 3/17. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next few weeks. Cooler than usual subsurface waters were pooled up south of Hawaii and not giving an inch. 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