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 Thursday (3/3) North and Central California was getting mixed northwest windswell with waves head high or maybe a foot over and pretty warbled even though winds were southeast (almost offshore). Southern California was getting the same northerly windswell at waist to chest high up north with northwest winds on it pretty early. Down south waves at exposed breaks were about the same size and weak with northwest winds on it too. Unremarkable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northwest windswell with waves 2 ft overhead but a little uneven even though it was clean. The East Shore was getting wrap-around energy from that northwest swell with waves shoulder to head high with south sideshore winds. 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 Friday is for north windswell fading with surf 3.0 ft (faces) with southwest windswell on top. Small west swell at 3.5 ft faces is expected late on Saturday with new west swell pushing 4.5 ft expected on Sunday with equal size west local windswell intermixed. Monday northwest local windswell takes over at 5.5 ft and pushing 6 ft on Tuesday while turning more northerly. Southern California is to see minimal south swell continuing into Friday at knee high or so. Saturday new west swell might reach knee high at exposed breaks late with northwest swell pushing into exposed breaks Sunday to waist high. Monday northwest swell continues at waist high and getting rawer but up to waist to chest high on Tuesday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see northwest swell fading from 1 ft overhead on Friday fading to head high Saturday with northeast windswell intermixed. That windswell to take over on Sunday at shoulder high. Monday chest high northeast windswell continues then small shoulder high northwest windswell arrives for later Tuesday. The East Shore is to see northeast windswell pushing chest high Friday. Chest high northerly windswell expected Saturday pushing shoulder high Sunday turning more northeast and fading from chest high Monday and waist high Tuesday. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
Remnants of a gale that tracked off Japan earlier in the week regenerated Wednesday and were falling southeast positioned 900 nmiles northeast of the Islands on Thursday with seas 22 ft, and are forecast to push towards the US west Coast while dissipating. Maybe some minimal sideband swell for the Islands Saturday and buried in local windswell with some energy into the US West Coast by Sunday. Also a weak local low pressure system is to develop just north of Hawaii on Friday (3/4) possibly setting up junk windswell for the weekend. The models continue to depict a gale developing over the northern dateline region pushing into the Western Gulf by the middle of next week with seas initially near 30 ft and fading to the 24 ft range. Maybe some small sideband swell for the Islands and better for the US West Coast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (3/3) the same old split jetstream pattern remained in effect with a good pocket of 170 kts winds pushing over and just off Japan, then veering hard north up into the Bering Sea. The flow eventually dropped south into the gulf of Alaska, but winds speeds were very weak providing no real support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the split pattern is to start dissipating with a trough forming off Japan and pushing east-northeast up into the Western Gulf of Alaska but wind speeds fading to 130 kts. Maybe some support for gale development off Japan pushing towards the Gulf. Beyond 72 hours an almost consolidated flow is to continue across the width of the North Pacific but wind speeds are to remain weak (<120 kts) into Monday (3/7) with a split trying to organize on the dateline but never quite fully developing. A weak trough is forecast over the Western Gulf providing some support for gale development there. A week out a strong batch of winds energy is to build over Japan reaching almost to the dateline, possibly signaling more improvement in the jet (and not split) and therefore increased potential for gale development. But that remains more of a guess than anything certain. .
At the surface on Thursday (3/3) a fading gale was positioned 900 nmiles north of Hawaii while tracking west offering only limited swell production capacity for either Hawaii or the mainland (see Weak Gale below). Another gale with up to 40 kt north winds was landlocked over the Kuril Islands (Siberia) and offering no fetch over exposed waters of the North Pacific. Weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was in between these two systems on the dateline. Over the next 72 hours remnants of the Weak Gale are to lift north up into the northern Gulf of Alaska and slowly fade offering no swell production potential. Remnants of the Kuril gale are to fall apart then try and start building over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians with a small fetch of 45 kt west winds starting to build Sunday PM (3/6) at 50N 173W generating seas to 28 ft at that location then. Most of this energy is to be pushing due east towards the Pacific Northwest down into California. Something to monitor.
