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 (5/20) North and Central California had clean northwest windswell at chest high early, before the north winds moved in and ripped it apart. Southern California was getting the usual minimal northwest windswell at thigh high up north pushing waist high or so down south with not horrible onshore winds (south). Hawaii's North Shore was near flat and clean. The East Shore was getting thigh high east windswell and chopped. The South Shore was getting some southern hemi swell with waves chest to near head high at top spots with trades again a little bit sideshore but overall pretty clean.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for northwest windswell continuing at 1-2 ft overhead Friday with new southern hemi swell pushing shoulder high late. Saturday local windswell expected at 1-2 ft overhead fading from head high Sunday while new southern hemi Swell #5S builds to 1 ft overhead Saturday and 1-2 ft overhead Sunday, then fading from head high Monday and shoulder high Tuesday. Southern California is to see local northwest windswell at waist high plus Friday holding Saturday then heading down. But of more interest is southern hemi Swell #5S pushing 4.5 ft late Friday then 1-2 ft overhead later Saturday and 2 ft overhead Sunday. Swell heading down from 1 ft overhead Monday and shoulder high early Tuesday The North Shore of Oahu is to see no rideable swell for the next week. The East Shore to see east tradewind generated windswell at chest high on Friday up to shoulder high Saturday and Sunday pushing head high to 1 ft overhead on Monday and Tuesday. The South Shore to see south angled swell at waist high holding Friday on into the weekend then fading by early next week.
The models suggest high pressure and a pressure gradient are to set up off California producing local north winds and local windswell into early next week then dropping out. Down south a solid system tracked through the deep southeast Pacific on Fri-Sun (5/16) with seas pushing 44 ft aimed pretty well to the north. Larger south angled swell for mainly the US West Coast over the weekend into early next week (5/24). After that another solid gale is forecast forming under New Zealand on Monday with seas up to 40 ft 24 hours later lifting a bit to the northeast. Possible swell to result.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (5/20) the North Pacific had a steep ridge over the Kuril Islands pushing up into Kamchatka and mainland Russia, then diving south into a trough over the dateline but only 120 kts winds feeding into it, then lifting into a more modest ridge on the Western Gulf dipping into a decent trough off the Pacific Northwest with 140 kts winds feeding into it. Limited support for gale development just off the Pacific Northwest. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is expected to hold but with the the West Pacific losing steam fast while the East Pacific trough pushes into Northern CA late Saturday (5/22) and neither offering support for gale development. The ridge in between the two is to push west some and loose energy too. Beyond 72 hours the whole thing is to re-energize with a trough building on the dateline and another pushing into Northern CA but both pretty pinched off and not providing a real support for gale development at the oceans surface.
At the surface on Tuesday (5/18) high pressure at 1028 mbs was pushing into Central CA and generating up to 25 kt northwest winds along and just off the coast focused over the Pt Conception area. This was starting to generate short period northwest windswell along with slightly longer period windswell generated previously in the Gulf of Alaska. This high was also generating trades at 20 kts pushing into the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast with high pressure and brisk northwest winds continuing along the California coast enhanced by weak pulse of low pressure dropping inland down the Pacific Northwest and into interior CA enhancing the pressure gradient focused over Pt Conception. The high is to also continue trades at 20+ kts pushing east into Hawaii generating east windswell there as well. A solid gale is forecast forming in the Gulf of Alaska late Sat (5/22) but tracking northeast up into Northern Canada on Monday. Little if any fetch is to be aimed southeast towards US interests though it would not be surprising if the Pacific Northwest might see a little swell if all goes as forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/20) high pressure was building strong into the area with north wind on the increase and chop and windswell on the way up. This same north wind pattern is forecast holding through the weekend even impacting Southern CA in the evenings with up to 30 kt north winds focused off Pt Conception and 25 kt winds to Cape Mendocino. The gradient to start fading Monday and be gone by Tuesday (5/25) as another low builds just off the North CA coast. No change forecast through the workweek.
On Thursday (5/20) the models indicated a ridge in the upper atmosphere was pushing well to the south over the entire South Pacific offering no odds to support gale development. This general pattern to hold for the next 72 hours keeping the storm door closed.
