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 (3/31) North and Central California was seeing a mix of Gulf swell with local windswell on top producing waves in the head high plus range and chopped. Southern California was seeing waist high waves coming from a mix of southern hemi background swell and more dominant Gulf swell with local windswell on top. Conditions were clean up north with calm winds early. Down south waves were in the chest high plus range on the sets coming more out of the south and clean with some decent length to them. Hawaii's North Shore was doing quite well with dateline swell still hitting producing waves 12 ft on the face and clean and well lined up. Looks like winter time surf. The East Shore was getting thigh high wrap around dateline swell 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 (4/1) is expected to see new inconsistent dateline swell building to 13 ft (faces) continuing on Saturday at 12 ft fading from 8.0 ft Sunday. Monday local windswell to be 6 ft with a little northerly swell moving in Tuesday to 6 ft late and building but totally shadowed.
Southern California is to see new inconsistent dateline swell build late Friday to waist high peaking Saturday at head high to 1 ft overhead fading from shoulder high early Sunday. Waist high northerly windswell expected Monday fading to knee high Tuesday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to see residual dateline swell Friday at 9 ft (faces) dropping from head high Saturday and waist high Sunday. New dateline swell at head high to 1 ft overhead expected Monday holding at 2 ft overhead early Tuesday.
The East Shore is to see east windswell at chest high Friday continuing into Sunday, then fading some dropping to waist high 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.
A larger storm tracked off Japan Sunday (3/27) reaching the dateline mid-Monday (3/28) with seas in the 40 ft range then faded as it moved east of the dateline turning a bit to the northeast through Tuesday. Solid sideband swell has already hit Hawaii and long distance swell is expected into the for the US West Coast for the weekend. Another far weaker system is forecast trying to organize on the dateline Fri (4/1) while tracking northeast with seas in the 26 ft range, then finally getting decent in the Northern Gulf on Sunday with seas in the 36-38 ft range but well to the north aimed best at British Columbia and outside the Hawaii swell window by then. Still some swell possible for all our forecast locations with a little luck. After that strong high pressure takes control.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (3/31) the jetstream was tracking almost flat off Japan with winds to 170 kts then splitting on the dateline and again north of Hawaii while lifting east-northeast with a generally modest flow at 110-120 kts pushing up into British Columbia. It looks like the Inactive Phase of the MJO was having the usual impact on it. A weak trough was off Japan and another north of Hawaii not offering too much in terms of support for gale development. A solid ridge was in control off California. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to persist but with the trough off Japan racing northeast moving into the Gulf of Alaska with the focus of it's energy aimed northeast towards Northern Canada. Some support for ale development, but not in an ideal configuration. Beyond 72 hours the split pattern is to get even more pronounced on the dateline with the northern branch moving over if not north of the Eastern Aleutians late Tuesday (4/5) while the southern branch drops due south towards the equator, only turning east at 15S. This suggests much high pressure building in the upper atmosphere by then and a distinct reduction in support for gale development potential down at the oceans surface. A weak flow is to settle in over the West Pacific at the same time.
At the surface on Thursday (3/31) another gale was trying to organize while tracking east off Japan with winds 35 kts in it's south quadrant aimed at Hawaii and seas developing. The final faint remnants of what was the Dateline Storm (see below) was pushing into Alaska with residual seas at 20 ft fading off Vancouver Island. Otherwise high pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles west of Central CA generating 15 kt north winds along the coast there and trades falling back to normal levels over the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours the dateline gale is to be the only system of interest with winds up to 45 kts by Friday Am at 38N 180W and lifting northeast fast. By evening 40 kt northwest and west winds are forecast at 40N 170W with 26 ft seas over a small area at 38N 173W offering fetch aimed at Hawaii up the 334 degree path. By Saturday AM (4/2) 40 kt northwest and west winds to continue at 45n 170W as the gale lifts due north with 26 ft seas continuing at 43N 165W bypassing Hawaii. In the evening 45 kt northwest winds to build way up at 49N 164W with 26+ ft seas building at 44N 170W. All energy taking aim at the Pacific Northwest. Sunday AM (4/3) 50 kt northwest fetch to hold at 50N 160W with 32 ft seas at the same locale focused on the Pacific Northwest. In the evening 40-45 kt westerly winds to be pushing east at 48N 152W with seas building to 39 ft at 49N 153W pushing towards Vancouver Island. A rapid decrease in fetch is forecast by Monday AM (4/4) with winds barely 35 kts and seas fading from 34 ft at 48N 148W. At this time most swell (assuming this system even forms) is to be aimed at the Pacific Northwest with small sideband energy for Hawaii and more for Central CA northward. Something to monitor. At the same time strong high pressure at 1036 mbs is to be building over the dateline pushing east behind the gale.
