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 (4/10) North and Central California was seeing mostly local windswell producing waves in the waist high range and clean but lumpy early with brisk winds still occurring over outer waters. Southern California was seeing waist high northwest windswell mixed with some leftover southern hemi background swell and pretty clean early up north. Down south waves were in the waist to occasional chest high range and reasonably clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was starting to see a little dateline pulse with waves near head high on the sets and clean with light trades in effect. The East Shore was getting trade wind generated east-northeast windswell at shoulder high and pretty 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 (4/11) is to see some north angled Aleutian Island swell late in the day at pushing 5 ft (faces) with local windswell on top, then up to 6.5 ft Tuesday. Wednesday that combo swell fades from 6.5 ft dropping to 5.5 ft Thursday and about 5 ft on Friday.
Southern California is to see knee high northwest background swell Monday building Tuesday with Aleutian Island background swell taking hold to thigh high and local windswell intermixed. Wednesday combo Aleutian swell/local windswell is expected at waist high fading from thigh high Thursday and holding near waist high Friday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to see Aleutian Island swell on Monday possibly to head high early dropping to waist high or so Tuesday. The bottom drops out on Wednesday with nothing rideable and staying there though the end of the week.
The East Shore is to see east windswell at head high Monday and a little smaller Tuesday then dropping to waist high plus on Wednesday and holding into Thursday.Maybe some thigh high leftovers on Friday and holding.
The South Shore is to see some southern hemi background swell arriving Monday at thigh high then fading to knee to thigh high Tuesday and knee high Wednesday. New southern hemi background swell pulls in Thursday at head high holding through early Friday.
An exceedingly anemic weather pattern was in control of the North Pacific with no fetch greater that 25 kts in play and none expected for the next week. Swell from a a gale that mostly was in the Bering Sea generating 26 ft seas south of there in exposed waters of the North Pacific is arriving in Hawaii and expected into the US West Coast Monday, but size is to be very modest. After that, nothing is forecast. Down south a little gale developed along-side of New Zealand on Friday pushing background swell towards mostly Hawaii for later in the workweek with far less size even for California. Another gale is forecast tracking mostly east under New Zealand mid-week, but not alot is expected from it for US interests. As of right now it looks like a La Nina Springtime weather pattern has taken hold and it won't be letting go. Hope you enjoyed your winter.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (4/10) a weak jetstream flow as in control, pushing off Japan and instantly splitting with most energy running north over the Aleutians into the far Northern Gulf of Alaska and on inland into British Columbia. with were maybe 90 kts in a few pockets and generally much less, with no troughs of interest occurring. No support for gale development indicated. Over the next 72 hours the same general pattern is to hold but with the split in the West getting far more pronounced pushing almost north of the Bering Sea, then falling hard southeast into the Gulf of Alaska with a bit of a trough developing there with winds building to 160 kts by Tuesday (4/12) then pushing into the Pacific Northwest over the day Thursday. Some support for gale development possible there. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to totally fall apart with the split continuing to push most wind energy well up north of the Bering Sea through next weekend (4/17).
At the surface on Sunday (4/10) low pressure was in the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska generating 20-25 kt west winds blowing from the dateline into the Northern Gulf producing 18 kts seas in the Northern Gulf, and maybe capable of generating some windswell for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA for the week ahead. Also swell from a gale that was in the Central Bering Sea with fetch dropping just south of the Aleutians was pushing towards the US West Coast with sideband energy from it already starting to hit Hawaii (see details below). Otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs was 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii with a secondary high just off the US West Coast and pretty much in control. Trades at 15-20 kts were east of Hawaii making for some limited east windswell. Over the next 72 hours low pressure is to continue circulating in the Northern Gulf with northwest winds up to near 30 kts on Tues (4/12) generating near 20 ft seas for a small time early Wednesday targeting Oregon and Northern CA offering the specter of some more windswell, but that's about it.
Bering Sea Gale
A new gale formed over the intersection of the the dateline and the Aleutians Wednesday AM (4/6) generating 40-45 kt south winds all aimed at the Aleutians with the core of the low over the Aleutians. In the evening winds were up to 50-55 kts out of the west but all north of the Aleutians with only limited 35-40 kt westerly fetch free-and-clear at 51N 178W just south of the Aleutians generating 20 kt seas at 47N 180 west aimed towards the US West Coast (302 degs NCal). 50 kt west winds held up in the Bering Sea Thursday AM (3/7) but only 35 kt west winds south of the Aleutians generating up to 26 ft seas at 51N 172W (308 degs NCal) and bypassing any great circle route to Hawaii. The core of the gale is to be fading well up in the Bering Sea in the evening with 35 kt west winds holding south of the Aleutians and residual seas of 23 ft fading at 52N 165W (308 degs NCal). There's some suggestion the remnants of this gale may start falling southeast Friday AM (4/8) with 35 kt west wind at 52N 160W generating 27 ft seas at 51N 165W (307 degs NCal) then continuing east in the evening with 26 ft seas again at 52N 155W. 30 kt west winds to hold into Saturday AM at 51N 155W with 24 ft seas forecast at 50N 150W again aimed at the Pacific Northwest down to Central CA (310 degs). At best some small north angled swell is possible for North and Central CA stating late Sunday into Monday AM (4/11) and continuing into mid-week.
