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 (3/26) North and Central California surf was pure local north windswell at chest to head high and blown out courtesy of brisk Springtime local north wind. High pressure remained strong off the coast and is not expected to budge for the next 7 days. Southern California was getting thigh high north local windswell wrapping in from outside the Channel Islands with a few waist high sets and moderate northwest wind mid-day putting a pretty good chop on it. Hawaii's North Shore was getting 1-2 ft overhead westerly swell originating from across the dateline from a gale days earlier with reasonably clean conditions. this was the best thing going. The East Shore had head high to 1 ft overhead surf generated by stronger than normal trades courtesy of high pressure north of the Islands. The South Shore was flat with no southern hemi swell in the water.
North and Central CA is to continue receiving copious locally generated north springtime windswell for the next 7 days. Size to continue at roughly chest to head high range. Chopped conditions are all that's indicated too, at least through the end of the workweek. A taste of semi real north swell to be buried in there on Saturday at maybe up to 2 ft overhead. Southern CA is to continue receiving a portion of that north windswell, only at the most exposed breaks in the knee to thigh high range. Local winds are to be reasonably cooperative as compared to breaks north of Pt Conception, mainly in the morning. Hawaii's North Shore is to has already seen the peak of the Japan swell, and it's all downhill from here, with that swell gone by Sunday AM with nothing immediately behind. The East Shore is expected to have more easterly windswell, peaking Friday (3/27), then settling down some after that but far from out for the next 7 days. The South Shore is not expected to see any southern hemi swell forecast for the next 7 days.
Longterm a remnants of a gale that were off Japan last weekend tried to build in the Western Gulf but were getting redirected well to the north by strong high pressure off the US West Coast. Limited swell from this for NCal on Saturday. Another similar gale is forecast in the same area Sun/Mon (3/30) with the same result. Then things settle down even more with only high pressure and north winds producing local windswell. Down south the models have been hinting at a gale forming under New Zealand Mon/Tues, but that is looking less likely with each new run of the models. And another is forecast under New Zealand Thurs (4/2) but put not stock in that either. The move is definitely ttowards Spring, and not inspirational at that, so set your sights accordingly.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (3/26) the North Pacific jetstream remained a mess providing no support for gale development. A weak trough tracking through the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska but was almost over land, not offering much to get interested in. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (3/29) the main flow is to be tracking from Japan to the dateline then almost impacting the Aleutians, slipping just south of there on into Northern Canada and not offering any real support for gale development in the North Pacific and only support high pressure in the East Pacific. A weak but split flow is to continue. Beyond 72 hrs no change is forecast.
At the surface strong high pressure at 1036 mbs remained 700 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging hard into California and Oregon generating a steady fetch of north winds at 25 kts pushing down the North and Central CA coast then turning southwest and west pushing up to the Hawaiian Islands. These winds were serving only to generate choppy local windswell along the exposed California coast and more direct easterly windswell pushing into East Shores of the Hawaiian Islands. Swell from a gale off Japan over the weekend was pushing into the Hawaiian Islands (see Japan Gale below).A tiny storm also developed from the remnants of the Japan Gale (see Gulf Gale below) tracking through the northern Gulf of Alaska, shunted north by the strong high pressure system locked off the Central CA coast. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system is to hold it's strength and position continuing to generate north windswell along the CA coast and weaker east windswell into the Hawaiian Islands.
A small gale formed Saturday AM (3/21) 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 dropped southeast through Sunday fading all the while but still aimed well toward Hawaii down the 302 degree path. Seas were modeled at up to 35 ft Sunday AM (3/22) at 38N 160E, then fading from 30 ft in the evening at 34N 164E. Limited swell possible for the Hawaiian Islands starting late Wed (3/25) and peaking Thursday AM near 5.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (7.0-7.5 ft faces) from 302-310 degrees.
Remnants of the Japan Gale (above) started to redevelop Tuesday AM (3/24) just east of the dateline with pressure 984 mbs generating up to 45 kt northeast winds at 43N 179W aimed well west of Hawaii with limited 40 kts north and northwest winds wrapping into the gales southwest quadrant aimed better at the Islands from 38N 176W down the 319 degree path. But these winds to be lifting northeast and down to 35 kts in the evening generating maybe 22 ft seas pushing towards Hawaii. Not too much swell potential here for Hawaii.