New Zealand Gale
A gale formed under New Zealand on Mon (5/10) with a small area of 40 kt west-southwest winds producing 30 ft seas. By Tuesday AM the gale was taking a more northeasterly track but with only 35 kt winds at 50S 160W resulting in 30 ft seas at 49S 160W. In the evening 35-40 kt south winds continued at 43S 157W and pushing even more to the northeast with up to 32 ft seas at 45S 156W on the 203 degree track to California and in the middle of the Tahitian swell shadow relative to CA. The gale was fading and tracking even better to the north on Wed AM (5/12) with a small area of 35 kt winds and barely 30 ft seas at 42S 151W pushing up the same heading relative to CA and shadowed. This system faded after that.
Given the weak wind speeds, the 30 ft sea estimate put forth by the models seems like a best case scenario. Still some degree of limited support for small scale swell is possible in CA. But Hawaii looks to be better positioned, with energy pushing unshadowed up the 180-185 degree tracks. And Tahiti will do even better, especially considering the close proximity of this system (1400 nmiles out).
North California: Residuals at 2 ft @ 14-15 secs on Friday (5/21). Swell Direction: 205 degrees
Swell #5S (California)
On Thursday AM (5/13) the models indicated another broad and decent strength gale was forming in the deep Central Pacific with 45 kt southwest winds at 58S 162W pushing pretty quickly east. By evening a large fetch of 40-45 kt south-southwest winds was positioned at 53S 150W generating 35 ft seas at 55S 152W. The ASCAT satellite provided a less rosy picture with a small core of 40-45 kt winds embedded in a large area of 35 kt southwest winds. The models looked to be on the high side.
On Friday AM a solid area of 40-45 kt south winds continued at 50S 147W aimed right up the 196 degree path to Southern CA with sideband swell up the 178 degree path to Hawaii. The ASCAT satellite confirmed 45-50 kt south-southwest winds well south at 60S 155W, and brand new fetch south of the main fetch, a bit stronger than the models indicated. 36 ft seas were modeled at 50S 147W. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the southwest quadrant of this system at 18Z and reported average seas at 34.2 ft with a peak to 38.4 ft while the model suggested 31 ft. The model was undercalling it both in terms of winds and seas. In the evening stronger 45-50 kt south-southwest winds were modeled building over a larger area again aimed well to the north at 59S 140W over the same area as before producing a large area of 39 ft seas at 55S 145W.
That fetch held and lifted a bit north Sat AM (5/15) with 45 kt south winds at 57S 135W pushing up the 188 degree path to CA with 44 ft seas at 55S 136W. No ASCAT data was available. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the far eastern edge of the fetch and reported a 15 reading sea average of 26.4 ft with one peak reading to 36.1 ft while the model suggested 28 ft for that area. The model was about 2 ft on the high side. Fetch held solid in the evening at 52S 130W with 43 ft seas at 52S 132W. No ASCAT data was available for this day.
40-45 kt southwest winds were fading on Sunday AM (5/16) with 40 ft seas fading at 46S 127W. The ASCAT satellite suggested only 35 kt winds. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the southwestern edge of the fetch and confirmed average seas at 29.6 ft with a peak to 33.1 ft while the model suggested seas of 34 ft in the same area. The model was way over calling it, at least out on the periphery where the satellite passed over. Residual 37 ft seas were modeled Sunday evening at 43S 119W and moving out of the CA swell window, though much fetch is still forecast pushing towards Chile.
On Monday (5/17) 36 ft seas were modeled at 42S 108W well outside the CA swell window. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the far western edge of the fetch and reported seas at 25.1 ft with a peak reading of 32.2 ft while the model suggested seas of 29 ft in the same area. The model again was over hyping the seas.
At this point it looks like a decent gale occurred in the Southeast Pacific. Notice we said 'gale' and not 'storm' since winds for the most part did not reach storm status (50 kts) other than one 12 hr window on Fri AM (when both the ASCAT satellite reported 50 kt wind and the Jason-1 satellite reported solid seas). But in general the GFS wind model (which drives the Wavewatch wave model) seems to have over represented wind speeds, which in turn resulted in higher sea heights in the wave models. That said, both the ASCAT and Jason-1 data was spotty at best with no good solid passes over the core of the storm. So maybe there was more going on in the core of the storm than was imaged, but we kinda suspect that is more a case of wishful thinking. Regardless, we suspect some degree of decent significant class swell should push up into California from this gale from a rather southerly angle. But most size is expected east of there, down into Central America.
