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 Thursday (3/19) North and Central California had some warbled windswell in the 1 ft overhead range and pretty heavily textured even early. Looks like Spring. This was the residual swell from a gale that was in the Gulf of Alaska last weekend. Southern California was waves in the waist high range with rare chest high sets, a mix of fading and rare southern hemi background swell and more dominant but fading northerly swell coming from a gale that was in the Gulf of Alaska last weekend. All were on the way down. At least is was fairly clean. Hawaii's North Shore was very small and clean, at waist high with perhaps a few slightly larger sets. The East Shore had some residual northeast windswell to at waist to chest high. The South Shore was knee to thigh high with a little background southern hemi swell trying to sneak in.
North and Central CA surf is on the way down with only residual Gulf windswell expected over the next few days with local north wind a likely issue. Southern CA is to continue fading and falling into the unrideable zone by Saturday if not sooner. Until them small wrap-around north windswell from the Gulf to continue to provide something to stand-up on. Hawaii's North Shore is to remain in the very small range if not unrideable for the time being. The East Shore is small and expected to be heading down even more through Friday until east windswell start building on on Saturday and stronger on Sunday. The South Shore is starting to see a little pulse of small southern hemi swell originating from off New Zealand with size building only marginally Friday (3/20), then on the way down by Saturday.
Longterm the models indicate another gale forming 1000 nmiles off the Pacific Northwest on Fri/Sat (3/21) generating up to 20 ft seas aimed well towards the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA and offering some larger but very raw shorter period windswell for the area starting mid Sunday (3/22). A far weaker system is to follow with most fetch aimed up into Central Canada, leaving only weak windswell pushing down into the states for early next week. A small gale might wind up off Japan on Saturday (3/21) dropping directly towards Hawaii generating a small area of 35 ft seas on Sunday west of the dateline, offering potential for small swell for the Islands. And remnants of the gale might build into something in the Western Gulf late next week, but odds low of that occurring. The South Pacific looks to remain quiet for the next 7 days with any weather system pushing flat east and not fetch aimed decently to the north. Make the most of what you can grovel out now cause it's Spring, and a long summer is certain to follow.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (3/19) the North Pacific jetstream remained weak and fragmented offering no real support for swell development. A weak trough remained over the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska but had no wind energy associated with it (110 kts) to support gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (3/22) the trough in the Gulf is to deepen a bit with up to 130 kt winds blowing into it by Saturday morning (3/21) offering support for gale development off the Pacific Northwest then pushing inland on Sunday. A weak cutoff low might form off Japan on Sunday (3/22) but was very unimpressive on the models. Beyond 72 hrs another trough is modeled forming just south of the Aleutians over the Western Gulf of Alaska Wed/Thurs (3/26) perhaps offering some support for surface level gale development, but that is far from certain. Still the major split in the jet is in control with a portion of that ripping off to the north pushing well up into the Arctic Circle, stealing energy from even the northern branch of the jet.
At the surface high pressure at 1036 mbs was in the Bering Sea on the dateline and sagging southeast reaching all the way up to Central California generating northwest winds at 15-20 kts along the coast there, but not producing any real windswell. New low pressure at 996 mbs was trying to reorganize in the Gulf of Alaska generating a fetch of 25 kt northwest winds extending from the Eastern Aleutians southeast towards the Pacific Northwest, but only making it a little of half the way there. Windswell was starting to be generated, but not much yet. No other swell producing fetch was indicated. Over the next 72 hours of primary interest is to be the gale in the Gulf, which is to be regenerating by Friday (3/20) with pressure dropping to 988 mbs just off Central Canada. 30 kt northwest winds are to be building 1300 nmiles west of Washington Friday pushing southeast and fading 600 nmiles off Cape Mendocino Saturday night with seas 20 ft all the while. There's some decent odds for surf pushing into Oregon Saturday and Central CA by Sunday mid-day at 6-7 ft @ 13 secs from 292-298 degree, but north wind is to be fully engaged as the swell hits the coast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/19) high pressure at 1024 mbs was pushing into North and Central California from it's source on the dateline and north of the Aleutians, generating northwest winds at 15-20 kts from Pt Arena south to just outside the Channel Islands and making for chopped conditions over that area. More of the same expected on Friday but sinking south as low pressure builds in the Gulf of Alaska pushing towards the state. Saturday a generally light onshore wind flow is forecast along the bulk of the coast as a front from the low up north starts pushing into the area Saturday night, with rain expected then. By Sunday new high pressure at 1032 mbs builds in hard with north winds at 25 kts by sunrise forecast over the entire state, including Southern CA and holding into Monday, though light winds likely in Southern CA. North winds to continue over Central CA on Tuesday (3/24) as the high holds it's ground, then trying to lighten up some Wednesday and the high starts ridging into the Pacific Northwest. But the high looks to be settling back south, weaker by Thursday (3/250 offering more northwest wind at at least 15 kts for Central CA, though South CA to remain mostly protected. Looks like a Springtime pattern.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
No swell producing fetch is forecast.
