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.
In memory of Sion Milosky - On Wednesday (3/16) near sunset Sion Milosky lost his life at Mavericks. Swell #6 was peaking with pure swell running 9.5 ft @ 18 secs from 288 degrees and surf pushing to 20 ft Hawaiian. And the wind, which had been brisk northwest all day creating a heavy texture on the oceans surface, backed down to near calm setting up near glassy conditions for the sessions final hour. A handful of surfers were left savoring the improved conditions with waves breaking on the north end of the second reef and washing into the main bowl, the normal takeoff spot, which had now turned into an inside-out second section. Sion caught one of these waves, followed directly by Shawn Dollar on the next. Both went down. Shawn was able to scratch to the surface and was rescued by a ski. Sion was found 15+ minutes later. It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Sion. His surfing on both Monday and Wednesday were ground breaking and provided a glimpse of where the future of big wave riding can go. He is survived by with wife and two younger daughters. His sponsor Volcom has set up a foundation to help support his family. Donations can be made here: http://volcom.com/news/article.asp?articleID=5218
On Thursday (3/24) North and Central California was seeing locally generated windswell on top of remnant swell from the dateline with waves 2-3 ft overhead and hacked by strong south winds. Southern California was seeing residual dateline swell intermixed with local swell producing waves at chest high up north and clean with light offshores. Looking pretty nice. Down south waves were in the head high range and clean as can be, again coming from the northwest. Hawaii's North Shore was small with maybe some waist high surf and clean with warble intermixed from brisk trades. The East Shore was getting larger east windswell at 2+ ft overhead and chopped. The South Shore is not being monitored for the winter and presumed to be asleep with waves 2 ft or less.
Surf Forecast Overview
North and Central CA on Friday (3/25) is expected to see larger local west-northwest swell pushing 18 ft (faces) and hacked with much local windswell and chop intermixed. Very raw. Saturday windswell fades from 8.5 ft then a new pulse of windswell arrives on Sunday at 10.0 ft. South winds expected. Monday more windswell is forecast at 7-8 ft (faces) fading Tuesday from 8.5 ft.
Southern California is to see local northwest swell on Friday at 2-3 ft overhead fading from shoulder high Saturday. Sunday chest high residuals continue but building some late, then fading Monday from almost chest high. Waist to chest high leftovers on Tuesday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to see maybe some chest high dateline energy Friday dropping to waist high Saturday and then gone. Nothing Sunday through Tuesday.
The East Shore is to see east windswell at 1 ft overhead Friday fading to head high or a little less by Sunday. Monday east windswell continues at shoulder high then down to chest high or less on Tuesday.
The South Shore is not being monitored for the late Winter even though small pulses of southern hemi swell are occasionally starting to show up.
For the US West Coast, another series of small gales are moving southeast from the Gulf of Alaska with the first impacting Northern CA on Thursday. It's producing up to 34 ft seas with very primitive swell expected into North and Central CA on Friday. Raw is the operative word. A second smaller system is forecast Fri-Saturday producing 26-28 ft seas moving directly into Oregon with north angled swell pushing down into North and Central CA on Sunday but again raw. Beyond two more systems are forecast. The first is to be tracking flat over the northern dateline into the northwestern Gulf Sat-Sun (3/27) then fading with seas only 24 ft offering maybe tiny swell for the Islands by Tuesday (3/29). A larger one is forecast tracking off Japan Sunday and reaching the dateline Monday (3/28) with seas in the 37 ft range then fading just east of the dateline an heading northeast. Possible better swell for Hawaii from the later one if it forms.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (3/24) the jetstream was tracking northeast off Japan with 130-140 kts winds, splitting about mid-way to the dateline with the northern branch ridging gently to a point over the Eastern Aleutians with winds holding in the 130 kt range, then falling into a trough off the Pacific Northwest and pushing inland into the southern end of Central California. Still some support for gale development in the trough over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with the ridge in the Central Pacific holding over the Eastern Aleutians and the trough holding in the Eastern Gulf but the split point in the West moving to the dateline with more energy building off Japan to 190 kts by Sunday (3/27). A bit of a trough is to try to form on the leading edge of that energy, but lifting gently northeast. Still some decent support for gale development possible. Beyond 72 hours that energy is to stall some on the dateline with the trough becoming a bit better defined but energy levels dropping to 160 kts by Tuesday (3/29).Theoretically winds to build and that trough is to become better defined late Wednesday with winds to 190 kts improving odds for gale development there. Also Tues-Wed a bit of a ridge is to start building off the CA coast, ending the wet cycle that has dominated there lately. But into Thursday it almost looks like a single consolidated jet might be reaching a good ways across the Pacific with decent energy levels still in-place.
