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 Thursday (4/28) North and Central California was seeing blown out waist high windswell and not real rideable. Southern California was seeing locally generated northerly windswell at thigh high and semi-clean early, but still warbled. Down south northerly windswell was the main surf source with waves waist high with a few chest high sets and reasonably clean, though warbled. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a little more windswell with waves up to chest high and clean with modest trades in effect. The East Shore was getting minimal wrap around energy from the northwest resulting in waist high surf at exposed breaks and lightly chopped. The South Shore was getting minimal southern hemi swell with waves thigh to waist high and a few bigger sets at top spots and clean with light trades.
Surf Forecast Overview
North and Central CA on Friday (4/29) is to see new northwest windswell building to near 5 ft (faces) fading Saturday from 4.5 ft then dropping from 4.5 ft on Sunday. Monday things start fading with windswell down to 2.5 f) rising only slightly Tuesday to 3 ft.
Southern California is to see local northerly windswell on Friday to thigh high. Saturday waist high windswell continues then fading from thigh high on Sunday. Monday knee high northwest windswell is possible fading to flat on Tuesday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to see thigh high residual north windswell on Friday fading to flat Saturday. Sunday new northwest windswell arrives at waist to chest high fading from knee high early Monday and then going flat.
The East Shore is to see east windswell pushing to waist high Friday holding there through the weekend into Monday and then up the chest high Tuesday.
The South Shore is to see knee high background southern hemi swell Friday holding at knee to thigh high through the weekend, then fading to flat Monday and holding there.
The North Pacific forecast remains unchanged with only spurious low pressure development focused over the Northern Dateline region with seas mostly in the 18 ft range (though 25 ft seas are forecast for one late Sunday - but not believable). Down south a gale is forecast in the Central Pacific Fri-Sat (4/30) but falling southeast, possibly generating near 30 ft seas (down from previous estimates) but getting little traction pushing north. Nothing else to follow. In short, no real swell potential is expected.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (4/26) the jetstream was pushing hard northeast off Japan ridging almost to the Aleutians before falling into a mild trough over the northern dateline region, only to again ridge northeast before falling one more time just off British Columbia and pushing inland over Washington. Only the trough over the dateline held any support for low pressure development, and not much at that. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is forecast pushing slowly east and fading in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska on Sunday (5/1) with winds mostly in the 100-110 kt range offering no real support for low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours another trough is to build over the northern dateline late Sunday tracking slowly east-northeast Wednesday (5/4) into the Northeastern Gulf but with winds only in the 110 kts range and again not real supportive of even low pressure development. Overall the jet is to slowly lifting north with each successive eastward pushing trough, suggesting high pressure is getting a stronger hold on the North Pacific and a summer-time pattern is getting more entrenched. Soon we will shift our jetstream analysis to the southern hemi and call it quits for the North Pacific.
At the surface on Thursday (4/28) high pressure at 1032 mbs was ridging into the US and Canadian West Coasts with a secondary high over the dateline at 1028 mbs heading east. Low pressure at 992 mbs was trying to push east over the interconnected highs, but was succeeding in only getting shoved north, with the core already in the Bering Sea. A tiny fetch of 30 kt northwest winds extended south of the Aleutians, but most fetch south of there was 25 kts. Seas were 18 ft, maybe good for minimal windswell pushing down to Hawaii (1500 nmiles away), but not much. Otherwise no swell producing fetch was occurring. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to continue ridging into the US West Coast generating a persistent pressure gradient along the Central CA coast generating 25 kts northwest wind and local short period windswell through the weekend. Another low is to start wrapping up on the dateline late Saturday (5/30) with 30 kt west to northwest winds reaching further south, down to 40N and aimed well at Hawaii. This seems a bit aggressive. And the 12Z run of the wave model actually suggests up to 26 ft seas building at 45N 180W late Sunday evening, then fading and falling southeast into Monday (5/2). If this occurs, there a good possibility Hawaii could actually get a decent shot of northwest swell in the 14-15 sec range. But odds are this is just an aberration in the model, with a more realistic scenario likely developing in future runs (like the 18Z today). Something to monitor just the same.
