Swell Classification Guidelines
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/Utility Class: 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 Tuesday (4/10) North and Central CA had swell fading with waves in the head high range and chopped with southerly wind and rain in control. In Santa Cruz surf was head high on occasion and chopped with south winds in control. Southern California up north was waist high and clean with occasional bigger sets and well lined up. Down south waves were head high, soft and a little textured. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northerly windswell with waves chest high on the sets and pretty warbled. The South Shore was getting southern hemi background swell with waves chest high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting the same northerly windswell at waist high and chopped by easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view
A moderate gale is forecast tracking southeast through the Gulf of Alaska Tues-Wed (4/11) with seas in the 33 ft range then falling to a point off California early Thursday with seas fading from 26 ft offering swell potential for mainly the US West Coast late in the workweek. And perhaps yet another gale is forecast over the dateline on Thursday (4/12) with seas in the 22 ft range targeting primarily the Islands. Any yet another is forecast in the Gulf after that on Sun (3/15) with 26 ft seas. In the southern hemi a small gale tracked northeast well east of New Zealand on Wednesday (4/4) with seas peaking at 35 ft. Maybe some small swell to result mainly focused on the US West Coast down into Mexico by Thurs (4/12). And another developed in the same area with seas 33 ft on Sat (4/7) with small swell eventually projected into Hawaii and the US West Coast. Nothing else of interest to follow.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jet stream - On Tuesday (4/10) the jet was pushing east off Japan ridging slightly as it passed over the dateline into the Western Gulf then was falling into a steep trough just 500 nmiles off the California coast. Winds were 130 kts falling into the trough providing some support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to push inland over Central CA on Wed (4/11) with support for gale development fading then. But a broader trough is to be building in the Gulf of Alaska while the jet west of there is to be falling apart (off Japan). The Gulf trough is to peak on Thursday with 170 kt winds flowing down into it offering good support for gale development, then pushing inland on Friday (4/13) over Central CA again. Beyond 72 hours a very diffuse and weak jetstream pattern is forecast with most energy peeling off and heading north over the Kuril Islands pushing north of even the Bering Sea, leaving only a weak but somewhat consolidated flow pushing east on the 40N latitude line, but winds only 90 kts in pockets and offering nothing in terms of support for gale development. There's some suggestions that flow pushing up into the Bering Sea will start fading by Tues (4/17).
Surface - On Tuesday (4/10) a new gale was circulating in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska (see Gulf Gale below). Weak low pressure was fading off of Cape mendocino resulting in southerly wind and rain for the Central and North coasts. Weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was 600 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii producing 15+ kt east winds pushing over the Islands resulting in weak short period easterly windswell there. Also a low pressure system was circulating east of the Kuril Islands and forecast to develop more in the coming days (see Dateline Gale below).
A gale started to develop over the extreme Eastern Aleutians on Monday PM (4/9) with a broad fetch of 35 kt northwest winds, then built to 45 kts by Tuesday AM with seas building from 28 ft at 48N 163W. This gale is to hold it's ground with winds still 40-45 kts in the evening with seas pushing 34 ft up at 47N 158W (303 degs NCal), then starting to fade while falling southeast. Winds down to 40 kts Wed AM (4/11) with seas holding at 32 ft at 46N 155W (298 degs NCal) and bypassing Hawaii to the east. The gale is to continue southeast into the evening with winds fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 26 ft at 44N 148W (296 NCal). By Thursday AM fetch is to be effectively gone with seas to be down to 22 ft at 42N 140W (295 degs NCal) over a solid area just 700 nmiles off the Central CA coast. Seas from previous fetch down to 20 ft on Thursday PM at 40N 135W (290 degs NCal).
Rough data suggest swell arriving in Central CA on Friday 8 AM with pure swell 8 ft @ 17 secs (14 ft) but shadowed in the SF Bay Area coming from 302 degrees. Lesser period energy building in through the day coming from 296 degrees (unshadowed at 295-296 degrees) at 7.2 ft @ 15 secs (11 ft).
Another gale is to start developing over the dateline on Wednesday evening (4/11) with 30 kt west winds in it's southern quadrant and seas 22 ft at 36N 171E (303 degs HI) on the increase. By Thursday AM (4/12) a broader area of 35 kt west winds are to be in.cgiace 1500 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with seas holding at 22 ft at 36N 177E (310 degs HI). In the evening winds to be fading from 35 kts with seas peaking at 23 ft at 35N 176W (315 degs HI) and 1200 nmiles out. Fetch is to be fading Friday AM (4/13) from 35 kts over a tiny area with seas fading from 20 ft at 35N 168W pushing mainly east with sideband energy tracking towards Hawaii.