Southern CA: Expect the first pulse of swell arrival starting Friday (5/21) with period 22 secs and size steadily on the increase, pushing 2.3 ft @ 20 secs at sunset (4.5 ft faces with top spots to near 6 ft). The main pulse of the swell is expected to arrive on Saturday (5/22) between noon and 4 PM with period still 20 secs with pure swell 3.3 ft @ 20 secs (6.5 ft faces with top spots to 8 ft) and mixing with 17 sec energy from the previous pulse. The core of the second pulse is expected in on Sunday (5/23) as period drops towards 17 secs from noon to 5 PM with pure swell peaking at 3.7-4.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.0-7.7 ft faces with top spots having sets to 9.5 ft). Swell heading down on Monday with swell 4 ft @ 15-16 secs (6.0-6.5 ft) and dropping to 3 ft @ 14 secs on Tuesday (4.0-4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 198 degrees first pulse, 187-190 degrees on the second larger pulse
Northern CA: Expect the first pulse of swell arrival starting Friday (5/21) near 2 PM with period 20 secs and size on the increase, pushing 2.0 ft @ 20 secs at sunset (4.0 ft faces with top spots to near 5 ft). More preliminary swell to hit Saturday AM (5/22) at 2.3-2.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces with top spots to 5.5 ft). The main pulse of the swell is expected to arrive Saturday from 5-10 PM with period still 20 secs with pure swell 3.3 ft @ 20 secs (6.5 ft faces with top spots to 8 ft) and mixing with 17 sec energy from the previous pulse. The main swell is to still be building through the day Sunday (5/23) with period at 18 secs finally peaking as period drops to 17 secs from 5-11 PM with pure swell peaking at 3.7-4.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.0-7.7 ft faces with top spots having sets to 9.5 ft). Swell heading down on Monday with swell 3.8 ft @ 16 secs (6.0-6.5 ft with top spots to 7.5 ft), then dropping to 3 ft @ 14-15 secs on Tuesday (4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 195 degrees first pulse, 184-187 degrees on the second larger pulse
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 high pressure is to start fading late on
Monday (5/24) actually retrograding west with winds and windswell dropping in California, then trades fading over Hawaii by Thursday (5/27) with winds and windswell dying there too. No other swell producing fetch is forecast.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Monday (5/17) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was hanging around neutral territory. The daily SOI was at 16.87 (up the past 2 days). The 30 day average was up to 8.38 with the 90 day average up to 2.58. A massive upward trend started in early March, peaked at the end of April, and is now loosing ground. This looks like the transition from El Nino to a neutral state and helps to explain the sudden shutdown of the storm machine in March and April. we were actually expecting El Nino to hold tough into May.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models suggest light easterly anomalies filling the entire equatorial Pacific basin, indicating the Inactive Phase is still in control. It is scheduled to push hard east and had exited over Central America 5/27. This signals the end of El Nino and eliminates any support for gale development. The Active Phase continues brewing behind it filling the Indian Ocean as of 5/17. It is to reach the dateline on 5/22, then slowly fad2 while pushing east towards Central America, but still influencing a large area of the North Pacific through 6/4. Maybe some support for gale development from this Active Phase of the MJO when it happens. But it will be pretty late in the season to see much if any impact.
At this point we believe that El Nino will not hang on for another year, and that rather we'll fall back into some form of a light La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control). Of other interest will be whether the Iceland Volcano will spew enough high level fine particle dust and aerosols into the atmosphere to produce a reflective effect, dropping surface temperature and pushing us into a multi-year La Nina. This is a very real concern.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (5/13) indicated no dramatic change from previous weeks, with warmer than normal waters consolidated on the equator with a new pocket of warmer water off Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, fading some south of Hawaii (almost down to normal levels) and then regrouping the in the West Pacific. A massive buildup of warmer than normal waters is occurring in the Atlantic, of concern to hurricane forecasters there. We'll see if upper level winds support development of hurricane activity though. Suspect residual upper level shear from El Nino will have an impact well into the summer there.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building over the dateline and pushing east. Not good..
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to almost the Philippines, but only in the normal range. Perhaps a slight push to the west was occurring, but nothing extraordinary. This looks like the normal Springtime transition typical for this time of the year.