At the surface on Thursday (3/24) a fairly decent gale was poised just off Oregon with a fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds aimed and in close proximity to Northern CA (see details below - Local CA Gale). High pressure at 1028 mbs was locked 700 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii extending from the dateline to Southern Baja and producing enhanced trades over the Islands at 20-25 kts with easterly windswell in the water there and about peaked out. Otherwise 2 more proto-gales were tracking over top of the high pressure system, one just south of the Eastern Aleutians getting ready to fall southeast towards the US West Coast and a second organizing just west of the dateline. But no fetch of interest was occurring just yet. Over the next 72 hours the first gale is to start organizing 1200 nmiles northwest of Washington late Thursday producing northwest winds to 40 kts and falling southeast into Friday AM positioned at 47N 143W with 26 ft seas at 48N 146W (308 degs NCal) making a turn towards the east with 28 ft seas forecast Friday night at 45N 140W (308 degs NCal and 900 nmiles out) then tracking east and out of the CA swell window into Oregon on Saturday AM. Rough estimates put northwest swell of 9 ft @ 15 secs (13-14 ft) into Central CA by Sunday AM from 308+ degrees with the front from this system pushing into the coast. This is totally outside the Hawaiian swell window.
Yet another fetch currently positioned on the dateline is to race east generating 40 kt northwest winds Friday night (3/25) at 47N 165W into Saturday AM (45N 155W - 297 degs NCal) with seas building to 24 ft at 46N 158W then fading Saturday evening with 35 kt west winds off Oregon at 45N 140W. 22 ft seas to be at 43N 135W Sunday AM (302 degs NCal). Swell of 7 ft @ 13-14 secs (9 ft) possible for NCal at sunset Monday (3/28).
Local CA Gale
On Wednesday (3/23) a gale formed about 1000 nmiles west of Oregon dropping southeast with 40-45 kt northwest winds moving right up to the Central and North CA coast Thursday AM (3/24) with seas building to 34 ft (43N 136W). The gale itself is forecast to push into the coast through the day Thursday while seas from previous fetch fall southeast, down to 30 ft just off Pt Arena in the evening at 38N 131W. This swell was hitting buoy 46006 on Thursday AM with seas to 30 ft.
Larger proto-swell is expected to arrive in Central CA Friday AM at 12 ft @ 14-15 secs from 295 degrees, but very raw and windblown.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (3/24) a stronger pulse of rain and wind energy was hitting the Central CA coast south winds at 30 kts and moderate rain for all of Central CA. More snow in the Central Sierra. It is to be working it's way down into Southern CA for late afternoon into the evening. A bit of a clearing pattern is forecast Friday with west wind at 15 kts early, pretty much holding through the day then turning back to southerly after sunset as the next system queues up off the coast. Rain to move back into San Francisco Saturday AM and continuing to push south to Morro Bay by Saturday PM. South winds to down to Morro Bay Saturday then turning calm after sunset as yet another system queues up off the coast. Sunday the next front o blow through the Central coast quickly but generating south winds and rain down to Morro Bay, with high pressure taking over behind it with northwest winds 15 kts by evening for the entire Central Coast. Snow is forecast non-stop in the Tahoe region through Saturday, with a little break Sunday, and more Sunday afternoon and evening. Total snow accumulations to 60 inches on top of the 28 inches that has already fallen since Tuesday night. By Monday AM those northwest winds are to be focused on Pt Conception at 20 kts and up to 15 kts into SF. SCal to remain mostly protected. High pressure is to be building just off the coast hitting fully later Monday with 20 kt north winds in effect through the day Tuesday and Wednesday (3/30) from Pt Conception northward. Southern CA might see some of this early Tuesday, but then backing off. A light offshore flow is possible by Thursday.
