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 (3/1) North and Central California were receiving tiny background energy from off Japan in the waist to chest high range with winds still somewhat offshore, though trending towards the south. Southern California was getting a little of this same swell with waves thigh high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting and mix of north swell and windswell coming from low pressure that was off California, but mostly from high pressure north of the Islands. Waves were 2 ft overhead at the better breaks. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was 2-3 ft overhead coming from the same high pressure-gale combination as the North Shore but with more wind on it and choppy.
For Central California south windswell is to take over with perhaps a little background northwest swell intermixed on Monday. Tuesday into Wednesday that northwest swell is to build though the exact size is hard to determine given the fetch is just getting organized now directly off the coast. South wind a likely issue regardless. That northwest swell is to be fading after that. Southern California to see some of the same limited northwest swell starting Tuesday and coming up some Wednesday, then fading after that. The North Shore of Hawaii is to start heading down with north windswell providing something to ride Monday, then noticeably dropping out Tuesday. Another pulse is expected in on Wednesday then heading down after that into the flat territory. The South Shore of Hawaii is in hibernation for the winter. The East Shore is expecting to see more of that same north windswell, heading down Mon and Tues then pulsing some on Wednesday before dropping out with short period east windswell to follow.
Longerterm strong high pressure has a hold of the majority of the North PAcific centered north of HAwaii and is to slowly push east and fade while suppressing storm development. There possibilities another weak gale might form in the Northern Gulf of Alaska a week out (3/8) targeting the Pacific Northwest, but at this early date that's all pure speculation. At this point we'd suggest you make use of every drop of swell you can get over the next few days, because after that things do not look promising.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (3/1) the North
Pacific jetstream was heavily split with the split point just off Japan at 145E with the northern branch arching through the Bering Sea at 140 kts then dropping hard south into the Eastern Gulf of Alaska forming a steep trough off Central CA.. The southern branch tracked mostly flat over the dateline and Hawaii meeting up with the northern branch off California, merging with it and pushing inland into North CA. Only the trough off California held any potential to support gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (3/4) the same basic pattern is to hold, but with the whole thing shifting slightly to the east with the trough just 300 nmiles off North CA and the split point in the west moving east towards the dateline. Almost a trough is to be forming off the Kuril Islands. Beyond 72 hrs things are only to get worse with energy levels dropping dramatically and the split point unzippering all the way to Japan with two weak flat flows pushing parallel across the North Pacific with no troughs indicated. High pressure is the likely result between these split streams.
At the surface today strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was locked-in 1300 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii ridging north into the Bering Sea and south to Hawaii forming a virtual blockade against any gale trying to move east off Siberia. A solid gale was centered 800 nmiles west of Oregon producing fetch of interest to the US West Coast (details below) and also interacting with the high north of Hawaii generating a broad fetch of north winds at 25-30 kts aimed reasonable well at the Hawaiian Islands and starting to generate seas in the 20-22 ft range. North swell is expected to push south into the Islands Tuesday (3/2) at 8 ft @ 13 secs (10 ft faces) from 25 degrees. No other fetch was occurring in the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours that high pressure system is to mostly hold it's strength while drifting east continuing a steady flow of 20-25 kt northeast to east winds pushing reasonably into the Hawaiian Islands and generating shorter period easterly windswell along east facing shores. The gale off Oregon is to peak out late Sunday then slowly fade, but never moving much and instead just sending a steady stream of winds and rain into the coast. It is to finally dissipate off Cape Mendocino late Wednesday (3/4).
On Saturday (2/28) a gale was building 700 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino lifting slowly to the north. By evening pressure was 982 mbs with a small fetch of 50 kt north winds confirmed just north of Buoy 46006. Seas peaked there at 32.8 ft with swell 27 ft @ 14 secs at 3 AM Sunday.
Sunday AM (3/1) the gale was holding with the QuikSCAT satellite confirming more 45-50 kts winds in-place over a small area at 42N 137W this time wrapping into the gales south quadrant and aimed far better at the Oregon and Central CA coast (296 degrees). Buoy 46006 was just southeast of this fetch, perfectly positioned to report on any swell that was being generated. Swell as 21.7 ft @ 14.1 secs with seas to 26 ft. This is to be the first pulse of the swell. By evening this fetch is to be fading (in the gales south quadrant) while a new broader fetch of 40-45 kt north winds builds at 43N 140W getting traction on an already agitated ocean surface. 26 ft seas forecast at 41N 139W aimed mostly south (290 NCal).