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly loosing it's grip on the global atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact is to continue into the Summer of 2010 enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific some. A slow transition to a normal state is expected through Nov 2010.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models indicate an impressive storm is to form south of New Zealand early Monday (5/24) with 50 kt southwest winds aimed mostly east, but a bit to the northeast too. It's to track due east into the evening with 45+ kt winds holding and aimed a bit more to the northeast with seas building to 40 ft at 58S 170W. Fetch is to be rapidly fading Tuesday AM with 40 kt southwest winds at 55S 155W and seas 38 ft at 55S 160W. Fetch to be down to 35 kts in the evening with seas from previous fetch 35 ft at 52S 150W and dropping out. Easterly fetch in the 35-40 kts range is to continue over an elongated area there, producing pockets of 30 ft seas into late Thursday, but all aimed mostly due east. Some swell potential for the US West coast with sideband energy maybe for Hawaii, though Central America down into South America to do best if all goes as 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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The Mavericks: Everest of the Seas Exhibition has unveiled its latest gallery featuring some of the most heart-stopping images from the epic El Niño-fueled Big Wave Season. This year's lineup includes not only a culmination of images from Award-winning photographers Doug Acton, Frank Quirarte, Seth Migdail, Ed Grant and Art Gimbel but a multimedia slide show and a video recap of the 2010 Mavericks Surf Contest, one of the greatest days in surfing history.
Thanks to an El Nino weather pattern, this has been one of the most dramatic big-wave surf seasons on record, said Doug Acton, Mavericks Veteran Lensmen.
Now Eric Nelson and Curt Myers of Powerlines Productions have come on board to bring the gallery images to life by presenting both water and cliff-angle video of the Mavericks contest, won by South Africa's Chris Bertish in the biggest waves ever ridden in a paddle-surf contest.
The Mavericks crew will transform the Longboard Vineyards tasting room into a virtual caldron of 50-foot drops, glory rides and heinous wipeouts. As you stand under the colorful Tibetan Prayer flags, tasting some of Longboard Vineyards' libations, you'll be hard-pressed not to become immersed in the real-life drama, energy and stoke that surrounds the surfers and photographers every time they head out to the lineup.
Longtime big-wave surfer Mark (Doc) Renneker put it best when he said, “Every time you leave the shore, you head out into the wildnerness.”
“We're coming off one of the most phenomenal big-wave seasons to date," said Quirarte, the longtime Mavericks lifeguard and master lensman. “This season we witnessed so many great rides by so many different surfers from so many different countries. Mavericks is still the No. 1 all-around spot in the world for big-wave surfing.”
Oded Shakked, a longtime surfer who founded Longboard Vineyards, will be on hand at the reception to unveil the latest release in his Mavericks Signature Series, the Ken “Skindog” Collins Syrah.
Veteran waterman Ken “Skindog” Collins (Santa Cruz, CA) is hands down one of the most recognized and respected big wave surfers today. With his recent trip to the podium at the 2010 Mavericks Surf Contest or his epic twenty-foot Puerto Escondido barrel that earned him top honors at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards. Collins has traveled the world mentoring up and coming crop of big wave chargers -- and has himself pioneered and ridden the biggest waves on the planet.
“I can't think of a better person to honor with our next Mavericks label than Kenny Collins,” said Shakked. “A true icon of the sport.”__
Oded Shakked, along with the featured photographers, videographers, surfboard shapers and wine makers will be on hand at the Longboard Vineyards Tasting room in beautiful Healdsburg California for the Saturday night reception on May 22nd The reception will begin at 5pm and run until roughly 9pm.
“Everest of the Seas” was launched in the summer of 2009, with the idea of bringing together the most memorable photos from Mavericks' best sessions. It drew large crowds and an enthusiastic response in its debut at the Coastal Arts League Gallery in Half Moon Bay, then moved on to successful runs at San Francisco's world-class SFMOMA Museum and Gallery, The Fillmore, The Half Moon Bay Big Wave Surfing Festival and Longboard Vineyards.
Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we implemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sample, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models. http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nwcoast_precip
Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is explicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good examples:
West Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nepac_precip
East Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=watla_precip
Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
Read about Eric Nelson and Curt Myers, the makers of Ride-On and other Big Wave Surf Movies here: http://coastviewsmag.com/powerlines-productions-filming-the-art-of-big-wave-surfing
Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here: http://www.mavz.com/
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
Interview With Stormsurf: The crew at SurfScience.com worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing. This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others. See the full thing here: Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf
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/
Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table