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 a new small gale is forecast developing just west of the dateline Saturday (3/26) with 50 kt west winds at 42N 172E tracking fast to the east. Winds to be down to 40 kts in the evening on the datelinewith a small area of 24 ft seas at 42N 179E. The gale is to be disintegrating fast on Sunday AM with 35 kts west winds at 43N 168W with 22 ft seas at 43N 172W. This system is to dissipate after that. Suspect some form of small background sideband swell at 13 secs to result for Hawaii by Tuesday (3/29), but that's all.
Also another small gale is forecast developing just off Japan on Saturday (3/26) with 45+ kt west winds tracking due east into Sunday AM resulting in 32 ft seas over a modest area at 38N 159E building while pushing to 39N 164E in the evening (37 ft) 300-305 degs HI. The gale is to holds while tracking east Monday AM (3/28) with 40-45 kt west winds over a larger area at 39N 177E. Seas to build to 39 ft at 39N 172E. By evening 40 kt west winds forecast at 41N 175W tracking east with seas 36 ft at 38N 178E (312 degs HI, 288 degs NCal). Tuesday AM 40 kt west winds to lift some to the north at 44N 169W with 32 ft seas at 42N 172W (331 degs HI and 292 NCal). The gale to fade thereafter while lifting northeast with 32 ft seas at 44N 165W late (296 NCal - effectively outside the HI swell window). Decent odds for long distance west swell for Hawaii from the initial incarnation of the storm and then more energy from the northwest as the gale tracks northeast. North and Central CA to possibly see decent long period energy assuming all develops as forecast.
As of Thursday (3/24) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued backing off. The daily SOI was at 7.56. The 30 day average was holding at 18.81 with the 90 day average down slightly to 20.44.
Wind anomalies as of Wednesday (3/23) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak easterly anomalies covering the dateline and points east tracking into Central America indicative of the late stages of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. It was a short and weak one moving faster east than expected. A quick fade is forecast with it nearly gone 3/28. A new Active Phase was building and filling the Indian Ocean reaching east to New Guinea, much larger than previous forecast. It is to make it half way between New Guinea and the dateline by 3/28 the reaching to the dateline by 4/2, holding and slowly dissipating there into 4/12. This continues to be much better than previously forecast. This all suggests that support for gale development should be gone currently, which clearly it is not. And the split jetstream expected as a result of the Inactive Phase of the MJO, though it exists, is not pushing the Northern branch as far north as would be expected. The net result is there is still some support for gale development occurring and it is likely to only get enhanced as we move into early April (with the Active Phase of the MJO getting a foothold again). The interesting thing is that even though we are in a La Nina pattern, the Active Phase has been more dominant than expected from February onward and continues to surprise with it's consistency (a good thing) and steadiness. It's almost as if at least a normal pattern is trying to take hold, if not something more.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (3/19) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a bit west of South America westward to the dateline. Cooler than normal waters also were present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast (not as strong as earlier in the Winter) and somewhat colder ones off South America sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, serving to continue the existing 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. But the cooler waters in the North Pacific are relating as are the cool temps over the equator. Warmer than normal waters remain over the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there. And tongues of warmer water are positioned in the both the Northwest and Southwest Hemispheres trying to make inroads to the east. Regardless, the big picture still looks like a La Nina setup (though fading in intensity).
Below the surface on the equator there has been indications of Kevin Wave activity. Colder than normal water that had 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 which in turn might have driven a Kelvin Wave. 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 and holding there though 3/22. There has been minor fluctuations in it's intensity but in all, reasonably stable. Negative anomalies continue in the far East Pacific at -2C just off Ecuador. Regardless, there has been an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm and cool anomalies and it has been blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. Until that configuration changes, La Nina will remain in control.
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 expected 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 the upper atmosphere regardless of how quickly La Nina's demise occurs in the ocean. 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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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
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.
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