A gale previous off Japan faded while tracking northeast and then reorganized on the Northern Dateline region Wednesday AM (3/2) with a tiny area of 35 kt northwest winds rejuvenating at 44N 172W with seas on the increase. That fetch built in coverage while falling southeast on Wed PM with 35 kt winds at 41N 168W resulting in 22 ft seas at roughly the same locale. Fetch barely held at 35 kts Thursday AM at 38N 158W with 22 ft seas moving to 38N 161W. More of the same is forecast in the evening with 30 kt west winds tracking west and 20 ft seas repositioned to 37N 1532. Friday AM the fetch relative to California is to effectively dissipate while the gale moves up to Vancouver Island with 40 kt south winds all aimed due north into mainland Canada. 17 ft seas dissipating at 36N 148W. If this comes to pass possible background sideband swell is expected for Hawaii arriving by Saturday (3/5) but buried in local north windswell with more direct energy pushing into the US West Coast and Northern CA from 292 degrees on Sunday (4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs - 5 ft faces from 292 degrees).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/3) modest high pressure at 1024 mbs was just southwest of Pt Conception ridging into Northern CA. A light wind flow was in control of local waters. Low pressure was 1200 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino and pushing northeast. Friday high pressure is to edge east controlling the majority of the state with north wind at 15 kts over outer waters of the Channel Islands with a light flow in the north. Low pressure off the coast is to race northeast impacting the Pacific Northwest. A light wind flow again is forecast Saturday with a small low edging up to the coast late impacting the San Francisco area on Sunday with light rain expected there and maybe 2 inches of snow in higher elevations of the Sierra. After that high pressure is to be building in strong behind over outer waters with weak low pressure falling south inland generating a pressure gradient and 30 kt north winds over exposed waters of the entire state on Monday with perhaps up to 8 inches of snow in a short burst Monday AM in the Tahoe region. Clearing to follow with high pressure and wind easing some on Tuesday (20 kts) and down to 15 kts on Wednesday. Another modest gale is to be pushing up to the Pacific Northwest on Thursday (3/10) with a front pushing over Northern CA late.
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 the gale over the Aleutians and the dateline is to hold it's
position continuing to generate 35 kt west wind at 48N 175W through
Monday night (3/7) with seas 29 ft in the AM at 50N 172W fading from 26
ft in the evening at 48N 171W. The gale is to finally start
falling southeast on Tues 93/8) with 30 kt northwest winds at 45N 165W in the evening with 26 ft seas at 46N 165W, then dissipating. Possible slightly longer period swell pushing towards the US West Coast with sideband energy into Hawaii. Another series of small gales are to be tracking up towards the Dateline-Aleutian Island intersection in the days that follow, but all are to be dissipating and never even making it to that location. No swell production forecast.
As of Thursday (3/3) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was holding. The daily SOI was at 23.74. The 30 day average was near flat at 22.19 with the 90 day average holding at 22.40.
Wind anomalies as of Wednesday (3/2) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak westerly anomalies north of Australia reaching almost to the dateline symptomatic of a very weak Active Phase of the MJO. they are to hold through 3/7 then dissipate with a dead neutral pattern forecast to follow for the length of the model run (out to 3/22). This suggests no real support for gale development through the month of March, but nothing to prevent it either.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (3/3) 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. Colder than normal water that has been locked all winter southeast of Hawaii under the equator has now evaporated and temps there are dead neutral, which is s step up from the negative temps that have dominated there all winter. . This is presumably the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO with a little more helping now. In parallel warmer than normal water was edging east, now +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator, but loosing just a little of it's punch from previous indications. Looks like the worst of La Nina is over and maybe a more normal pattern is trying to get established, but there is no sign that anything more favorable will evolve.
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 anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, but not unusually so. We actually expect more from this 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. Conversely, the tropical season in the Atlantic (2011) might be fairly active.
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