On Tuesday (3/13) Northern CA surf was chest to head high and weak. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to waist high. Central California surf was up to chest high at the best spots. Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was flat, except some thigh high waves at exposed south facing breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to near chest high on the sets at the best breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were chest to head high. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was thigh high. The East Shore was waist high.
North/Central California was weak but rideable if you know where to go. Southern California was getting a nice little early season pulse of southern hemi swell at select breaks. Hawaii was flat both north and south. Hopes were high for what was to be Storm #18, but reality has intervened and something far less materialized, with no significant class swell expected to result, even for Hawaii. Instead large utility class is to be the most that can be expected there, with only minimally rideable surf for exposed breaks in California. Fortunately the models are teasing us again starting late this week and continuing into the next. Whatever results should be taken seriously only in so far as it's highly likely it will be the last gasp of the season. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (3/13) depicted a reasonably decent and cohesive flow of winds pushing east over Southern Japan at 170 kts making it 2/3rds of the way to the dateline, then splitting with a weak bit of energy ridging north well into the Bering Sea while the bulk of the flow continue east over the dateline flowing into t a little trough north of Hawaii. That energy then rose northeast a little and joined the Bering Sea energy in the Central Gulf of Alaska pushing firmly at 130 kts into Washington. Best area for gale development was over the Kuril Islands, supported by the strong cohesive flow to the south of it. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (3/16) the split flow arching over the Bering Sea to continue but with the split point pushing to maybe the dateline, but energy levels in the jet falling. The flow into the northern branch over the Bering Sea is to actually back off a little more, but not enough yet to whither away. A but of a trough to set up in the Western Gulf on Friday, but the jet to be splitting under it limiting whatever support for storm development tries to develop there. Beyond 72 hours a stronger pocket of energy is to reappear off Japan reaching the whole way to the dateline, then pushing up into the Gulf of Alaska and splitting but only slightly. Theoretically this looks better than anything we've seen in weeks, but is likely just a model anomaly.
At the surface today the remnants of the Hawaiian utility class storm were positioned north of the Islands with pressure 992 mbs and winds only 20-25 kts pushing towards the North Shore. It was effectively only a weak windswell producer at this point. Otherwise a mild high pressure pattern was off the California coast at 1024 mbs and diffuse, effectively doing nothing. Another broad but diffuse low was over the Kuril Islands wit maybe 25 kt west winds blowing over Japan out into the Pacific. In all no swell producing fetch was indicated. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (3/16) the Hawaiian low is to dissipate while being stretched northeast into the Gulf pushing towards British Columbia while high pressure gets a better foothold off California pushing inland over Oregon. Theoretically low pressure currently over the Kuril Islands is to deepen late Wednesday (3/14) to 984 mbs while lifting northeast almost making it to the dateline with 45 kt northwest winds developing in it's south quadrant near 37N 165E peaking Thursday AM at 50-55 kts at 40N 172E all aimed over an arch towards Hawaii down the 310-312 degree paths. Seas building from 29 ft Thursday AM to 37 ft that evening at 39N 175E. The low to hang stationary there through Friday producing more 40-45 kt westerly winds at 40N 172E aimed more towards North CA about 25 degree south of the 296 degree route and 20 degree east of the 312 degree path to Hawaii. 32-35 ft seas to persist on Friday, then fade out late. Some form of decent utility class swell seems likely for the Islands with period in the 16-18 sec range Sun/Mon (3/19), with much less energy pushing towards California, and far from guaranteed at this time.
Utility Class Gale - Formally Storm #18 (Hawaii)
A small storm developed over the dateline early Sunday (3/11). Winds were estimated at 45 kts at 33N 179E over a moderate area aligned mostly north south and aimed 30 degrees south of the 305 degree great circle route to Hawaii, with nothing aimed at California. Seas were building. In the evening winds were confirmed at 55 kts at 33N 177W aimed more to the east or right down the 310 degree path to Oahu and 45 degrees south of the 282 degree path to NCal (287 SCal). Seas built to 25 ft at 33N 175E.
