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 Sunday (3/6) North and Central California was getting northwest swell from a tiny gale that dropped southeast from the northern dateline with waves 1 ft overhead with light winds and rain on top. Southern California was getting a fraction of that swell early with waves knee to thigh high and textured up north. Down south waves at exposed breaks were up to waist high and heavily textured early. Hawaii's North Shore was getting local northwest windswell and pretty much blown out with Konas in control and waves chest high. The East Shore was getting wrap-around northwest windswell energy at waist high and blown out. 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 starting Monday (3/7) is for northwest swell continuing at 5.5 ft (faces) with northwest local windswell on top. Tuesday windswell takes over at 5 ft and doing the same on Wednesday (5 ft). Thursday windswell again expected at 5.5 ft) with possible better swell on Friday to 10 ft. Southern California is to see northwest swell continuing on Monday at waist high and getting rawer but holding at waist high on Tuesday. Northwest swell fades to windswell at knee high on Wednesday then up to thigh high Thursday. Possible new swell arrives for later Friday to head high or more. The North Shore of Oahu is to see waist high mixed windswell on Monday then small shoulder high northwest swell arrives for later Tuesday. Possible decent northerly swell arrives late Wednesday to 9 ft (faces) pushing 11 ft early Thursday fading from 7 ft faces on Friday. The East Shore is to see northeast windswell fading from knee to thigh high Monday. New east windswell to chest high Tuesday fading some Wednesday and waist high Thursday and 6 inches more Friday. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
A gale was developing just south of the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians on Sunday (3/6) and is forecast to drop southeast pushing directly towards California through late in the workweek with seas initially in the 30 ft range and steadily declining as the week progresses. Possible sideband swell for Hawaii mid-week with more size for the mainland as the weekend approaches. A series of two more slightly weaker systems are to follow the same path over the weekend. And improved jetstream and slight resurgence of the Active Phase of the MJO appears to be having a much needed positive impact on gale production.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (3/6) the split jetstream pattern that has dominated lately appeared to be in remission with a fairly cohesive singular flow tracking flat from Japan over the dateline then ridging just a little in the Western Gulf before tracking flat east again and pushing into Northern California. A pocket of up to 150 kt winds were in the Western Gulf, but otherwise winds were 130 kts. What almost looked like a trough was trying to set up on the dateline. Not too bad. Over the next 72 hours a bit of a split is to try and develop on the dateline Tuesday (3/8) pushing the main flow up to the Aleutians (but not into the Bering Sea) with a trough ahead of it in the Gulf of Alaska fed by 140 kts winds moving directly towards the US West Coast. reasonable support for gale development in that trough. Beyond 72 hours a new batch of solid wind energy is to build off Japan reaching to the dateline with winds up to 170 kts on Wed (3/9) pushing to the dateline by Sat (3/12) with winds down to 150 kts. No clearly defined troughs forecast though. A dead flat jetstream is forecast by Sunday with 140 kt winds over it's width and a weak trough trying to develop in the Gulf. In all not too bad of a pattern is forecast to develop with some support for gale development possible.
At the surface on Sunday (3/6) a tiny weak low pressure system was just off Central CA making for light rain there but offering no swell producing fetch. A broad ill defined gale was starting to set up on the dateline just south of the Aleutians with a tiny area of 45 kt west winds at 48N 178W. Seas were building. No other fetch was occurring. Over the next 72 hours that Aleutians fetch is to drop south some Sunday PM at 40 kts at 46N 178W with a fetch of 45 kt west winds starting to build Sunday PM (3/6) at 50N 173W generating seas to 26 ft at that location. Most of this energy is to be pushing due east towards the Pacific Northwest down into California. That gale is to hold it's position Monday Am (3/70 but with winds down to 35 kts and seas pushing 28 ft at 47N 173W. In the evening is to regenerate some with winds up to 40 kts and the whole system is to start moving east-southeast 45N 173W with seas 28 ft at 43N 172W. The gale is to continue falling southeast on Tues AM (3/8) with barely 40 kt northwest winds at 45N 166W with 31 ft seas at 44N 167W, continuing in the evening with barely 40 kt winds and seas to 32 ft at 42N 160W (1200 nmiles north of Hawaii). Wednesday AM (3/9) the gale is to be faltering with only 30 kt west winds left and 28 ft seas at 40N 154W decaying to 24 ft in the evening at 38N 147W. Still 20 ft seas from previous fetch are forecast pushing up to within 750 nmiles of Central CA on Thursday AM. Possible slightly somewhat larger and longer period swell pushing towards the US West Coast with sideband energy into Hawaii if all goes as forecast. those sea height forecasts seem like a bit of a reach looking at the wind models.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (3/6) a tiny low pressure system was dropping southeast just off of San Francisco expected to move inland over Monterey Bay near sunset with light rain expected over the area with maybe 3 more inches of snow in higher elevations of the Sierra on top of the 6-8 inches that has already fallen. By Monday high pressure is to try and get a foothold generating brisk north winds down the entire coast of the state only to be interrupted from San Francisco northward on Tuesday as another very weak front pushes over the area early with light rain and fading northerly winds in effect. Still some brisk winds forecast over Pt Conception down into the Channel Islands. Wednesday a light wind flow remains forecast as another weather system pushes into the Pacific Northwest into Thursday. Perhaps another brush of light rain down to San Francisco Thursday afternoon. yet more low pressure system are to be queuing up bound for the Pacific Northwest with high pressure trying to build into Southern Ca and a neutral pattern in the boundary in between lined up on San Francisco through the coming weekend (meaning north winds from Pt Conception down to the Channel Islands at 15+ kts and south winds from Pt Arena northward at 15+ kts).
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 another gale is forecast developing in the Central Gulf of Alaska on Thursday (3/10) with a solid fetch of 40 kt west winds and 28-30 ft seas holding into Friday AM well positioned off the Pacific Northwest and aimed there down into Central CA. And yet on more stronger system is forecast building behind that on the dateline Thurs- Sat (3/12) with up to 55 kt west winds and 34 ft seas at 43N 180W (mid-Friday). Another mid-sized pulse of longer period swell might result. And yet one more pulse is forecast for the dateline behind that. Not a bad pattern if one is to believe the models.
As of Sunday (3/6) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some. The daily SOI was down to 4.16. The 30 day average was down slightly to 21.29 with the 90 day average down some to 21.83.
Wind anomalies as of Saturday (3/5) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak westerly anomalies north of Australia extending over the dateline symptomatic of a very weak Active Phase of the MJO. They are to hold through 3/15 then dissipate while a weak version of the Inactive Phase of the MJO builds in the Indian Ocean. But latest data suggests the nacent Inactive Phase is to never make it east to the Pacific, but is to die in the Eastern Indian Ocean on 3/30, with a neutral pattern forecast to follow through 3/25. This suggests perhaps minimal support for gale development through maybe 3/15, then likely falling back to a split jetstream pattern thereafter.
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 evaporated in late February and moved to dead neutral presumably from the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO. In parallel warmer than normal water was edging east from the West Pacific, up +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator on 3/3, but starting to loose a little of it's punch. by 3/6 those temps were down to +1 degree above normal and loosing more heat. It 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 is evolving.
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 the Fall of 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