A small gale started developing just off Japan on Saturday (3/26) with 40+ kt west winds tracking due east and building to 45 kts in the evening. By Sunday AM (3/27) a solid area of 50 kt west winds were positioned at 39N 162E resulting in 34 ft seas over a modest area at 38N 160E. In the evening 50 kt west winds continued at 39N 170E aimed well up the 310 degree path to Hawaii and the 294 degree path to NCal. Seas were 38 ft at 39N 168E (same heads as the fetch). The gale faded slightly while tracking east Monday AM (3/28) with 45 kt west winds over a larger area at 40N 178E. Seas built to 40 ft at 39N 175E (315 degs HI and 292 degs NCal). By evening the gale was lifting slightly northeast with 45 kt west winds at 41N 175W tracking east with seas 40 ft at 40N 178W (322 degs HI, 291 degs NCal). Tuesday AM 40 kt west winds were lifting some to the north at 42N 170W with 40 ft seas at 40N 170W (336 degs HI and 289 NCal). The gale faded fast thereafter with 35 kt winds Tuesday PM at 45N 170W while lifting north with 34 ft seas at 41N 163W (289 NCal - effectively outside the HI swell window). By Wed AM all fetch was gone with seas from previous fetch at 28 ft at 45N 160W (297 degs NCal).
Decent odds for solid long distance west swell for Hawaii from the initial incarnation of the storm. North and Central CA to possibly see decent long period dateline energy too assuming all develops as currently forecast.
Hawaii: Swell hit as expected pushing 8.0-8.5 ft @ 17 secs (14 ft Hawaiian) just before sunrise Thursday. A slow fade forecast thereafter. See QuikCASTs for details. Swell Direction: 315-320 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Friday at 4 AM with period 20 secs and size steadily on the way up, reaching 7.5 ft @ 18 secs (13.5 ft0 around 1 PM and holding through sunset. Solid size to hold over night with pure swell at 8 ft @ 15 secs (12 ft) Saturday at sunrise. Swell Direction: 289-293 degrees
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 (3/31) high pressure at 1028 mbs was riding into North CA and Southern Oregon generating northwest winds at 20 kts over outer waters and less nearshore. By Friday new high pressure at 1032 mbs is to be building off the coast with a good fetch on north winds at 25 kts setting up east of it sweeping down the Oregon coast. Neashore a 10 kt northwest flow is expected until late Friday night when the high starts building-in and 30 kt north winds start blowing off Pt Arena racing south in the form of a front and fully engulfing the Central CA coast through the day Saturday and into Southern CA on Sunday while holding in the north. A full blowout is expected. A bit of a break in the north winds pattern is forecast Mon-Wed (4/6) as low pressure drops down the Pacific Northwest coast ahead of a new massive high pressure system. Even south winds and light rain possible by later Wednesday for San Francisco working their way south into Thursday evening to Pt Conception with maybe 6 inches of snow in the Sierra. But overall it's starting to look like high pressure is moving in getting the upper hand for the future.
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 strong high pressure at 1036 mbs is to be in control north of
Hawaii from Monday (4/4) easing slowly east through the end of the
workweek and pretty much filling the Gulf of Alaska from south of
Hawaii northward to Alaska and from the dateline east to California. This is to lock the East Pacific down offering no swell producing fetch of interest. Perhaps remnants of the dateline gale scheduled for the coming weekend might fall southeast down the US West coast during the workweek, but even then seas are to not reach the 20 ft mark. In all pretty quiet and a strong indicator that Spring may finally be arriving.
As of Thursday (3/31) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) bounced a bit up. The daily SOI was at 28.62. The 30 day average was down to 16.75 with the 90 day average down some to 19.02.
Wind anomalies as of Wednesday (3/30) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak easterly anomalies covering a modest area west of Central America indicative of the end of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. A new Active Phase was building and moving into the West Pacific reaching almost to the dateline. It is to reach the dateline by 4/4, holding and slowly dissipating there into 4/14. This is not to be a strong event but still better than what one would expect. At the same time the Inactive Phase is to start rebuilding in the Indian Ocean but not reaching the West Pacific even by 4/19. This all suggests that support for gale development should currently be gone with the jetstream splitting (which is what is developing). Over the next 2 weeks support for gale development should likely get enhanced 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. We really need to see the 30 day average SOI taking a significant dive towards neutral territory before we'll believe any real trend away from La Nina is occurring.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (3/31) 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 that have held in the far East Pacific at -2C just off Ecuador and fading again down to -1 deg C. 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. As of 3/31 a small finger of normal to slightly warmer (+1 deg C) water was flowing east making it to the equatorial East Pacific but only up at 100 meters. We need to see changes down at 150-200 meters.
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. And if anything, they were dying to almost totally normal as of 3/27. 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table