On Monday AM (3/12) the system totally faded with only 35 kt winds modeled in the storms south quadrant at 33N 172W aimed due east or 35 degrees east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and 15 degrees south of the 282 degree path to NCal (287 SCal). Seas built to 30 ft at 32N 177W. In the evening this system was gone with barely 30 kts winds remaining at 30N 168W aimed 40 degrees east of the 328 degree path to the Islands and 15 degrees south of the 279 degree path to NCal (285 SCal) and fading. 29 ft seas were modeled at 30N 172W and fading fast.
This storm will be a decent swell producer for Hawaii mainly attributable for it's close proximity (1000 nmiles) and the fact that it's peak winds to be aimed right at them. But the big problem is it was much weaker than originally anticipated. Of course the big issue with this sort of configuration is that the resulting swell with be lumpy and raw given the fact the lesser period components won't have time to decay away and the high probability the the associated front from this system will push over the Islands dragging unfavorable winds with it (which appears to be the case). So the swell will be rather raw with only a moderate period (14-14 secs). Conversely California to be much further away so whatever swell will be well groomed upon arrival, but the strongest winds winds were aimed a bit too far south of the state to provide optimum swell generation potential. The result is to be small barely fun sized surf with a moderate period (14 secs).
See QuikCAST's for details. For planning purposes expect swell arrival in Hawaii early Wednesday (3/14) at 10 ft @ 13-14 secs (11-13 ft faces) and in North California late Friday through early Saturday (3/17) at 3 ft @ 14-16 secs (4-5 ft faces max).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (3/11) high pressure at 1024 mbs was off the coast all the way to Hawaii providing a rather calm pattern and no local windswell producing fetch. On Wednesday it is get a little better centralized forming a weak summer-like pressure gradient along the north coast generating northwest winds to 25 kts increasing to potential for local 8 sec period windswell and some sloppy conditions from Monterey bay northward. That fetch to sink south and slowly dissipate Thursday reaching down to Pt Conception making for junky small windswell at best. A calming period expected Friday then another similar gradient to form Saturday/Sunday, sinking south and junking thing up. Calmer early next week before the effects of a string of local low pressure system possibly starts moving in mid-week.
The gale pattern that has been present near New Zealand and providing swell potential for Hawaiian and Tahitian pushed east out of their swell window while still producing 27-30 ft seas Wed/Thurs (3/8), providing weak potential for background southern hemi swell mainly for Southern CA Monday through Wednesday (1/14) but also reaching up into North CA at exposed south facing breaks.
Also the models are suggested development of another gale low well south of Tahiti Monday (3/12) tracking east while producing 27 ft seas spraying north towards the Islands for a short period before moving east of that swell window. This system to reorganize Wednesday (3/14) on the southern edge of the California swell window possibly generating up to 35 ft seas late targeting Southern CA and all locations south of there before pushing east of the swell window and dissipating. Possible small to moderate southern hemi swell action especially for Southern CA from 180-185 degrees the following week.
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 the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation looks to fuel a possible gale cycle next week. By Sunday (3/18) a series of three small lows is to be stretched equidistant across the North Pacific. By Monday the first is to be in the eastern Gulf just off Oregon/Washington pushing 30 kts winds and 20 ft seas towards North CA for a bit over 24 hours before pushing inland into the Pacific Northwest. At the same time the second is to be moving into the Western Gulf of Alaska with a small fetch of 35-40 kt west winds and 23-25 ft seas targeting the Pacific Northwest, expected to track east and hold through Wednesday (3/21) pushing into the Pacific Northwest as well. The third one to remain centered near the dateline producing 35-40 kts winds and 23 ft seas over a broader area aimed west. Potential for utility class 12-14 sec period swell energy primarily for North CA and the Pacific Northwest assuming all develops as forecast.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.
Details to follow...
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table