Rough data suggest swell arrival on Oahu on Saturday (4/14) near 10 PM with swell 6.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (8 ft faces) coming from 310-315 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/10) weak low pressure at 1004 mbs was off the Cape Mendocino coast with a weak front pushing into the Central CA coast with south winds and light rain falling but not making much penetration inland. Wednesday a weak southwesterly flow is forecast down to Morro Bay with light rain over the entire state down into Southern CA. 8 inches of snow for Tahoe through 4 Am Thurs.. A front from the next system is to be pushing into the Central coast on Thursday (4/12) with south winds down to Pt Conception and rain building through the day and down to Southern CA late. 13 inches of snow for Tahoe through 4 AM Fri. On Friday (4/13) a stronger front is to push south to Pt Conception in the morning and through Southern CA in the afternoon with brisk northwest winds at 20 kts behind it. Light rain continuing through the day all locations. Maybe another 6-8 inches of snow for Tahoe. Saturday high pressure and strong north winds forecast (20+ kts) for all locations with only a few lingering showers for Southern CA early. Sunday north winds to continue for all locations (15 kts) but focused mainly on the Pt Conception area (20 kts) then fading some on Monday (but still northerly 10 kts) and continuing Tuesday but weaker still.
At the surface in the South Pacific on Sunday (4/8) no fetch of interest was occurring and over the next 72 hours none is forecast.
First Small Gale
On Tuesday AM (3/8) a new gale developed southeast of New Zealand just off Antarctica with 50 kt southwest winds and seas on the increase. In the evening 45-50 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast with 33 ft seas at 56S 157W lifting northeast. By Wed AM (4/4) a thin fading area of 45 kt southwest winds remained fading with seas peaking at 35 ft at 53S 150W (197 degs NCal, 200 SCal, 175 HI) and unshadowed by Tahiti. 40 kt south winds held into the evening with seas fading from 32 ft at 49S 142W (193 degs NCal, 196 SCal, 172 HI) and gone after that.
A pulse of small southern swell possible for CA down into Mexico with sideband swell for the Islands. Swell to hit Southern CA starting before sunrise Thurs (4/12) peaking on Friday (4/13) at 2 ft @ 16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) and heading down with period 14-15 secs early Saturday (4/14) from 200 degrees. The NCal swell profile to be about 12 hours behind SCal or arriving just after sunset Thursday from 196 degrees. Minimal sideband energy for Hawaii starting Wed (4/11) at 1.5 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) from 174 degrees.
Second Small Gale
On Friday AM (4/6) a small fetch of 45 kt southwest winds developed southeast of New Zealand with seas on the increase. In the evening that fetch raced northeast and increased in areal coverage, but with winds fading to 40 kts. Seas built to 32 ft over a tiny area at 58S 162W. Fetch continued tracking northeast Sat AM (4/7) with winds down to 35 kts and seas from previous fetch peaking at 33 ft over a decent sized area at 51S 157W (201 degs CA and barely unshadowed by Tahiti and 180 degs HI). In the evening fetch was fading from 30 kts with seas fading from 30 ft at 48N 153W. Reasonable possibilities for another small push of southern hemi swell radiating northeast targeting sideband energy at Hawaii by Sat (4/14) at 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft faces) from 180 degrees with more direct though small energy for the US West Coast down into Central America (arriving in Southern CA on Sun (4/15) at 1.6 ft @ 17secs (2.5-3.0 ft) from 198 degrees.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 yet another gale is forecast building in the Western Gulf on Saturday (4/14) with 35 kt west and northwest winds and seas building from 20 ft at 42N 165W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch is to hold and increase in coverage in the evening with seas building to 26 ft at 43N 161W (350 degs HI/296 NCal). Fetch to continue holding Sunday AM (4/15) with seas 26 ft at 43N 155W (295 degs NCal) and mostly bypassing Hawaii. Fetch fading from 30 kts Sunday evening with seas fading from 22 ft at 43N 150W (295 degs NCal). Possible sideband swell for Hawaii with more direct energy from Central and North CA up into the Pacific Northwest if one is to believe the models.
Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather event that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized by either enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is on control of or slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 day, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecast for MJO activity.
As of Tuesday (4/10) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was rising from -8.00. The 30 day average was down to -6.78 (neutral) with the 90 day average down to 1.95. The latest pulse of the Active Phase of the MJO was having marked effects with the 90 day average surpassing the lowest point it's been in 2 years, but not as low as the El Nino of 2009-2010. This is likely just a MJO induced spike rather than a longer term ENSO trend.
Current wind analysis indicated light westerly anomalies over the equator extending from New Guinea to dateline with neutral anomalies east of there into the East Pacific. This suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was still in control but has peaked out. A week from now (4/18) the pattern is to fade with neutral to weak easterly anomalies over the dateline to north of Australia, indicative of a fading Active Phase of the MJO and a building Inactive Phase. The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/9 are in agreement depicting the Active Phase slowly fading over the next 5 days and the Inactive Phase, which is already strong in the Indian Ocean, pushing into the West Pacific by 4/14 and in control of the dateline a week beyond (4/21). Regardless, the current Active phase appears to be having minimal impact on the upper level circulation even with it's presence on the dateline, meaning that whatever pattern is in.cgiay now is only going to get more entrenched in the coming weeks.
Remnants of what was a moderate.cgius 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 Spring and early Summer of 2012. But after that, a slow but steady return to a more normal pattern is expected to take hold, offering better chances for decent surf for the Fall and Winter of 2012-2013. We're almost there - it's been a long 2 years.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest 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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Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment,.cgiease cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
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 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/
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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table