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.
On Sunday (4/3) North and Central California was seeing a mix of residual dateline swell mixed with much locally generated north windswell producing waves to near double overhead and chopped. Southern California was seeing rare chest to head high sets coming from the dateline and lined up and clean when they come with clean conditions up north with calm winds early. Down south waves were in the head high.cgius range on the rare sets coming from the dateline and clean with long walls. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with no swell and light trades in effect. The East Shore was getting thigh to waist high high east windswell 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 Monday (4/4) is to have locally generated northwest windswell at 7 ft (faces) fading to 3.5 ft on Tuesday. Some northerly swell is to move in for Wednesday building to 11 ft but totally shadowed. Thursday that swell holds with windswell on top to 10 ft and again about 8 ft on Friday (8 ft). But on all days north winds to be blowing hard making for a chopped mess.
Southern California is to see northerly swell Monday fat waist to chest high fading to knee high Tuesday. Possible new very north angled Gulf swell for late Wednesday at head high only at exposed breaks holding for early Thursday then dropping and down to chest high Friday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to see new dateline swell at 1 ft overhead Monday holding at 2 ft overhead early Tuesday into early Wednesday. Down to flat on Thursday and the same for Friday.
The East Shore is to see no east windswell through Tuesday. then Wednesday it builds to waist high and up to head high Thursday and Friday.
The South Shore is not being monitored for the late Winter even though another small pulse of southern hemi swell is expected in on late Tuesday building to chest high Wednesday fading to waist high Thursday and then back to flat.
High pressure is in control of the East Pacific as the Inactive Phase of the MJO moves over the area while making it's exit into the Atlantic. As a result north winds to be the norm along the California coast with no real swell production in the highly coveted dateline region. But a swell producing system tried to organize on the dateline late Fri (4/1) while tracking fast northeast with seas in the 20 ft range, then finally got is expected to get decent in the Northern Gulf on late 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. Still some swell is expected for all our forecast locations with a little luck. Another very north positioned storm is forecast on the dateline late in the workweek moving into the Northern Gulf and fading offering another shot of something rideable.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (4/3) the jetstream was tracking off Japan and quickly .cgiitting but not heavily, then .cgiitting again as it hit the dateline. The northern branch was all south of the Aleutians but had no real cohesive flow with winds 120 kts or less, though up to 150 kts in one almost trough like area near the Gulf of Alaska. In general, there was not much support for gale development indicated other than in the Gulf. Over the next 72 hours the northern branch of the jet is to be pushing hard north pushing to the Aleutians on the dateline on Monday and then up into the Bering Sea 24 hours later though leaving a sliver of a trough in the extreme Northeastern Gulf but even that is to be gone by Wednesday. Beyond 72 hours a bit of a trough is to be sweeping east from Kamchatka reaching the dateline by Thursday and pushing east from there, but loosing much energy along the way and offering only very modest support for gale development while it moves into the Gulf of Alaska over the weekend. Beyond a totally .cgiit jet looks to be setting up.
At the surface on Sunday (4/3) a new gale was circulating in the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska producing a solid fetch of 40 kt northwest winds at 50N 160W aimed at the US west coast. Seas were building. Otherwise high pressure at 1028 mbs was 600 nmiles west of Central CA making for a brisk area of north winds along the coast there (30 kts) and generating local windswell. Another high was over the dateline at 1028 mbs pushing all weather systems migrating off Japan well to the north and up into the Bering Sea.