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 (4/10) weak high pressure at 1026 mbs centered 700 nmiles southwest of Southern CA was giving way to a building weak low pressure system just off the Washington Coast, allowing what has been a persistent northwest wind pattern to take a break. A front associated with the low is to push down the state overnight reaching the northern Central CA coast mid-Monday morning with perhaps a hint of light rain into San Francisco. Wind light near the coast. But high pressure is to be building in right behind by evening with northwest winds at 20 kts covering the state near sunset. More of the same is forecast Tuesday with high pressure and northwest winds in control everywhere but protected breaks in Southern CA and holding into at least Wednesday (4/13) AM. There's suggestions of another weak low building in the Eastern Gulf at the same time and pushing east with a front pushing south reaching again to maybe San Francisco Wed late AM (4/13) with a hint of rain possible then. But high pressure is to be building from the south quickly and northwest winds on the increase from Monterey Bay southward, focused mainly on Pt Conception by late Wed holding Thursday and Friday while the high itself tried to ridge into Northern CA but doesn't quite make it. Wind for the weekend from Pt Conception northwards at 15 kts and up to 25 kts at Pt Conception. Sure looks like Spring.
On Thursday (4/7) a small gale developed under New Zealand tracking north up it's eastern coast generating a tiny fetch resulting in 32 ft seas in the evening at 45S 178E pushing up to 40S 179W Friday AM and holding on to the evening at 39S 170W. This was a far from impressive system, but good enough to push a decent pulse of swell towards Hawaii. Expect swell arrival there on Thursday (4/14) with swell building to 3 ft @ 16 secs late (5 ft faces) then holding at 3 ft @ 15 secs (5 ft faces) into Friday AM (4/15). Leftovers for Saturday and fading. Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees
Over the next 72 hours another gale is to build south of the Tasman Sea tracking east-northeast on Tues (4/12) producing a solid area of 40 kt west-southwest winds and seas building form 35 ft at 61S 153E. With the Antarctic Ice Sheet at it's Fall minimum, the fetch is to get some traction on ice free waters there. By Tuesday evening the fetch is to build to almost 45 kts while pushing east-northeast with seas building to 38 ft at 58S 170E (a long ways from the US West Coast and aimed pretty much east of the great circle tracks to Hawaii). 45 kt winds to hold into Wed AM (4/13) with seas to 38 ft at 56S 176W, then the whole system is to fade. Possible decent sideband swell to result for Hawaii with less and inconsistent energy possible for the US Wet Coast, assuming this system even forms. It's something to monitor at least.
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 a marked decrease in wind velocity is forecast for the entire North Pacific with finding any fetch of even 25 kts starting to become a rarity by Thursday (4/14). In short, there's nothing of any interest forecast. And hopes we had for a brewing Active Phase of the MJO to break-up the high pressure pattern has all but faded. The storm door is quickly closing.
As of Sunday (4/10) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued solid in the positive range. The daily SOI had fallen to 15.43. The 30 day average was up to 24.43 with the 90 day average holding at 21.73.
Wind anomalies as of Saturday (4/9) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that the Active Phase of the MJO had peaked with modest westerly anomalies now filling the entire equatorial Pacific from the Philippines and New Guinea eastward over the dateline and pushing into Central America. There were having little impact on the daily SOI, a bit of a disappointment. Regardless, theses anomalies are to be easing east while slowly dissipating by 4/14 and effectively gone by 4/19. At the same time the Inactive Phase is rebuilding in the Indian Ocean but not expected to get as strong as previously forecast, reaching the extreme West Pacific by 4/14 then starting to dissipate before reaching the dateline on 4/19 and fading out into 4/29. One would think the current Active Phase would add some support for gale development, theoretically helping to break high pressure down and pull the jetstream together. But the models show none of that. It looks like the pull of Springtime trumps anything the MJO is try to do, meaning that the 2010-2011 Winter season is likely over. It will be interesting to see whether the dominance of the Active Phase from February till late March will have any lasting effects, or whether the Inactive Phase will come roaring in (like it is now) and take control into June. We really need to see the 30 day average SOI taking a significant dive towards neutral territory before we'll believe any real trend/bias away from La Nina is occurring (regardless of what NOAA is predicting recently).
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (4/7) 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 had previously 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 had been minor fluctuations in it's intensity but in all, reasonably stable. There had been an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm and cool anomalies and it had been blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. But as of 4/4, it appears that that wall is fading if not gone entirely (by 4/7) with a small but steady finger of normal to slightly warmer (0 to +1 deg C) water flowing east making it to the equatorial East Pacific up at 100-150 meters. It would be best to see warm anomalies down to 200 meters, but the current state is the best it's been in 9 months and suggestive of a near normal subsurface thermocline.
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 almost normal and any anomalies that persisted were dying to almost totally normal as of 3/27.
Remnants of what was a moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) are still evident and momentum from this La Nina event are 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. Best bet's at this time are for an enhanced tropical season in the Atlantic (2011).
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
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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 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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table