Monday AM (3/2) this fetch is to start dissipating from 40 kts at 46N 137W (310 degrees NCal) with 30 ft seas from previous fetch at 43N 142W (297 NCal). Swell is to be pushing mostly south with sideband energy pushing towards the Central and South CA coasts. In the evening yet more 40 kt fetch is forecast way up north at 48N 136W with residual 30-35 kts fetch south at 37N 138W aimed at Southern CA down the 290 degree path. 32 ft seas forecast at 38N 140W aimed down the 296 degree path to Southern CA and somewhat bypassing the 292 degree path to Central CA.
Tuesday AM (3/3) on last little patch of 40 kt northwest fetch is forecast at 47N 135W aimed well down the 315 degree path to NCal. 30 ft seas are forecast at 45N 135W pushing southeast. By evening 30 kt northwest winds are to be fading fast with 26 ft seas at 43N 135W, just above buoy 46006.
This is to be a very local system relative to North and Central CA just 600-800 nmiles out. That along means whatever swell is generated will be a jumbled mess. On top of that there is to be brisk to hard southwest winds bowing into the coast all day Monday and Tuesday affecting from Pt Conception northward, so lot's of raw lump will be in the water And even worse is that much of the fetch is to be aimed either well south of the Central CA coast, or if it is aimed at the coast, it will be from a rather north angle putting it in the swell shadow relative to the San Francisco Bay area. In all, whatever swell results will be very raw and unorganized. On the plus side, there will be swell, and there certainly isn't anything expected behind it any time soon.
Either way a variety of mixed swell should start arriving in San Francisco starting Monday morning and continuing into Wednesday. Exact details are almost pointless because each of at least three separate swell trains will all be overlapping each other, and mostly pushing well south of the area. ASsuming all of it were to hit rough data suggests pure swell of 9-10 ft @ 14-16 secs (12-15 ft faces) from each at exposed unshadowed breaks Monday afternoon through Wednesday AM from 296-310 degrees.
Assuming all the energy were to push into Southern CA, it would hit starting Monday late afternoon and continuing through Wednesday afternoon with swell 4.3-4.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (6.5-7.6 ft faces) coming from 297-310+ degrees. But the vast majority of this is to bypass the coast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (3/1) a gale low was 700 nmiles off the coast of North California. The models previously indicated strong south winds and rain impacting the coast, but that was hardly the case in the SF Bay area. Latest data suggests this is to be coming by late afternoon to early nightfall at the latest. Satellite imagery depicted a well defined front pushing down the coast with the leading edge of the core precipitation still a little north of the Bay Area. And it was tapping subtropical moisture all the way back to Hawaii. A warm core system for sure. By Monday (3/2) the next front and reinforcing south winds are to push south down the Central CA coast but not reaching Southern CA, with high pressure just barely protecting the coast there. Off and on rain Monday working it's way into Southern CA Yet more southwest winds and another pulse of rain is expected to hit Central CA Tuesday with the core of the low still lingering off Oregon. No rain for SCal though. Finally on Wednesday the low is to dissipate off Cape Mendocino though southwest winds at 10 kts and intermittent rain to continue from Pt Conception northward. A light to calm windflow is expected on Thursday with perhaps some shower in the Pt Conception area. Then high pressure is to build in on Friday up north pushing south brining north winds to North and Central CA by mid-day and pushing precipitation into Southern CA. North winds continuing into Saturday and extending into Southern CA with drying conditions, then wind fading Sunday.
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 there suggestions of a gale forming in the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska next weekend (3/7) generating 25 ft seas, but mostly pushing into the north Canadian coast. Of more interest is a recent hint of a gale forming on the dateline Friday (3/6) producing up to 38 ft seas at 38N 176E aimed well at both Hawaii and the US West Coast, but only providing 24 hrs of decent fetch. Odds very low of this occurring given the state of the jetstream.Will believe it when it happens. no other fetch is forecast.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (3/1) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was down to -10.44, the lowest in months. The 30 day average was down to 15.0 and the 90 day average was down slightly to 11.49. 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 light east winds extending from the dateline east to Central America indicative of the inactive Phase of the MJO. West winds were starting to build over the Indian Ocean, indicative of the next incarnation of the Active Phase of the MJO. Beyond the east winds/Inactive Phase is to fade out by 3/7 with the Active Phase/west winds starting to build in by 3/10, limping to the dateline by 3/15, then slowly fading there. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next two weeks and then after that, only marginal additional support for gale development. 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