On Saturday (3/14) a gale developed in the deep mid-South Pacific tracking due east and offering no energy pushing north towards the US. It tried to build some Tues (3/17) but was still traveling east with no better potential for anywhere but Chile and Peru. Additional energy is to be following on the same route into the weekend (3/21) but again fetch all is to be aimed to the east offering no swell generation potential for any location other than Chile and Peru.
New Zealand Gale (Hawaii)
On Thursday AM (3/12) a weak 972 mb gale had formed just east of New Zealand producing up to 40 kt southwest winds aimed well at Hawaii up the 200 degree path. 26 ft seas were modeled at 43S 178E dropping to 25 ft in the evening at nearly the same location. The gale reorganized some on Friday but was dropping southeast and traveling away from the Islands. 40 kts fetch continued over a small area generating seas to 28 ft in the morning at 47S 172W aimed well towards Hawaii, then turned more to the east away from Hawaii while dissipating and racing southeast. Decent odds for some small 1.6 ft @ 15-16 sec (2.5 ft) background swell for Hawaii from 200 degrees starting late Thursday (3/19) and peaking on Friday at the same size.
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 another small gale is forecast forming Saturday AM (3/21) forming just off Northern Japan and sinking southeast producing a short lived fetch of 45 kt northwest winds at 43N 158E aimed well down the 312 degree path to Hawaii and bypassing any path to the mainland. It's to drop southeast through Sunday and fading all the while but still aimed well toward Hawaii down the 302 degree path generating up to 35 ft seas at 38N 162E Sunday AM (3/22). Limited swell possible for the Islands starting late Wed (3/25) if this comes to pass.
Spun off remnants of the system to possibly reorganize in the Western Gulf of Alaska Wed/Thurs (3/26) generating a short lived fetch of 50 kts wind and 32 ft seas aimed directly at the US west coast, but odds nearly impossible of this occurring.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (3/19) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was down to -4.07 (21 days in a row near zero, neutral, and the lowest since June of last year when we almost slipped into an El Nino). The 30 day average was down to 3.22 and the 90 day average was down some to 9.57. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though possibly fading away fast. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a fading weak easterly flow over the dateline indicative of what was a very weak instance of the Active Phase of the MJO. The Inactive Phase was non-existent over the Indian Ocean. This Active Phase is really not strong and not providing any help for the storm track. And it is to be dissipating by 3/22, with a neutral pattern expected behind it holding into April 7. Regardless, the residual effects of La Nina remain well in-control, with cooler than normal water now pooled up off Central America. Of some interest is the equatorial subsurface warm pool of water that has been repressed back west of the dateline, it is starting to make some eastern headway, reaching now to 154W. Still subsurface cooler waters are entrenched just east of there. Will be interesting to see if the SOI stays near neutral and if the warm subsurface waters of the West Pacific continue to make inroads to the east. Regardless, it will take months before the atmosphere begins to respond to any changes (warming) of the eastern equatorial Pacific, so expect a cool and foggy Spring into early summer.
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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Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I4rZYEZMWQ (Fixed link)
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