New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
On Thursday (5/14) North and Central California had waist to chest high crumbly northwest windblown short period windswell at exposed breaks. Southern California had a thigh to waist high northwest crumbly windswell wrapping into exposed breaks with northwest winds chopping it up in the north and only marginally cleaner down south. Hawaii's North Shore was flat. The East Shore was flat with no east windswell occurring. The South Shore was small with thigh to waist high high background southern hemi swell from the Tasman Sea starting to show with clean/sideshore conditions.
The forecast for North and Central CA suggests more northwest short period local windswell expected for the weekend with waves in the chest high range. Southern CA is to see a portion of this same northwest windswell with top exposed spots thigh high. Oahu's North Shore is asleep for the summer. Maybe some windswell expected in on Monday (5/18) but size is to be minimal. The East Shore is not expected to have any trade induced easterly windswell for the foreseeable future. The South Shore is to continue seeing small background southwest swell originating from the Tasman Sea into Saturday with a small reinforcing pulse for Sun/Mon. But don't expect much.
Longterm virtually no swell producing weather systems are forecast in the North Pacific. In the South Pacific nothing is projected for the next 7 days either.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
the surface high pressure at 1024 mbs remained centered 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception ridging east and forming the usual summer time weak pressure gradient along the coast but displaced south some, extending from Morro Bay south to the Channel Islands and down into Baja generating north winds at 20-25 kts and producing short period local north windswell in that area. It was also generating light trades to 15 kts pushing southwest off California and reaching up to the Hawaiian Islands, but not strong enough to produce any east windswell there. No other swell producing systems were occurring. Over the next 72 hours the high off the US West coast is to drift north some, dragging the gradient and fetch up north with it and improving the odds for better windswell for Central CA into the weekend and beyond. A weak cutoff low pressure system is forecast north of Hawaii late Sunday into Monday (5/18) which might generate limited barely rideable windswell for exposed north facing breaks there, but that is just a early guess. No other swell producing systems were forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/14) high pressure at 1028 mbs remained in control of waters off California, though displaced south some. It was generating 25-30 kt north winds from Morro Bay south to the Channel Islands on into Northern Baja. North Ca was seeing 15-20 kt north winds with chop mostly in control of outer waters. Southern CA was protected from the worst of this, but was still getting it's fair share of breeze. But by late Friday into Saturday (5/9) the high pressure system is to start drifting back to the north with the gradient tracking north with it, a north winds getting better footing off Cape Mendocino at 25 kts, then fading on Sunday. By Saturday most of this fetch is to be off the coast from Pt Arena southward providing better nearshore wind conditions Sunday on into Monday. But next week additional high pressure is forecast taking over the Gulf of Alaska at 1032 mbs with a solid gradient forming over Cape Mendocino and 25 kt north winds forecast late Tuesday (5/19) and windswell on the upswing, holding into Thursday (5/2). Local winds from Pt Arena southward to remain decent, away from the coast or turning to an eddy flow (southwest). .
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Thursday (5/14) the South Pacific jetstream was highly split from the west to the east with a solid ridge in the southern branch pushing down over the Ross Ice Shelf under New Zealand and totally shutting off surface level low pressure production there. A bit of a trough was organizing in the far Southeastern Pacific where the two flows of the jet almost came together, generating 130 kt south winds there, but mostly east of even the eastern edge of the US swell window. Over the next 72 hrs the same basic split pattern is to remain in the west offering no help. A new trough is forecast building into the Tasman Sea by Friday with 140 kt winds, possibly helping to support gale development there but aimed mostly at Fiji and West New Zealand. Also in the Southeastern Pacific the trough there is to continue but pushing east, out of the US swell window and focused more on Central and South America. Beyond 72 hrs no real change is forecast with a split pattern still in control and the southern branch ridging south over or near the Ross Ice Shelf. No clear support for gale development is suggested.
At the surface on Thursday strong high pressure at 1036 mbs remains locked down east of New Zealand totally eliminating swell production in the South Pacific. Previously a gale had formed in the far Southeast Pacific off Chile generating 30 kt south winds on and off since late Tues (5/12) with seas to 26 ft by Thurs AM at 56S 122W. And it was expected to lift northeast to 51S 120W by Thurs evening with seas still 26 ft at 53S 120W. The best this could do is generate limited utility class swell mainly for Chile and Central America, with only background 14-15 secs swell into Southern CA. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to continue dominating the South Pacific and eliminating odds for gale development in the greater South Pacific. The gale in the far Southeast Pacific is to push even further east with a solid fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds Fri/Sat (5/16) with 38-40 ft seas just off Southern Chile by Sunday (5/17), but way outside the California swell window offering only energy for Peru and Chile with some maybe pushing up into Central America a week beyond.