On Wednesday AM (3/25) a small fetch of 40 kts winds were building in the gales south quadrant at 47N 163W aimed due east or right up the 298 degree path to North CA with seas building to 20 ft there. In the evening 50 kt west winds modeled again in the storms south quadrant at 52N 158W aimed right up the 309 degree path to NCal. 32 ft seas were modeled at 52N 157W aimed towards Vancouver Island and points northward. By Thursday AM (3/26) the storm was fading while lifting northeast in the Gulf of Alaska with a solid fetch of 40 kt southwest winds and 35 ft seas at 54N 152W, 30 degrees east of the 318 degree path to NCal and mostly pushing towards the Pacific Northwest and points north of there. this system to be fading fast by nightfall. Some sideband semi-real longer period small swell is expected to result for Northern CA starting Sat AM with pure swell 4.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (6.5 ft faces) coming from 310 degrees, with better energy into the Pacific Northwest and more up into Canada.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/26)strong high pressure at 1038 mbs was filling the East Pacific from the dateline over Hawaii and into California and up to Northern British Columbia. It was generating brisk north winds at 20-25 kts pushing down the North and Central California coasts generating short to moderate period local north windswell and chop. Southern CA was protected by the Channel Islands. No real change is forecast Friday and if anything, the gradient is to strengthen with up to 30 kt north winds forecast off the coast. Winds to pull away from the coast for a brief break on Saturday (3/28) but then come surging onshore again for Sunday and Monday. More of the same is forecast if not stronger by Wednesday (4/1) with up to 35 kt north winds off San Francisco, chopping things up horribly. No relief in sight. Southern Ca is to remain mostly protected from the brunt of these winds.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
No swell producing fetch is forecast.
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 models suggest one more gale forming Sunday (3/29) almost over the juncture of where the Aleutians meet Alaska producing 45 kt northwest winds aimed towards the Pacific Northwest then quickly turning towards Central Canada by late afternoon, then gone by evening. Maybe some limited 30 ft seas to result Sunday evening at 55N 147W targeting exclusively the Pacific Northwest and points north of there.
Beyond a gale is forecast off Japan a week out generating 30 ft seas aimed towards Hawaii, but that is pure fantasy at this early date. Odds are the North Pacific is heading quickly into hibernation.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (3/26) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Active Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index neutral. The Daily SOI index was down to -10.87 (28 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 0.69and the 90 day average was down some to 8.77. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though steadily fading. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a steady westerly flow over the Philippines pushing over the dateline indicative of another instance of the Active Phase of the MJO. This remains strange since we just came out of the Active Phase, and now another pulse is developing pushing from the Indian Ocean eastward into the Pacific. There was a weak signal of the Inactive Phase over Africa. This Active Phase easing into the Pacific is looking decent and might actually help the storm track some. This Active phase is to hold through 4/2 on the dateline, then slowly fade through 4/5 while the Inactive Phase tries to get a foothold in the Indian Ocean, but never make it into the Pacific. At this time the residual effects of 3 years of La Nina remain well in-control, with cooler than normal water pooled up off Central America. But even that appears to be starting to erode based on Mondays data, less cool than even a few days earlier. Thee equatorial subsurface warm pool of water that has been repressed back west of the dateline, continues to make hold, reaching east to 154W. Subsurface cooler waters remain 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, especially since the Active Phase of the MJO is now unexpectedly back in control. 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 in California into early summer. But come summer, if warming develops in the Tropical Eastern Pacific, this could set up up for a decent Fall, and maybe an enhanced late summer southern hemi season.
Starting Sunday (3/29) a gale is forecast to develop under New Zealand generating 40 kt winds and 32-35 ft seas through Tuesday (3/31) now forecast to be aimed more to the east and less to the northeast, reducing odds of swell pushing up into Hawaii and the US West Coast. Still, it's something to monitor.
Another gale to follow on it's heel's late Tuesday with 45 kts winds and up to 36 ft seas aimed better to the northeast, but that's just a guess by the models.
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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
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