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 (4/28) high pressure at 1032 mbs was in control centered 800 nmiles west off Cape Mendocino CA ridging east and generating modest northwest winds at 15-20 kts over the North and Central CA coast and outer waters of Southern CA. These winds are to build to near 30 kts on Friday from Pt Arena southward to the Channel Islands as the high eases east more, then finally starting to fade some Saturday with northwest winds down to 20-25 kts over outer waters before dropping to 15 kts Sunday. Alot of chop and short period windswell the expected result. And the high is to not relent, with more forecast Monday with northwest winds 15-20 kts but confined to the area from Monterey Bay northward up to Cape Mendocino, then rebuilding to 25-30 kts Tuesday into Wednesday (5/4) but focused more on Cape Mendocino with less down into Central CA. By Thursday (5/5) northwest winds to finally start really dropping off for the bulk of Central CA.
high pressure at 1032 mbs was positioned just off the coast of Chile
with anther at 1028 mbs building in the Tasman Sea, both locking down
gale production in those areas. But in the gape in between a small area
of low pressure was trying to build well south of Tahiti. No fetch of interest was occurring yet though. Over the next 72 hours that low is to build some resulting in a broad fetch of 30 kt south winds Friday AM (4/29) at 49S 155W aimed well to the north. Unfortunately the core of the low is to be falling southeast fast though by evening 40 kt south winds are to persist at 53S 150W. 26 ft seas trying to get established at 50S 153W. By Saturday AM (4/30) 40-45 kt south winds are forecast at 54S 147W aimed well to the north but the whole low is to continue falling southeast, with 26 ft seas barely hanging on at 53S 142W. By evening all fetch is to wrapping into the gales north quadrant aimed east and the core is to be falling south fast. Sea forecast to 30 ft at 53S 141W aimed due east. Sunday AM this system is to be gone. At this time no real swell of interest is forecast to result.
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 the models suggest another low is to track from the Kuril Island east towards the dateline Tues-Wed (5/4) with 30-35 kt west winds and up to 18 ft seas being produced. Maybe some windswell potential for Hawaii with luck.
As of Thursday (4/28) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued relatively low, but nothing noteworthy. The daily SOI was at 11.68. The 30 day average was down slightly at 25.26 with the 90 day average up slightly at 21.37.
Wind anomalies as of Wednesday (4/27) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak easterly anomalies in control over the far Eastern Indian Ocean on into the West Pacific extending almost to the dateline indicative of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. These anomalies are to reach the dateline on 5/2 then rapidly degenerate, with remnants pushing east into Central America by 5/7. A neutral pattern is expected to hold into the end of the forecast period (5/17).
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (4/28) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a a good 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 relenting some 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 slowly building in coverage. 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 had edged east from the West Pacific, previously up +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator through 3/22. But there had also been an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm anomalies, and cool anomalies east of there that was blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. But on 4/4, it appeared that that wall was fading if not gone entirely (by 4/7). And currently (4/19) a small but steady finger of normal to slightly warmer (0 to +1 deg C) water was flowing east making it to the equatorial East Pacific up at 100-150 meters and building some. Almost +1 degrees anomalies are tracking from the West Pacific to the East Pacific short of one small break at 160W. 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. The thought is this normalization of the subsurface flow will eventually affect water temps at the surface and then the atmosphere above it (6 months later). So all this is a step in the right direction though painstakingly slow.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. From a historical perspective these easterly winds were 'normal' with only light easterly anomalies persisting in the far Western Pacific.
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 another small gale is forecast tracking more or less flat east through the Central Pacific resulting in 40 kt southwest winds and maybe 30 ft seas at 60S 160W mid-day Tues (5/3). Maybe some minimal swell to radiate north towards Hawaii and California, but odds are low at this early date.
Beyond no other swell production 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
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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 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