On Wednesday (5/6) a push of wind energy originating under Australia with 35 kt south winds fed by an upper trough in that area. Seas built to 25 ft at 47S 158E late. That fetch pushed up to northwest New Zealand on Thursday (5/7) with 30-35 kt south winds there and more 23 ft seas aimed straight at Fiji pushing up to 37S 162E late and to 33S 167E Friday AM. This should be good for 14 sec period swell. Another gale built in the South Tasman Sea on Friday again with 35-40 kt south winds pushing into the center of the Tasman Sea with a secondary south fetch arriving on Saturday AM (5/9) to 45 kts resulting in seas building to 26 ft at 43S 165E, pushing 30 ft Saturday evening at 40S 167E aimed due north at Fiji. Winds were holding Sunday AM at 30 kts from the south with 26 ft seas modeled at 34S 163E dropping from 25 ft in the evening at 32S 165E aimed due north. Winds were fading Monday (5/11) from 30 kts off Northwestern New Zealand with seas at 23 ft at 38S 164E in the morning and gone in the evening. This continues to indicate a nice run of swell for Fiji, with some limited background southern hemi swell potential for Hawaii. Small southern hemi background swell expected to arrive in Hawaii on Thursday (5/14) with swell 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (waist high with chest high sets at top breaks) from 210 degrees. Period slowly dropping to 13 secs by Saturday (5/16) . A second pulse is possible arriving on Sunday (5/10) with swell 1.6 ft @ 15 secs fading to 13 secs on Monday.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours reinforcing high pressure is to build on the dateline at 1032 mbs on Monday (5/18) pushing east likely continuing to fuel the standard summertime pressure gradient along the coast and generating north wind at 20-25 kts and short period north windswell, best Wed/Thurs (5/21). Trades to remain light over the Islands offering no local east windswell potential.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (5/14) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was well past the peak of the Active Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index heading up. The Daily SOI index was up to 8.14, with 18 previous days in a row of near negative readings (after 26 days of positive values). The 30 day average was down to -2.39 and the 90 day average was down to 2.52 (the lowest in 6+ moths but still not negative). The SOI indicies remained completely neutral at the moment. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that the Active Phase was fading away with weak and fading westerly anomalies limited to the Eastern equatorial Pacific reaching over Central America and heading for the Atlantic. Lingering effects over the Eastern Pacific are scheduled through 5/21. A new version of the Inactive Phase that was queued up in the Indian Ocean has totally dissipated, and is not to not even make it into the Pacific (a good thing). A completely neutral pattern is expected through June 2. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are effectively gone over the ocean, and fading fast in the atmosphere. Cooler than normal surface water off of Central America are gone with slightly warmer than normal waters temps reported over the entire width of the equatorial Pacific. Below the surface on the equator, cool water that had locked down the region are gone, with a steady flow of normal subsurface water tracking from the West Pacific over the dateline and then breaking the surface near Central America with warmer water starting to pool up there. So now we are waiting to see if this current episode of the Active Phase will pump more warm waters of the West Pacific eastward, kicking us into a building warm regime in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. There continues to be evidence of a Westerly Wind Burst occurring on the dateline 5/3-5/12, but we'll have to wait to see if that results in a transport of warm subsurface waters pushing east. And the models are depicting a moment of consolidated jetstream pattern occurring over the North Pacific, a early sign of recovery. Months of high pressure off California and stiff north winds there turning trades over Hawaii had resulted in a huge cool tongue of water extending from Central CA the whole way over Hawaii to the dateline which generated massive upwelling. Now even that is quickly moderating, if not entirely gone. We had expected 1-2 more months of high pressure before a possible neutral pattern takes hold (i.e. no split in the jetstream over the North Pacific - warmer waters off California). But that might be healing even earlier than expected. All this is good news for the 2009 Fall season in the North Pacific.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest that some more fetch is to try and building in the Tasman Sea Sat/Sun (5/17) with seas to 30 ft, perhaps offering some decent swell for Fiji and background swell for Hawaii longterm. But otherwise a total lockdown of the South Pacific is to remain the name of the game.
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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Rebuild Jeff Clark: Jeff Clark the first pioneer of Mavericks, recently underwent hip resurfacing surgery due to severe pain from deterioration of his hip. Needless to say the procedure is very expensive and his insurance only covers tiny portion of the bill. If you're interested in learning about the procedure or would like to donate to help Jeff out, please take a look here: http://www.rebuildjeffclark.blogspot.com/
Half Moon Bay Surf Club, "A Luau for the Waveriders", May 16th, Seacrest School Half Moon Bay
The Half Moon Bay Surf Club is hosting its annual fundraiser on May 16 at 6:00. The club consists of students from 6th Grade - High School who compete in the Interscholastic Surfing Federation against schools along the central coast. This is the primary fundraiser for 2009 and your smile would add to the rich gathering of friends. The location is Seacrest School, 901 Arnold Way, HMB. Tickets are $40 for adults ($50 after May 9th) and Kids 2-12 are $25. Music entertainment is by Blame It On The Dog. There will be lots of prizes, a silent auction and a raffle. Several surprise guest appearances and a few bonus prizes may find their way in through the doors. Please contact Tracy at 650-712-1242 for tickets.
North California Surf Report Works Again: After an extended downtime we finally got the North California Surf Report working again. Thanks for your patience. See it here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/report/ncal.html
Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I4rZYEZMWQ (Fixed link)
Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process. Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone. Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.
New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here: http://www.surfpulse.com/2009/01/visceral-surf-forecasting-with-mark-sponsler/
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The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here: http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table