Previously the gale in the Northern Gulf started building over the dateline Friday AM with west winds to 45 kts producing a small area of 26 ft seas at 33N 175E and lifting northeast fast. By evening 40 kt northwest and west winds were up at 40N 170W with 22 ft seas over a small area at 38N 172W offering fetch aimed at Hawaii up the 334 degree path. By Saturday AM (4/2) 40 kt northwest and west winds continued at 45N 170W as the gale lifted due north with 23 ft seas continuing at 43N 170W bypassing Hawaii. In the evening 40 kt northwest winds started building way up at 49N 164W with 23+ ft seas building at 44N 165W. All energy taking aim at the Pacific Northwest. Sunday AM (4/3) 45-50 kt northwest fetch to hold up at 50N 160W with 26 ft seas at the same locale focused on the Pacific Northwest. In the evening 45 kt westerly winds to be pushing east at 51N 152W with seas building to 36 ft at 51N 153W pushing towards Vancouver Island. A rapid decrease in fetch is forecast by Monday AM (4/4) with winds down to 35 kts and seas fading from 37 ft at 50N 148W. At this time most swell (assuming all goes as forecast) is to be aimed at the Pacific Northwest with small sideband energy for Hawaii and more for Central CA northward though from a very northerly angle down into Central CA. Swell from the early part of this storm is to reach Hawaii by Monday (4/4) with pure swell 5.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (6-7 ft faces) early afternoon from 308 degrees. See QuikCAST's for more details.
Otherwise over the next 72 hours no other swell producing weather systems are forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (4/3) high pressure at 1028 mbs was ridging into North CA and Oregon generating northwest winds at 30 kts over outer waters and less nearshore. Regardless, it was hacking up the surf from Pt Conception northward. A slight break in the north wind pattern is forecast Mon (4/4) then it is to start rebuilding as a new high pressure cell at 1038 mbs starts pushing east from a position north of Hawaii. By Tuesday north winds to be rebuilding at 25 kts over outer waters mid-day and continue non-stop through Thursday and building to 30 kts on Friday as weak low pressure drops down the interior Pacific Northwest. No break is forecast until maybe Sunday when the high starts loosing steam as it pushes inland and a new low and associated front push up to the Pacific Northwest from the Gulf of Alaska. In all - a horrible chopped mess is expected for this week north of Pt Conception. And even Southern CA, which is normally protected, is to see a pretty good blow of northwest winds Thurs-Fri and even into Sat (4/10).
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
Beyond 72 hrs strong high pressure at 1036 mbs is to be in control 1200 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii and 1200 nmiles west of Northern CA by Wednesday (4/6) and slowly easing east through the end of the workweek and pretty much filling the Gulf of Alaska from just above 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 and generating hard north winds along the California coast well into the coming weekend. This is a very clear indicator that Spring has arrived.
Also a new gale is to form on the extreme northern dateline just south of the Aleutians Wednesday AM (4/6) generating 40-45 kt northwest winds at 45N 180W with seas on the increase. In the evening winds to be up to 50 kts out of the west at 50N 178W just south of the Aleutians generating 30 kt seas at 47N 180 west aimed towards the US west Coast (302 degs NCal). 50 kt west winds to hold up at 51N 175W Thursday AM (3/7) generating up to 40 ft seas at 50N 174W (306 degs NCal) and bypassing any great circle route to Hawaii. The core of the gale is to be up in the Bering Sea at this time. The fetch is to all push into the Bering Sea in the evening with residual seas of 35 ft fading at 52N 168W (308 degs NCal). If all this.cgiays out as forecast some decent north angled swell is possible for the US West Coast.
As of Sunday (4/3) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continue up. The daily SOI was at 41.39. The 30 day average was up to 21.25 with the 90 day average up to 21.00.
Wind anomalies as of Saturday (4/2) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that the Active Phase of the MJO was in control with with westerly anomalies extending from the mid-Indian Ocean east to the dateline and a little further beyond that. It was reasonably strong too. It is to be centered on the dateline by 4/7, holding and slowly dissipating there into 4/12. This is upgraded some and is to be a moderately strong event. At the same time the Inactive Phase is to start rebuilding in the Indian Ocean reaching the extreme West Pacific by 4/17 then dissipating before hitting the dateline on 4/22. Though the SOI index is not indicating the Active Phase in control, a dip in those numbers should be coming shortly. This all suggests that support for gale development should likely get enhanced as the Active Phase of the MJO gets a stronger foothold about 7 days out. Theoretically high pressure should start breaking down on the dateline and the jetstream should repair it's currently .cgiit configuration. 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.cgius 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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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 r.cgiaced 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 acco.cgiished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
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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 acco.cgiished 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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table